the one thing i’d definitely invest more time should i, uhm, ever have “more time” on hand (like, leisure time, time spent merely doing nothing that needs to be done), it would be learning to make cocktails. not sushi (i believe sushi making is not for home cooks, thank you). not macarons cupcakes (because: dito! although i’m aware there are a couple of real pros in this field… hey guys!). not pasta. no, cocktails. because, well, obviously it’s a matter of priorities. ahem.
so this cool looking book here that i want to snuggle up with in bed at night, called “the drunken botanist” is one great new addition to my library. it gives you a pretty thorough introduction into all things alcohol and drinks making history. oh, yes, forgot the killer argument: the guy in your life will probably like it, too.
inspired by this book, i created a meal. obviously it’s green too. ha! now, greens may not everybody’s (child’s) darling. i, on the opposite, love a good green. and i embrace bitterness. not literally, ha! but taste wise i embrace earthy tastes. when i’m entertaining, though, i usually steer clear from all the potentially bitter components, such as rucola, radicchio or collards. apart from that, collards and kale types are rather difficult to get around here, anyway. meaning: we don’t have the all-year-long kale craze going on. i actually kind of pity that.
sometimes, when i want to make an extra effort (for myself, because guests, as mentioned, are not the subject here), though, i’ll make the extra ‘detour’ to one of the delicatessen shops in the city. not really on my way home. but hey, a good bunch of kale power should never be pushed from a plate. i like mine especially with a squeeze of lemon. it offsets the bitterness and makes it more round. i know some massage their kale to make it more smooth… but, uhm… no. just, no. a good ol’ lemon will have to do to make it tender.
ps: cavolo nero is available in italy, mainly. around the us it’s common under “black kale” or “tuscan kale”. in switzerland we just stick to the cavolo nero term.
fun fact: pardon my french, but isn’t it cute how an italian speaking friend of mine sometimes sais “cavoli” (“collards”) whenever she wants to express her dissatisfaction with something? unfair (for the collards) – but nonetheless such a cute swear word.
cavolo nero with lemon & grapes
1 bunch cavolo nero or any other leafy green, e.g. kale or collard or even broccoli rabe
1 cup pecorino, grated
1 handful grapes, halved and deseeded
3 tbsp. good extra virgin olive oil
1 organic lemon, zest and juice
1 tbsp. preserved lemon, finely chopped (if you do not have preserved lemon, omit)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 knife’s point harissa
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. sumac (if available)
salt and pepper to taste
wash and clean the cavolo nero. cut it into two-finger-width slices, horizontally (you can stack a couple of leaves on top of each other for cutting). heat a large pot of water. blanch the sliced cavolo nero in it for about 3 to 4 minutes. drain and immediately cool in ice cold water, to stop the cooking process. drain again and pat dry, thoroughly.
to make the doubly lemony dressing, combine the lemon juice, zest and preserved lemon. whisk in the olive oil, garlic, harissa, honey and sumac. season lightly with salt (because the pecorino adds saltiness, as well, later) and pepper. half the grapes, grate the cheese.
in a large bowl, combine the cavolo, lemon dressing and grated pecorino cheese. combine well, arrange on plates and scatter with halved grapes.