In the South for good luck, tradition, and fun on New Years you're supposed to cook greens and black eyed peas. This year here in Tucson I made red beans and rice and KALE. Actual KALE. Yes really. When I was shopping at Walmart it beckoned me over to the fresh produce aisle. "Psst pssst look at me here! Look how healthy and cute I am with my curly edges. Look how luscious and dark green I am even under this horrible lighting and lame, artificial thunderstorms. Please please take me home with you. I want to feed you. Give me a home, just for a night, with YOU. Please!" It didn't actually say that and no I wasn't actually thinking that either but just now it seemed funny if it had said that; like in a zen-plants-have-feelings-too-kind-of-way. If that were the case I'd only surround myself with plants that were smart AND flattering. I digress. Nonsense!
What I really thought was 'I am somewhat superstitious and I could use some cash-mo-nay this year so why not...but ugh...cooking kale...blecgh.' The only greens I knew growing up were overcooked, brown, bitter and tough. Justification was that's the only way to make them tender and edible. They made the entire kitchen smell in a way that caused me to frown instantly. Only the seniors with wrinkle-y lips, ridged nails and a 2-day-old blowout would eat them dripping with vinegar. No desire to replicate that esp. since I didn't have any pork pieces or bacon and no I didn't want to buy any for this one dish. And I didn't want to babysit anything but my own progeny on that holiday so that excluded slaving over a hot stove on New Years Day.
So why did I buy Kale Boy? Because I did have some salami at home and I did buy some garlic! So then I also remembered my dad, from Eastern Carolina, saying that greens are best after the first frost. I hypothesized that the freeze destroyed the cell walls or something important like that-since I am a scientist you know- and so I *gently* placed the head of kale IN.THE.FREEZER. HA! Card-Carrying Sensible-Southerner here yes m'am! And whaddyaknow? The next day I melted some butter, sliced the whole head of garlic and added about 3 pieces of salami to a skillet. When the garlic was fragrant I put the whole frozen head of kale in and covered it 1/2 way with water. I let that boy cook, covered, for about an hour on gentle heat and it was magic in my mouth. My soul felt warm and happy. Here are some pix.
Icy kale amidst shredded cheese
Frozen kale steaming away