It took such a long time for me to jump onto the kale bandwagon and lately I've been loving it! I purchased a bunch of organic kale from the Vic Market a few years ago for what I thought was an exorbitant price for such a limp, miserable looking bunch of greens. The meal I used it in was underwhelming so I grumpily put kale in the too-hard basket for a while as it also wasn't available around my local area at the time. Kale seems to have been growing in popularity over the years and as I've recently seen it appear at my local green grocer, farmers markets and even some supermarkets, it was well and truly time to cast my former doubts aside and give it another try.
When I purchased some baby leeks and kale recently and the first asparagus of the season, a long lost recipe sprang to mind to try with these vegetables. The recipe originated from a fairly uninteresting mini cookbook I impulsively bought from a supermarket that ultimately ended up being sent to charity during a spring clean along with many other unloved cookbooks. Although it's been years since I've made this side dish, the ingredients were still clear in my mind - leek, garlic, asparagus, spinach, basil and cream. The cream was never a big selling point for me, the combination of leeks, garlic and basil is the highlight which works beautifully with the greens.
After serving this up I was amazed that my fellows actually remembered the dish and happy that we all enjoyed it just as much as the original. I've since made this with silverbeet/chard leaves in place of kale and added both these greens at the same time because silverbeet leaves don't take as long to cook as kale. As long as you are familiar with the cooking times for your chosen greens, I'm sure this could be adapted with a variety of different green vegetables. Just don't leave out the leeks, garlic or basil and don't think about substituting onion for leek either!
Asparagus and kale with leeks and basil
1 tablespoon dairy-free margarine
4 baby leeks (or use 1-2 regular leeks), thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
8-10 asparagus spears
1/2 bunch tuscan kale
10-12 basil leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut each spear in half. Remove the tough centre stalks from each piece of kale then roll the leaves up and roughly chop.
Heat the dairy-free margarine in a large frying pan over medium heat. Fry the leeks and garlic for 3 minutes or until softened, then add the kale and a splash of water. Cover and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the asparagus. Cover again and cook for a further 3 minutes or until the asparagus is tender then stir through the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.