Mmm... kale. What? You don't get that immediate association?
Kale has an image problem. It's dark green like spinach, it's tough like the bushes in your front yard (and might be a decorative plant if your landscaper has a penchant for frilly greens), and it takes a mess of it to make a full meal. Yet, kale in all it forms is a wonderfully tasty way to get iron and calcium, and with a little oil, a little garlic, some eggs and cheese - you can make anything outstanding.
I came to fritattas late. Like two years ago late. For some reason, when I was making fast dinners for myself and later for myself and Rebecca, the idea of putting an egg dish into the oven to finish just never occurred to me.
Well, it occurs to me now, and kale is probably the vegetable I make fritattas with the most. But what I make is an EXTREME fritatta. What? The whole extreme fad is over? Oh.
Well, it's a fritatta with a ton of kale and garlic in it - one pound before cleaning, to be exact. and I do take the time to clean it up. Those stems can be OK if you cook them forever, but by that time you've lost a lot of the subtleties of the leaf's flavor. Better to just chuck the refuse and stick with the good stuff.
There are lots of different types of kale. I used baby Red Russian kale for this dish because that's what was on at the farmers' market in Baltimore Sunday. It's relatively tender (as kale goes), but even tender kale needs a lot of heat to break down the structure. If I'd used green kale or adult Red Russian kale, I'd have boiled the leaves in heavily salted water before sauteing with oil and garlic. Adjust the recipe accordingly.
one pound kale, picked over, stems and big ribs removed
three cloves garlic, smashed, minced roughly
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
10 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup shredded cheese (mozarella, chihuahua, gruyere, you name it - I used chihuahua since we had some that needed using)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
If you're using green kale or a tougher variety, boil the kale in a big pot of salty water for five minutes to tenderize it. If you're using baby kale (I used baby Red Russian, myself), you can skip this step.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
In a large regular non-nonstick skillet, heat the oil, butter and garlic together over medium heat. The idea is to infuse the fats with garlic flavor.
After a few minutes (4-5), add kale and sautee until tender. You may need to add the kale in batches, turning with tongs to coat with oil/butter and wilting the kale until it collapses and you can fit it all into the pan. Mix in the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
Spread the cheese over the kale, and pour the eggs over the wilted kale. You may need to use a spoon or fork to ensure the eggs make their way under some of the kale.
Cook over medium heat for five minutes until the eggs start to set. Remove from burner, and place skillet in oven. Bake in oven until the eggs are completely set and the top is lightly brown - this could be anything from 5 to 12 minutes.
If you're impatient, once the eggs are set, you can brown the top by turning on the broiler and watching it closely until the top is golden brown and delicious looking.
Cut into quarters and serve with a salsa of your choosing. If you can prevent your self from finishing the fritatta, it's much better the next day. A quarter heated for 90 seconds on high in the microwave is the best lunch.