Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Recipe: Kale and Myzithra Crostini (Χόρτα και Μυζήθρα Κροστίνι)

Before I left Alaska to fly south, we'd had days of snow followed by a windstorm. After wind packed down the snow, it warmed up and started raining. Rain on top of hard-packed snow turns into glare ice.

When the plane landed in Seattle, it was 50°F and the sun was shining. Crocuses and other early bloomers stood proud against the dark soil. A first blush of pink cherry blossoms lit up leafless branches. Dog walkers were everywhere; half weren’t wearing coats. Spring is racing to arrive in the Pacific Northwest.

At Whole Foods, the entryway was brimming with a colorful explosion of locally grown tulips and daffodils. A women and her daughter debated which was better: yellow tulips with red stripes or red tulips with yellow stripes.

Whole Foods’ produce section is always amusing; mountains of glowing vegetables spread out in every direction. Luckily, I’m staying with my sister, who has a fully equipped kitchen.


We were drawn to the crinkled, darkly green leaves of Lacinato kale and decided to turn it into crostini for that night’s dinner. Giant, first-of-the year, frost-kissed artichokes were also too good to pass up. We opted to pair the artichokes with garlicky aioli and grilled pork and fennel sausages.

As we picked out kale, we decided to use it for a crostini topping seasoned with garlic, hot peppers, and dried currants. Then we passed the cheese counter. My sister snagged a chunk of myzithra, a semi-dried Greek sheep cheese that would add the crowning touch to kale crostini.

Back at home, I destemmed kale, while my sister minced garlic. I remembered how fun it is to cook with her and how much I enjoy my rare opportunities to do so. She has finely tuned taste buds and excellent kitchen skills, the two ingredients most necessary for good cooks.

A healthy dose of garlic in the crostini topping bound the robust kale, spicy peppers, and salty cheese together. The finished kale mix was something I’d enjoy for dinner, on its own, any day of the week.

Kale and Myzithra Crostini made a savory and unusual vegetarian appetizer. They were delicious hot, and retained their full flavor when served two hours later at room temperature.

Kale and Myzithra Crostini (Χόρτα και Μυζήθρα Κροστίνι)
Makes 16 crostini

1 bunch of kale or other greens, cleaned and stemmed (1 1/2 cups blanched and chopped)
4 tsp. minced fresh garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp.
sambal oelek or sriracha (fresh chili paste)
3 Tbsp. dried currants
1/2 cup sliced and crumbled myzithra or ricotta salata cheese
16 slices of baguette, 1/2” thick

Blanch the kale in boiling salted water for 3 minutes, or until it is tender (older greens may take longer). Drain and squeeze out excess water. Roughly chop the kale.

Over medium heat, sauté the garlic, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in olive oil. Cook for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the chili paste and kale, and stir to coat the kale with oil. Stir in the currants and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, adding a little water if the greens seem too dry. Turn off the heat and stir in the myzithra. Taste and add salt or freshly ground black pepper, if needed.

Lightly toast the slices of baguette, and top each one with a large spoonful of kale mix. Serve hot or at room temperature.

14 comments:

Peter G said...

I love crostini Laurie and what a lovely Greek twist you've applied to them. Just beautiful.

Peter M said...

Laurie, again we're on the same wavelength...I too just used some Sambal Oelek!

Kale is a fine green and it's stock is rising, thanks to recipes like these.

Elly said...

Mmm. I am always sounding like a broken record on your blog, but it looks so great! I love kale and my love for myzithra cannot be put into words :) I have never even thought to look for myzithra at WF but I will give it a try since it's right down the street. I get it in Greektown but I don't go there often enough since it's a hike for me.

Bijoux said...

Looks and sounds very good. What a great way to have kale...Usually, I prepare kale the way Greeks eat their 'horta'...boiled with olive oil and lemon juice...a tad boring...I know :)

Laurie Constantino said...

Thank you, Peter G - I was just wishing there would've been leftovers...

Peter M - sambal oelek is really a wonderful ingredient - it is a convenient way to add a fresh chili flavor to pretty much anything.

Elly, I am so glad you like it! Kale and myzithra really go well together. Lucky you to have access to both WF and Greektown - that would make me very heppy.

Bijoux, no doubt about it, simply boiled kale (and pretty much any other green) dressed with olive oil and lemon juice is wonderful and not at all boring. We have it often...especially in the spring when the wild greens are in their prime.

Suganya said...

I love Whole Foods for the very same reason. BTW, does this kale taste the same as the regular one?

Laurie Constantino said...

Hi Suganya, all kales definitely taste similar and can be used interchangeably, but to my taste buds, this type of kale has a slightly milder and well-rounded flavor than some of the other kales. If I have a choice, this is the type I inevitably buy.

Cakelaw said...

Hi Laurie, I can't recall ever having seen kale, but it is very striking in colour. BTW, love your red tulip.

Astra Libris said...

I just discovered your terrific blog, and I'm so glad I did! Your recipes are divine - I'm enjoying reading your pages of deliciousness and great stories...

Your whole foods journey sounds like such a wonderful, vivid experience - and the resulting crostini looks scrumptious!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Looks delicious. Strangely enough, I don't think I've ever had kale before, but this certainly looks like a tasty and straightforward way to try it! You've definitely been turning me on to Greek flavors a lot more lately...

Kevin said...

Those look good. The use of the chili sauce and currents sounds really interesting.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I'm cooking and eating a lot of kale at the moment - but would never have thought of using it like this. What a great idea - and I love the combination of things in the crostini.

Sammakko said...

I just found your blog, it's amazing!
I have grown kale in my veggie garden, but didn't really know how to use it. This recipe sounds so good, I will definitely try it next season!

Greetings from Finland,
Sammakko

Riana Lagarde said...

I was just with my sister as well. fun times. i'm going to plant Kale in my winter garden next year, i'll be back to make this for sure!!