by SAMMI JOHNSON

Lacinato Kale goes by many names – Italians call it Cavolo Nero or Black Kale. Americans tag it Lacinato and children often refer it as Dinosaur Kale, for its leaf texture resembling a dinosaur. Regardless of its name, Lacinato Kale is one of Three Forks Grille’s head chef Chris DiMaio’s favorite local veggie to prepare. You can cook the entire plant and find it locally almost year round. It’s easy to prepare, nutritious, and has tender leaves and a mellow, palatable taste.

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Parmesan Broth

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion – diced
1 carrot – diced
3 ribs of celery
1 bunch of kale
2 cans of 15 oz. white beans
6 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
¼ cup minced garlic
1 rind of good parmesan
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of dried marjoram or oregano
¼ cup parsley
2 tablespoons fresh sage
1 can of chopped tomatoes
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Add oil to heavy bottom soup pot, sauté onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add all dry ingredients and fresh herbs. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Add parmesan rind. Simmer for additional 10 minutes. (If you don’t have a rind, add fresh parmesan at the end of cooking.)
  4. Add beans, including liquid.
  5. Add chopped kale and cook for additional 10 minutes.
  6. Remove parmesan rind and serve.

Potato Gnocchi with Garlic, Kale and Gorgonzola Cream

Potato Gnocchi with Garlic, Kale and Gorgonzola CreamThis versatile sauce can be used with chicken, shrimp or on boiled potatoes. At Three Forks Grille, this sauce is topped on their homemade gnocchi with toasted almonds.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients for sauce:

½ cup sliced yellow onion or shallots
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoons parsley and sage
4 cups chopped kale
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups heavy cream
½ cup gorgonzola cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat butter and oil in a sauté pan.
  2. Add onion and sauté until soft.
  3. Add garlic and herbs, sauté 30 seconds.
  4. Add kale and sauté 1 minute.
  5. Add wine and reduce until only 2 tbsps. remain.
  6. Add heavy cream.
  7. At this point add toasted gnocchi or chicken, shrimp or potatoes.
  8. Reduce sauce until desired thickness.
  9. Add gorgonzola and toss until melted.

Crostini with Kale and Walnut Pesto

Serves 8

Ingredients for pesto:

1 bunch of kale (trim stems)
½ cup of toasted walnuts
¹/³ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 juiced and zested ½ of a large lemon
½ cup of parmesan
¼ cup parsley
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Instructions:

  1. Chop and blanch kale in salted pot of boiling water for 45 seconds.
  2. Cool in an ice bath and drain; squeeze dry.
  3. Blend everything, except olive oil, in a food processor until smooth.
  4. Slowly add olive oil to food processor and blend for 30 seconds.
  5. Adjust salt, pepper and lemon to taste.
  6. Spread on crostini and top with ricotta.