Melanie Johnson Johnson gets the year off to a healthy start with kale.

Not only is kale fabulously healthy and versatile, but, at this bleak juncture, it’s the only eye candy in the kitchen garden. It’s almost as if Nature knows that we need a little jollying along in January. An all-family favourite is the recipe below for kale chips. Every healthy cookbook has a version, but I think the wasabi adds a perfect kick.

Italian bean-and-bacon soup with kale (serves 4)

Ingredients
Olive oil
2 rashers bacon
1 white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 stalk of celery
1 carrot
240g tinned kidney beans (drained weight)
240g tinned cannellini beans (drained weight)
400g tinned tomatoes
600ml chicken stock
2 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 chopped chilli
A handful chopped curly kale
Parmesan, to serve
8 pork sausages
Ciabatta loaf, warmed

Method
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the bacon. Once it’s crispy, add the onion and garlic and cook gently until they’re translucent, but not browned. Next, add the carrot and celery and cook for a further few minutes. Finally, add all the remaining ingredients and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill the sausages until cooked through and browned. Slice the ciabatta lengthways and brush with olive oil, then sprinkle with crushed garlic and parsley. Place two sausages in each bowl and ladle the soup over them. Serve with slices of the ciabatta on the side.

More ways with kale

bean and bacon soupSingapore noodles with kale
Lay thin egg noodles in a colander and pour boiling water over them. Heat a splash of neutral-tasting oil in a wok and fry a chopped red onion, a crushed clove of garlic, some grated ginger, a tablespoon of curry paste and a teaspoon of curry powder in it. Next, add a handful each of chopped curly kale and beansprouts. Mix well and stir in the noodles. Serve hot with a splash of soy sauce.

Kale chips with wasabi
Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into a large bowl and tip in some chopped kale. Mix around until it’s evenly coated. Tip the pieces of kale out onto a foil-lined baking sheet and cook in a moderately hot oven for 6–8 minutes, or until crisp but not browned. Remove and sprinkle with pinches of wasabi powder. Decant into bowls and serve like crisps.

 

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