Peter Cundall drinks a glass of it, vitamized, every morning, crediting it for his longevity and vitality. It was one of the three main ingredients on the best pizza I have ever eaten*. Yet despite having a whole bed dedicated to it, this winter it has been the least used vegetable in the garden. In the days before I got the hang of gardening in this cold winter climate kale and Swiss chard were the mainstays of our mid year meals. For their fortitude and reliability I was grateful but these days there’s just not the spark between us that there used to be. However, in the interests of household harmony (“please, not more f-e-n-n-e-e-e-l-l-l!”) it elbowed its way back onto the menu today. And we got a chance to remind ourselves just how really, really delicious it is, with that delicate sweet nuttiness. You never know, we may even eat it again.
IngredientsA bunch of the freshest, crinkliest and therefore most tender Tuscan kale leaves (cavalo nero) you can get your hands on, central rib removed and leaves roughly chopped
A large handful of walnuts in their shell, cracked, toasted, and crushed or chopped into small pieces (try to avoid pre shelled walnuts – the oils go rancid extremely quickly once shelled, and this frittata will be a shadow of its true self without the, er…nutty sweetnesss… of the fresh walnuts)
A sprig of rosemary, softest leaves removed from stem and very finely chopped
Small bunch of red spring onions or one small red onion, finely chopped
A small clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
Eggs, as many as you feel like (I used eight for three people with big appetites)
A handful of grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 210 degrees C.
Beat eggs with a few tablespoons of cream (adjust according to the number of eggs used) lightly enough that the yolks and the whites are not completely combined. Set aside.
Heat a modest glug of olive oil and three large knobs of butter in a large well seasoned or non stick oven proof frying pan over low heat and add the onions with a pinch of sea salt. Cook slowly until softened, then turn the heat as low as you can and cook until the onions are very soft, translucent and sweet.
Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes.
Increase temperature to moderate and add the chopped kale, stirring frequently until it is dark green and wilted.
Add the crushed, toasted walnut pieces and about a tablespoon of the rosemary and cook for another few minutes, stirring frequently.
Lower the temperature again, and arrange the contents of the pan in an even layer (as you want them in the frittata) and then slowly pour in the eggs and cream so that you don’t displace your kale mixture.
Generously sprinkle the grated Parmesan over the surface of the egg as well as a large pinch of sea salt or to taste.
Let sit over low heat until the base of the frittata is beginning to set but the top is still runny.
Transfer to top shelf of the oven and cook for a few minutes until the top is just set and perhaps slightly browned in a couple of spots.
Cut into wedges and serve with a good squeeze of lemon and pepper.
Warning! Remove any uneaten frittata from the pan straightaway so that it doesn’t continue to cook – otherwise it will be a wettex by the time you want seconds.
Oven roasted chips and/or a green salad are lovely on the side.
*Tuscan kale, potato and gruyere cheese ten years ago at Silo in Canberra. I still think about it.
So what vegetable gets the cold shoulder in your garden or at the shops? What did this poor unsuspecting vegetable do to fall out of favour? Is there anything it can do to redeem itself or has the magic gone forever?