I love eating kale, but I hate cleaning it. By the time I’ve washed the leaves, stripped away the tough stems, and unfurled half a roll of paper towels to dry everything, the last thing I want to do is spend more time in the kitchen cooking the stuff. Happily, Amelia Crook of the gorgeous blog Simple Provisions has saved my Tuesday evening with a fast, hands-off recipe for crispy kale and chickpea salad. I spent more time washing the kale than I did roasting it!
After a stint in New York (where she worked at Martha Stewart), Amelia returned to her native Australia in 2012. She lives with her husband and baby in Kyneton, Victoria, in an old house with a big garden. “This is an experiment in slower living,” she says. Her blog offers fresh, inventive, seasonal recipes, and fun features like “Look in the fridge”—a series of icebox tell-all tales; she featured mine here—eek! She illustrates posts with her beautiful photos, which make me want to immediately cook everything she’s cooking (or move into her serene and cozy home—Amelia? Do you need a resident pot washer?). Today I’m delighted to share a glimpse of her house, along with tips for fast meals, and a bright, satisfyingly crunchy recipe.
On adjusting to her newly “hectic” evening routine:
“We’ve recently gone from two adults needing to be fed to two adults and a baby, which means meal times last from 5pm to 8pm, with bathing and cooking thrown in. If I’m organized, I’ll have something semi-prepared for dinner which helps things flow more smoothly. If I haven’t done any prep, it feels like I’ve never cooked dinner before and I can’t think of a single thing to cook. So far, we’ve still eaten every night though!”
On her favorite pantry staples:
“Pasta (linguine and orecchiette are my favorites), tinned beans and chickpeas, eggs, anchovies, feta, as well as fresh herbs and greens growing in the garden (kale and chard in the winter, lettuce in summer). I can usually cobble something together from this.”
On reaping the rewards of weekend cooking:
“Cooking a batch of vegetables on the weekend and storing them gives you an excellent starting point for dinners during the week. Here’s how I do it.”
On her go-to “can’t be bothered” meal:
“I can scramble eggs in a few minutes, while the toast cooks, and I’ll call that dinner. If I really don’t feel like cooking, then I’ll get take out. We live in a small town that has surprisingly good, but limited, options for take out. Thai, pizza and Indian are on rotation.”
Her secret magic ingredient:
“I try to think about what will give me the biggest hit of flavor for the least amount of work. My current favourite trick is to make a herb and garlic oil that I store in the fridge and use to drizzle over eggs, salads, potatoes and meat. It brightens up an otherwise simple and quick dish.”
On the “holy trinity”:
“When I first discovered the combination of kale, eggs, feta and chickpeas under the broiler, I ate it four times in one week. It’s delicious, easy and good for you—that’s the holy trinity as far as I’m concerned.”
Grilled kale and chickpea salad
Adapted from a recipe by Amelia Crook
Note from Ann: I loved this salad’s juxtaposition of flavors and textures—it’s tangy, salty, and crunchy with jammy bursts from the roasted tomatoes. Amelia tops her salad with a fried egg: “Lemon and feta combine with the egg yolk to form a creamy, tangy dressing that oozes over the blackened, crunchy kale, warm tomatoes and slightly crispy chickpeas,” she says. But since I’d already eaten a few eggs this week, I decided to mix mine with quinoa, which added a delicate crunch and wholesome heartiness.
2 cups curly kale leaves, torn into bite-size pieces (washed and well-dried)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can chickpeas, drained
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup feta cheese
2 eggs (optional—see below for variation)
3/4 cup quinoa (optional—see below for variation)
Salt and pepper
Preheat the broiler on high.
In a large bowl, toss the kale, cherry tomatoes, and chickpeas with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread evenly over a large baking sheet and place under the broiler. Cook for about 4 minutes, checking after a minute or two, to make sure the kale isn’t aflame. Rotate the tray and broil for another 4 minutes. Amelia says, “You want the kale to have crispy edges, with green in the middle. Some of the edges will go black but this just adds a good charcoal flavor.”
If you’re using the eggs: Fry two eggs sunny side up, until the whites are set and the yolks still runny. Divide the salad between two plates, sprinkle over the feta and a spritz of lemon juice. Place an egg on top of each portion. Enjoy!
If you’re using the quinoa: Prepare it according to the package instructions. (I made it in my rice cooker by rinsing, draining thoroughly, and adding a 2-1 ratio of water to grain.) When the quinoa is cooked, drizzle in a glug of olive oil. Toss the quinoa with the kale salad, juice of half a lemon, feta cheese. Season generously. Enjoy!
(Photos from Amelia Crook, except for top and bottom.)