This week I grabbed two giant bunches of kale grown by Sunbreak Farm from a shelf in the produce aisle. A little further down I found a bin full of snow peas from the same grower. I snatched those up too and decided to include them in a recipe for vegan creamed kale.
Ever since my husband and I watched Forks Over Knives, he’s been avoiding eggs for breakfast, animal milks in his oatmeal and baked goods if they contain milk or butter (around here, that would be all of them).
It’s funny. I’ve been a pescatarian for over 15 years and all that time my husband, who makes his own sausage and spent weeks researching before buying the perfect smoker, has been embracing vegetarian food at home, for my sake. Now I’m the one researching alternatives to animal-based products and trying new combinations of ingredients to come up with meals we can all share. A creamed kale recipe using ground cashews as a thickener sounded like a winner.
I gathered my ingredients and made the dish. With the peas cut on the bias and the whole concoction nestled into one of my favorite baking dishes, it looked like something we’d repeat, especially with all the greens sprouting up in the garden.
Turned out it only looked good. Maybe it was because I used an unfamiliar ingredient, sunflower milk, as a base. Or maybe the combination of flavors didn’t work for us. At any rate, it tasted vile. I couldn’t even finish the modest portion on my plate. All that produce! Sigh.
So on Monday I started again. This time I decided to use whatever I had on hand. I pulled out the few leaves of the kale I hadn’t used for the above disaster and a repeat of raw kale salad. I filled a basket with greens from the garden and gathered classic ingredients for creamed spinach: milk, shallot, butter. This is something I know how to cook and it was a perfect solo lunch. As for a vegan version? I’ll keep looking.
Creamy garden greens
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
large colander full of garden greens, whatever you have on hand
(I used kale, broccoli raab, spinach and mizuna)
1 cup whole milk
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour
a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg
Celtic sea salt
freshly ground pepper
raw cashew pieces, lightly toasted
Makes one satisfying serving
Wash greens by plunging them into a sink full of cold water
and swooshing them around until all the grit is released from
the leaves and settles on the bottom. Do not pat or spin dry.
Place hearty greens (kale, raab) in a large skillet with water
still clinging to the leaves. Cook over medium heat, stirring
occasionally and splashing extra water in when necessary to keep
the pan from going completely dry. After 4 or 5 minutes, when
the leaves are almost wilted, add the tender greens (spinach,
mizuna) and stir until all leaves are wilted, 2-3 more minutes.
Place leaves in a strainer and press excess water out into the
sink using the back of a spoon. Place greens on a cutting board
and roughly chop. Wipe out the skillet.
Gently heat milk in a small saucepan on a back burner and keep warm.
Meanwhile, re-heat your large skillet over medium heat and melt
butter. Add shallots and cook for 3 minutes or just until they begin
to show some color. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring
Sprinkle flour over the top and whisk to combine thoroughly.
Whisk warmed milk into the shallots and butter, adding in a
steady stream and stirring continuously to avoid lumps. Continue
stirring with the whisk until cream sauce is lightly thickened, about
3 minutes. If the sauce becomes gloppy, warm another ¼ – ½ cup
of milk and add as before, whisking just until it reaches a creamy
Turn the heat off, taste and season with sea salt and pepper.
Add a dusting of nutmeg (not too much, the flavor is very strong).
Place in a bowl, garnish with cashews and a few more flecks
of nutmeg, if desired.