Osmocote Advertisement

Birds and Beans


All the snow we’ve had recently brought many more birds to the feeders outside our kitchen window. A lone starling was joined by sparrows, house finches, downy woodpeckers, seven cardinals, goldfinches (which are beginning to show faint yellow feathers as they lose their winter plumage), mourning doves and the occasional Cooper’s hawk (which sends the small birds scattering). It’s a good time to be indoors cooking and sowing seeds of tomato and pepper plants. As soon as the snow melts, I’ll get my soil thermometer and when the top inch of soil reaches to 52 F or so, I’ll begin sowing kale seeds. Kale is the current darling of foodies and cooks. It’s rich in nutrients, it provides fiber and it’s tasty. ‘Red Russian’ has smooth red leaves and you can harvest them in about 25 days. I like the curly varieties such as ‘Redbor’, ‘Toscano’ (the “dinosaur” type) and curly ‘Scotch’ or ‘Dwarf Blue Curled Vates’ with their blue leaves. Kale is a member of the Brassica (cabbage) family, but even if you don’t like cabbage, you may enjoy this leafy green, which can be steamed, sauteed, used in omelets and in soup.

Here’s a winter kale recipe that’s easy to make.

Kale with Cannellini Beans

2 pounds of curly kale (2-3 large bunches)*
Salt and pepper
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 T olive oil (I like basil-infused oil, but you can use any good olive oil)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup dry white wine
15 oz can of cooked cannellini beans, rinsed well
Freshly grated Parmesan or Parmigiano reggiano cheese
*4 cups of finely chopped raw kale will wilt in cooking to about 1 cup.

Mature curly leaved kales have tough ribs and stems. Fold the leaves in half and remove the entire stem/rib before cooking. Baby-size kale leaves can be cooked stem and all.

Put a quart of water in a deep pan and add 1 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer and add the kale. Simmer for about 10 minutes until tender. Drain the kale and reserve the water for another use — you can drink it or add it to soup. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and rosemary and saute for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking for another 4 minutes. Chop the kale into small pieces. Add the beans and kale and cook a few more minutes to heat. Place in a bowl and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Good as a side dish or enjoy as a warm salad with some fresh French or pumpernickel bread.

categories

popular

Article Thumbnail
Blog
From Garden to Table

No one wants to think about gardening when the temperatures hover in the single digits and the wind is howling, but before ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Gardening for Your Taste Buds

In a few weeks, we can start planting tomatoes and peppers as well as sowing seeds of squash, eggplant, beans and other ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Harvest Schmarvest

Some gardeners are able to make graceful transitions from season to season. In my case, I find that the word “lurch” is ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Naming Rights

Brace yourself. I’m going to smack you across the kisser with a cold, wet herring of truth: Gardening ain’t easy.


Article Thumbnail
Columns
The Numbers Game

I was reading a gardening book the other day (yes, I occasionally do research – don’t start on me this early in the column …


questions

I have a hoya houseplant that has been growing happily for eight years. It had flowers when I received it, but it hasn’t bloomed since. What am I doing wrong? Can I get it to flower?

I’d like to block an unattractive view of my neighbor’s house/yard. What are some good plant/tree choices to hide unattractive views?

What is the largest tree that one can plant? We are trying to replace some 7- to 8-foot trees that were recently destroyed.

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement