The green currently rearing its curly head in the vegetable garden is kale, otherwise known as curly kale, named pertinently because its leaves are so curly, you have to examine every leaf minutely to remove any bugs, insects, grubs or whatever might be loitering in its voluminous folds.
In fact, the folds of curly kale are so dense, I estimate the average kale leaf, if flattened, which is impossible, would have a perimeter similar to that of Tasmania. The other day I watched as a small bird emerged from the folds of one of the shrubs.
The recipe featuring kale takes minutes, unless you count the time looking for bugs, in which case it could take hours depending on how ‘organic’ your garden is. Bugs love organic gardens.
Creamy curly kale with mushrooms and prosciutto on polenta.
After extracting wildlife from your bunch of kale and washing it (the two processes go, of course, hand in hand), chop it roughly and steam it in a little water until it collapses. (It takes longer than many greens.) Add olive oil, a scored clove of garlic, salt and plenty of white pepper. Cook a little longer, until tender.
Fry a few strips of prosciutto in a pan until almost crisp. Remove; then fry a dozen sliced mushrooms in a little oil in the same pan until tender. (Recalibrate these quantities according to the volume of kale and the servings required.)
Combine the mushrooms and kale and add a tablespoon of cream to the little fluid remaining and reduce to a creamy consistency. Add crisp prosciutto.
Make polenta according to your favourite formula. I add finely chopped kalamata olives and/or finely chopped anchovies, both flavour explosions in the otherwise bland polenta medium. Or you can use stock; parmesan; flecks of basil, mint or parsley; or plenty of white pepper.
Pile creamy kale and mushroom mixture on top of polenta in serving bowl. Top with grated parmesan, grated lemon rind and a little nutmeg. A spoonful of sour cream to finish it off.