My daughter-in-law, Taryn and her mom, Judy are both great cooks who rely on instinct rather than recipes. I've been a guest in Judy's home and can tell you first hand that the food she prepares is fantastic and she makes it look so easy it's disconcerting. Judy has no problem cooking in any dietary style from omnivore to vegan and Taryn has obviously inherited her mother's skills. While I was visiting her last month, we were having a video chat with her parents when the subject of dinner came up, and Taryn asked for some advice. She wanted to use the red russian kale that was ready to harvest from her garden. They discussed what ingredients would work well and a plan was made. Judy suggested steaming the kale before sautéeing it but the kale was so young and tender that it wasn't really necessary. With older, tougher kale, it's a good idea to steam it first. The resulting dish was so good that we devoured it before I remembered to take a photo. I brought the recipe home and my husband finally got around to making it last night.
We served it with the simple but amazing Polish Tomatoes from one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I ever bought — "The Vegetarian Epicure" by Anna Thomas, published in 1972. This salad seems so easy you might wonder why a recipe is needed. That's what I was thinking the first time I made it. It's the perfect example of how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts! If you are flooded with tomatoes as we are, this is the perfect way to use some.
(As a side note, in addition to writing several cookbooks, Anna Thomas is mainly a screen writer and producer. She won an Academy Award for best writing/screen play written directly for the screen for El Norte, and additional kudos for My Family/Mi Familia which she co-wrote and produced. She was also a screen writer on Frida as well as other films. She wrote "The Vegetarian Epicure" while in grad school.)
Rice pasta with cannelini beans, kale and olives (serves 4)
- 1 pound organic brown rice pasta (Trader Joe's makes a good one)
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 cup sliced black olives, drained
- 1 to 2 tablespoons capers
- large bunch red Russian kale or other hearty greens, roughly cut
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil to sauté kale and garlic
- splash of white wine or rice vinegar
- 15 ounce can of cannelini beans, rinced and drained
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
- Sauté the garlic for a minute or two in a large pan and then add the greens. Cook until greens are nearly done.
- Add the olives, beans and capers.
- Splash in the wine and cook a minute more.
- Add the cooked pasta and heat gently until hot.
- Add freshly ground pepper to taste and salt if needed.
Polish tomatoes adapted from "The Vegetarian Epicure" by Anna Thomas
- About 6 firm, ripe tomatoes (Beefsteak tomatoes make a superior salad. I like to grow Brandywine, an heirloom, and Beefmaster, a hybrid.))
- 1 small onion, minced
- fresh sweet basil, crushed or chopped
- fresh dill weed
- salt and pepper
- fresh parsley
- 2 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons wine vinegar
- Cut the tomatoes into thick slices. Place them in a large shallow bowl with the onion, basil, dill, parsley, salt and pepper.
- Toss to coat the tomatoes with herbs.
- Add the oil and vinegar to taste, and toss again.
- Refrigerate until well-chilled before serving.