When you saute kale, it acts like spinach. That is, it wilts, releases a lot moisture and becomes very tender. Prepared this way, it's delicious in stir-fries, tossed with pasta or seasoned and used as a bed for roasted or grilled meats.
But on a recent way-too-hot day, the idea of standing at the stove just didn't appeal. And since I already had the grill going, I figured I could get the same effect if I seasoned the kale, dumped it on a baking sheet and set it over the grill for a few minutes.
Except that the intense heat of the grill never gave the kale a chance to wilt. In just minutes, the greens went from fresh to toasted and lightly crisped. It also happened to be delicious and paired particularly well with the sausages I also was grilling that evening.
And you don't need to like the seasoning blend I created to use this technique. Flavor the kale however you see fit (some red pepper flakes would be a fine addition). But however you season the kale, watch it carefully. Every grill heats differently, and kale is so delicate it can go from perfect to perfectly burnt rather quickly.
One note about grilling with a baking sheet. The intense heat of the grill is likely to warp inexpensive baking sheets. If you don't have a heavy duty baking sheet, I suggest using a disposable foil one, which most grocers sell in a variety of sizes.
GARLICKY GRILLED KALE
Start to finish: 15 minutes
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large bunch kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat a grill to medium-high. Line a heavy baking sheet with foil, or use a disposable foil baking sheet. Coat the foil or baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Trim off and discard the thick stems from the kale. Coarsely chop the kale leaves, aiming for pieces about 2 to 3 inches. Place the chopped kale in a large bowl, then drizzle it with the oil. Use your hands to toss the kale to coat evenly with the oil. Sprinkle half of the seasoning mixture over the kale, then toss again. Sprinkle the remaining seasoning and toss again.
Spread the kale in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet directly on the grill and cook with the grill covered for 7 minutes, or until the kale is crisp and begins to brown. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 130 calories; 70 calories from fat (54 per cent of total calories); 8 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 3 g fiber; 770 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook "High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking." Follow him to great eats on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch or email him at jhirsch(at)ap.org.