When I first started cooking in earnest, it was a rude awakening. Who knew that cooking would take so much longer than eating? Prior to that point, my meals involved sandwiches, salads, quesadillas, and frozen pizzas. Eating took about the same amount of time on task as cooking. Then when I was around 23 or 24, a friend suggested that we each make one new recipe every week from a cookbook.
Unlike the overflowing cookbook collection I have today, back then I had a few random cookbooks I’d been gifted, like church and school cookbooks, or ones I’d picked up in the sale section of Barnes and Noble. I remember the first dish that I made for the two of us was some kind enchilada platter that took 40 minutes to an hour to make. We were done eating in 15 minutes, and I felt kind of cheated. All of that time on task, and now it’s time to wash the dishes?
Since then, my expectations have changed. It doesn’t take me by surprise if making dinner takes 40 minutes, and if somehow for a household of two, we are always doing dishes. But there are plenty of times when I want to eat something healthy, filling, and delicious and have it be fast too. That’s where today’s side dish, sesame kale, comes in.
This sesame kale was inspired by a to-go salad I like to pick up at my local grocery store. They have a few salads that are available for grab and go, but the sesame kale is my favorite. It’s the perfect side dish with a half sandwich for lunch. The only problem is the cost. The price of a small container is a little high. So I decided to recreate it at home, and I have to say, I nailed it. Plus, it comes together in way less time than it would take to go to the grocery store and pick up a pre-made package.
Part of what makes this dish so quick is that no chopping is required. Just pull the kale leaves off the stem, and stuff the kale into a steamer pot. After a few minutes, rinse the kale with cool water, and then squeeze out the liquid with your hands. Both the steaming and squeezing the water out afterwards make the kale shrink, making chopping wholly unnecessary. The kale will already be in bite-sized pieces. If you’ve been wanting to pack more dark leafy greens into your diet, this is a great way to do it, because there’s so much kale in every bite.
If you’re one of those people who shies away from kale, because it is too bitter or tough for you, this is your answer. The mild kale goes down deliciously easy by the forkful. With the nutty flavors of toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, and the salty/sour tang of tamari and brown rice vinegar, the balanced flavors make this a side dish that’s not only healthy but tasty too. Even better, it only gets better with time as the kale softens and absorbs the flavors. So it’s a great one to pack for lunch or to just have waiting in the refrigerator for when hunger strikes.
In addition to serving as a side dish with a sandwich or wrap, it also works beautifully in a bowl. Try it instead of spinach in my bulgogi tofu bowl, or replace the kale chips in my baked tofu & brown rice bowl with it instead. Plus, the tahini sauce in that bowl goes delightfully well with this kale. It’s like they were made for each other.