Vinegary Sausage and Kale

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This is one of my all-time favorite recipes!  It is easy to make and a crowd pleaser every time.  It does involve meat, which most of my cooking doesn’t, but in this case a small amount goes a long way in enhancing the flavor profile.

I begin by removing the casing on two or three sweet italian sausages and chopping/crumbling them into a skillet.  Saute them for about 10 minutes until they have cooked through and started to brown on the edges.  You should use a splatter guard if you have one because this step can be a bit messy.  As the sausage finishes cooking, add 1/4 cup of raw sesame seeds to the pan to brown.

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While the sausage is cooking wash your kale, rip it from the stem, and tear it in to bite size pieces. Don’t spin the kale dry – you’ll need the water to help it steam.  Add the wet kale to the skillet once the sausage is totally cooked through the the sesame seeds are browned.

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Fair warning – the wet kale will create lots of hissing when it hits your hot pan.  There will also likely seem to be too much kale to fit, but don’t worry because it will wilt significantly as it cooks.  Once you’ve piled on as much kale as the pan can take add a lid to the top.  It doesn’t need to form a seal in order to help steam your kale faster.  If you weren’t able to fit all your kale in the first round you should keep adding it as the kale in the pan shrinks.

Remove the lid as you near the end of the cooking and begin mixing the kale and sausage together.  Add 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar to the pan and mix it thoroughly (you can add more to taste if you’d like).  I usually cook it for another minute or so with the vinegar and then take it off the stove and serve.  You’ll end up with a delicious salty/sweet/savory combo that really highlights the flavor of the kale.

I often serve this with a starch of some sort.  In this case, I made roasted sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and shallots in a mustard sauce.

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Kale is a true super food and we should all try to eat more of it.  It is a powerhouse cruciferous vegetable with anticancer properties.  It has a particularly high calcium content, as well as beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and lutein.  Interestingly, kale is more nutritious and bio-available when lightly cooked than it is when raw (although you should avoid boiling or over-cooking).  This recipe is a great way to introduce kids or picky eaters to the world of kale.
In addition to adding crunch to this dish, sesame seeds boast many vitamins and nutrients.  They are high in antioxidants, protein, calcium, and fatty acids.  These benefits can be enjoyed through the seeds (toss into baked goods, salads, granola etc.), sesame oil (use for sautes and dressings) or tahini, which is made of the seeds ground up into a paste (use in hummus, dressings, and sauces).
Finally, vinegar is an important condiment to include in your diet as often as possible.  Vinegar contains high levels of acetic acid, which helps increase the body’s absorption or minerals.  For example, the vinegar in this recipe helps the calcium in the kale become more bio-available.  Vinegar can also aid in digestion, help regulate blood sugar, and support optimal body alkalinity.

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