Those of you who know me in real life know that I am a homebody and closet introvert. Managing such a personality is a delicate balance in a world of text text text tweet tweet tweet. People tell me it’s a strange way to be for someone in my line of work. I tell them it’s easier to understand people when you listen twice as much as you talk.
Recently it has become hard for me to get the alone time I need. I am working 7 days a week at two public-facing jobs. One is in PR for a major food brand and one is at a restaurant. Living in a big condo building also cracks the shell that I crave. I can’t leave my house without seeing someone I know. Literally. Even if there’s no one else around there’s always the friendly 24/7 security guards. Bless everyone — it’s nice to fit in to a community — but I do feel that my private routines are being violated one after another.
I find comfort in my passion for food, specifically in cooking for one. Whittling down a mess of pots and pans to a single plate of good food gives me the feeling of being home.
Braised Kale with Tomato and Anchovy Soffritto
*from A16: Food + Wine by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
4 anchovy filets
1/2 cup tomato paste
2/3 cup water
2 pounds kale
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
To make the soffritto, in a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Stir in the onion and anchovies and sweat, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Stir in the tomato paste and fry, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes, or until the paste turns from bright red to a deep rust. You need to cook the tomato paste this long to develop the rich, full flavor of the soffritto.
Deglaze the pan with the water, dislodging any browned bits from the pan bottom. Adjust the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, stirring every 10 minutes, for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture develops a pastelike texture. If the mixture starts to brown too quickly, stir in a splash of water and continue to simmer.
Pass the soffritto through the medium or fine disk of a food mill into a bowl and set aside. Alternatively, smash the soffritto against the sides of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. You should have about 3/4 cup. Set aside.
Using kitchen shears or a sharp paring knife, remove the center ribs from the kale leaves. Cut the ribs crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces and set aside. Stack 3 to 5 leaves, roll them up lengthwise, and cut crosswise to create 1-inch-wide ribbons. Repeat with the remaining leaves. Rinse the leaf pieces and rib pieces separately in several changes of water until the water is clear.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rib pieces and blanch for about 12 minutes, or until tender. Using a wire skimmer, transfer them to a large, towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Working in batches, add the leaves to the boiling water and blanch each batch for about 8 minutes, or until tender, then transfer to the baking sheet.
Give the pot a quick rinse and return it to the stove. Add the olive oil and warm over medium heat. Stir in the soffritto and cook for about 1 minute, or until it is sizzling. Stir in the kale, add about 1/2 cup water, adjust the heat to low, and simmer the kale for about 5 minutes, or until it is very tender and has absorbed the flavor from the soffritto. If the kale is too dry, add a splash of water and continue braising. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
Transfer the kale to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately.