I hadn’t heard of Nigel Slater before I landed in this fine country, but I’ve really taken to him. There’s something charming and earnest in his boyishly enthusiastic manner that inspires a certain recklessness in the kitchen – and I think we could all do with some of that now and again. ‘Use every last bit,’ he commands from the screen, turning pumpkin skin into crisps and dangerously ripe cherries into a tart. Don’t be afraid to experiment, just trust the flavours, be inventive and it will all work out.
A worthy mantra, especially if you’re living on a budget and your palate has progressed beyond the student days of burgers and pasta.
As soon as I saw curly kale, I knew I wanted to try it. It’s a hardy winter vegetable, a type of cabbage, rich in vitamins and minerals and perfect for the cold weather because you can cook it. No longer need your long, crisp nights be accompanied by an equally chilly salad.
The fantastic thing about curly kale is that when cooked, it takes on a substantial weightiness that can hold its own against meat, whilst also keeping its light, springy form. Like most greens, it doesn’t taste like much – all the better to flavour it with.
I confess I tweaked Nigel’s original recipe a little – I felt it needed just a little more to take on the complexity my stomach associates with a full meal. This is a perfect winter dinner; filling, nutritious and ready to eat in about fifteen minutes.
Spicy chorizo and curly kale
100g cooking chorizo (about 2 links)
100g curly kale, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Half a cup of edamame beans, cooked
Quarter of a cup of peas, frozen
Small handful of almonds (optional)
Remove the chorizo from its skin and pull the links into small pieces. You can chop them, of course, but I rather like the way pulling forms them into ragged sausage balls which then go on to have gloriously browned peaks.
Place the chorizo over medium heat and cook through – it should only take about 3 minutes if your pieces are small. Remove and set on kitchen paper.
Drain the fat and discard, but don’t wipe down the pan – the oil will help you to fry everything else and imbue it with the wonderful flavours of the chorizo. Turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic slices, followed by the peas and kale.
Fry until the kale starts turning a dark, shiny green, then add the cooked edamame beans and the chorizo back to the pan. Keep over a medium heat until the tough stalks of the kale are cooked through, then season to taste and serve on a large plate with a scattering of almonds.