This is a post from Noel, our new Rebel Chef! Over the past 7 year, Noel has experimented with various types of foods and diets. She was a vegetarian/vegan for 5 years, during which she discovered a passion for making food taste great. She has since moved on to eating like a cavewoman. Take it away Noel!
What if I told you that you could have bacon for dinner? (And breakfast for dinner doesn’t count.)
For some of our fellow Paleo companions, bacon is life. For others, it’s just breakfast. Although bacon for dinner can sometimes mean cooking bacon and eating that and only that for dinner, I’m here to teach you that you’re capable of so much more.
I want to be honest with you. The real star of this dish is kale. Personally, I love my dark leafy greens. And we could all probably use a little bit more of them in our diet. But when you see kale in the store, you might think, “what the heck am I supposed to do with that?” Maybe you even went out on a limb and bought some, but when you brought it home and put it in your salad, you found it sort of bitter and hard to chew. Big. Green. Disappointment. Believe me, guys, I’ve been there.
The good news is that this dish is super easy and quick to make (cooking the bacon takes the longest out of the whole recipe). Oh, and it tastes amazing. My lady friend won’t come near anything green or leafy, but she devoured this side dish in a bowl all by itself. So, consider this dish level 1 of cooking with dark leafy greens.
Kale, Bacon, and Tomatoes
First, here is a quick video version of the recipe. Not all details are included, but you can see each step performed by me in a moving picture!
Everyone enjoy that? Great! Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
2 strips of bacon – Read Steve’s manifesto on bacon to get the low down on this famous cured meat.
1/2 bunch kale – There are a few different types of kale. The first is regular kale, it’s what you’ll see at most grocery stores. It is ruffly and a little tough. This makes it great for cooking things like kale chips. It looks like this:
The second type is lacintao kale. Aka dino kale. It is called dino kale because the leaves look like dinosaur skin. Way cool! Its leaves are smoother than regular kale and a little more tender. It looks like this:
There is also baby kale, which is super tender and has the texture of salad greens. Red kale is like kale but with a purplish leaf.
You can use either regular kale or dino kale for this recipe. I find that regular kale is less expensive than dino kale, so I usually go for regular.
Tomatoes – In this recipe, I use a handful of (approx 10) little grape tomatoes, but you could also use one regular sized tomato if you like. Up to you!
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar – Kale is tough. To soften it, it’s important to use an acid to help tenderize the leaves. For this particular recipe, I use balsamic vinegar because it has a little bit of sweetness and pairs well with the tomatoes and bacon, but you could also use lemon juice or lime juice.
Salt & Pepper – Use to taste.
Red Pepper Flakes - Completely optional!
Tongs – (For flipping bacon. You could also use chop sticks. My grandma always cooks bacon with chop sticks. Only do this if you are a pro!)
Container for your bacon grease – Use something like a microwave and oven safe ceramic bowl. DO NOT USE GLASS OR PLASTIC. Plastic will melt, and if you heat up glass too quickly, it can shatter and ruin your life. We’ll be using the grease again after you remove it from the pan, so don’t get rid of the grease!
1. Heat up your frying pan on medium heat. You want it relatively hot so the bacon will start to cook right away when you put it in the pan. If you put your hand about 12 inches over the pan and you can feel heat radiating from it, your pan is ready!
2. Place your bacon in the pan. Aww yeah. Listen to that sizzle! Cooking the bacon actually takes the longest amount of time in this recipe, so that’s why we’re starting here. While your bacon is cooking, prep everything else!
3. Cut your tomatoes. If you are using little tomatoes, cut them in half. If you are using one large tomato, cut it into about eight pieces. For the bigger tomatoes, discard the top where the stem was sticking out of it. A mouth full of stem-base will ruin your dinner experience. If you are using small cherry or grape tomatoes, don’t worry about the tops. They are okay to eat.
4. Prep the kale. The hardest part of the kale is the stem, so we’re just going to get rid of this part for now. Cut the ruffly outer leaves from the inner stem. Or, just pull them apart with your hands. It’s okay if the big leaves don’t all come off in one piece.
5. Once the leaves are separated from the stems, tear them into smaller, bite sized pieces.
6. At this point, your bacon is probably ready to be flipped. You want it cooked on both sides, so go ahead and use your tongs, a fork, or some chop sticks to flip it. Careful! That hot grease is not to be underestimated!
7. After the bacon is finished cooking, remove it from the pan. Place it on a paper towel. The towel will catch the grease. Let your bacon cool.
8. Pour excess bacon grease into a container. You are saving the grease for an upcoming step so don’t discard it! WARNING! Bacon grease is very very hot! Be super careful when pouring it out! You can get burned.
9. Place your pan back on the burner and pour your tomatoes into it. The tomatoes will immediately begin to sizzle and steam. Mix them up and press them down with your spatula onto the pan’s hot surface. You’ll want to let the tomatoes cook for about 3-5 minutes — just enough to let them start getting a little brown. Stir them occasionally. After they are cooked, remove them from the pan. (You can just pour them carefully back into the bowl you had them in before, or put them back on your cutting board.)
10. Now place your kale in the pan. It will likely overflow. That’s okay. As the kale heats up and cooks down, it is going to wilt and shrink. Eventually it will all fit in the pan.
11. Remember that bacon grease you poured out earlier? Now is the time to use it! Pour it all over the kale. At this point, you can add your salt and pepper too. If you’re feeling adventurous, red pepper flakes go nicely on kale as well!
12. Stir the bacon grease and kale. The kale will probably not have wilted enough yet. Patience, my precious. Let the kale cook for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you let the kale sit on the bottom of the pan, it will burn, so keep mixing!
Eventually your kale will turn a little bit of a darker shade of green and become somewhat shiny from being coated in oil. This is what you want. The leaves will lose their toughness and wilt. Getting closer!
13. While you’re waiting for the kale to cook down, chop up your bacon!
14. Now that your kale is cooked, we’re going to add back the tomatoes and bacon. Yeah! Toss them back into the pan and mix it up.
15. Last but not least, add your vinegar. As soon as you add the vinegar, take the pan off of the heat. Don’t keep your face close to the pan for this step. As the vinegar reduces and some of it evaporates, you can risk breathing in the vinegar fumes. If this happens, it will not be pleasant.
And now you’re ready to enjoy this dish! It can be eaten on its own as a snack or along side some grilled chicken, broiled fish, or a steak! Kale goes with pretty much anything!
Most people are not remotely as excited about kale (and really, all our leafy green friends) as they are about bacon. Let’s hope this changes hearts and minds: You can have your kale and eat bacon too!
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that kale is practically nature’s multivitamin at a discount price. What are you waiting for? Get cookin’!
What are some of your favorite ways to serve kale?
Are there any veggies, fruits, or meats that you want to try but aren’t sure how to prepare them?
Let us know by leaving us a comment and we’ll help you out!
Music in video: Peterloo Massacre “Never Forget”