Happy first day of Spring!
It’s foggy here in San Fran, and the forecast is calling for rain, but given that my first two weeks here have held nothing but blue skies, it’s actually kind of nice to feel like it’s ok to stay inside and finish up a few things around the house. We’re about nine-tenths of the way unpacked, and I’m vowing to take every little last thing out of it’s box and find it a place.
That’s easier said than done, as we moved from a three bedroom house (with a basement!) into a two-bedroom apartment, but nothing irks me more than staring at a cardboard box that lives in a corner filled with odds and ends, that, odds are, we don’t even need. If nothing else a move is a time for trimming and editing, and I’m trying my best to be ruthless when it comes to extraneous household whozie-whatsies that I seem to have a knack for accumulating en masse.
(Let the record show that to free up some valuable closet space James did suggest paring back my shoe collection; a breezy proposition that was nipped in the bud with an acerbic sideways stare from yours truly.)
Back on the East Coast I’ve seen numerous references to death threats against one poor little groundhog (looks like Phil done over-promised and under-delivered…my poor little New Yorkers!), so I’m taking my 60 degree day well in stride – even if it’s a bit heavy and gray.
Weather aside, if there is one thing about this place I know I can count on, it’s fantastic produce, and last weekend the Fort Mason Farmer’s Market was brimming with Springtime delicacies like tender pea shoots, fat asparagus stalks, and bunches of fresh flowers at ridiculous bargains.
We had this hash last night with supper, made with some perfect tiny brussels sprouts and a bundle of fresh kale that was grown only a handful of miles from the city. I love a good vegetable hash; simplistic and imperfect and completely unfussy, they are a perfect way to use up what you have on hand, and jazz up the usual oiled/salted/roasted route I so often default to on weeknights.
Bacon seems to marry perfectly with bolder flavored veggies, and using rendered bacon fat instead of just olive oil imparted every bite with a smoky and rich flavor that was perfect. A handful of already roasted and salted chopped almonds studs the savory hash with small bits of crunch, and a smattering of fresh garlic stirred in at the end just makes everything that much better. (Because what doesn’t garlic make better, really?). I’ll be munching on leftovers for lunch, and I think it’ll be the perfect accompaniment to a slightly dark first day of Spring.
Brussels Sprout & Kale Hash with Bacon & Salted Almonds
You could easily make this vegan by omitting the bacon and using extra olive oil in place of the bacon fat; I think the bacon makes this dish, but it would be lovely without, as well.
A poached egg on top of this hash would make it more of a main course meal – perfect for a brunch or light weeknight supper.
1 lb brussels sprouts
1 bunch lacinato kale (aka dino, or black kale)
3 slices thick cut bacon (nitrate-free, preferably), chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup roasted salted almonds, roughly chopped
kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper
a drizzle of olive oil + additional, as needed
First, prep your brussels sprouts. Trim the ends off of them, and remove any tough outer leaves. Using the shredding attachment of a food processor, shred the brussels sprouts. (Alternately, you can slice them by hand or [carefully] on a mandoline so that they are in an 1/8-1/4″ shred.) Bunch your kale together, and cut off any woody and tough stems. Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut the bundled kale into thin shreds, 1/8-1/4″ thick.
In a large heavy skillet set over high heat, drizzle just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan lightly. When the skillet is very hot, add in the chopped bacon, and cook it, stirring frequently, until it is dark golden brown and very crispy. Reduce the heat slightly, remove the crisped bacon with a slotted spoon, and reserve it to the side. Keeping the skillet over medium-high to high heat, add the shredded kale and brussels sprouts, and a large pinch of kosher salt. Toss to coat the vegetables in the rendered bacon fat, and let the mixture cook, stirring every 15 seconds or so, until the sprouts and kale start to wilt down a bit and brown in spots, about 4 minutes. You want to see brown caramelized spots on the veggies, so don’t be too overzealous in your stirring. Add an additional drizzle of olive oil if the mixture looks dry or is sticking excessively to the bottom of the pan. When the kale and sprouts are almost tender, stir in the garlic, the chopped salted almonds, and the cooked bacon. Stir frequently to distribute the flavors throughout the mixture. Cook the hash for another minute or so, until the garlic is very fragrant and has lost it’s raw bite.
Taste the hash, and season it with fresh ground pepper, and an extra dose of kosher salt, if necessary. Serve the hash immediately.