Meatless Monday: Impromptu Supper, Roasted Kale

The holiday season tends to throw me off schedule, and just like clockwork, there she was, leaving me at the curb to figure out how to get back to January normal. As a result, grocery shopping duties took a back seat to merrymaking over the weekend, and this week’s meatless feature is admittedly unplanned and on the fly, using what was in the Casa Appetite fridge.

Here in Seattle, the skies were steely gray on Sunday, and the air cold enough to allow snow to fall, she reports, wincing. (The city government has been under great scrutiny for its no-salt policy during last month’s batch of snow storms that left the city paralyzed.) It was around seven when Mister MA and I emerged from our respective corners of the house and met in the kitchen.

Lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale. (Kim O'Donnel)

As we poked around the fridge and in the pantry, we uncovered a delicata squash, a bunch of lacinato kale and a package of tempeh. Using bits and pieces from various recipes over the fall, dinner would come together in no time.

First, we cut the squash into rings, lathered it up with olive oil and roasted it at 400 degrees like we did a few months ago. While Mister MA trimmed the kale and removed its tough stems, I put together the fixins for a tempeh marinade that goes something like this:

Marinated Crispy Tempeh

1 8-ounce package tempeh, cut into ½-inch strips
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Juice of ½ lemon or lime
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
Neutral oil for frying

In a shallow bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, mustard and hot sauce, and blend. Add tempeh, making sure it’s coated evenly by marinade. Let tempeh sit in marinade at room temperature, for about 20 minutes.

Remove tempeh from marinade and gently pat with paper towels to minimize splattering when frying in hot oil. Pour oil to a depth of ¼ inch into a wide skillet and warm up over medium heat. Oil is hot enough when it surrounds tempeh with bubbles. Gently add tempeh and turn with tongs or a fork, until golden brown on as many sides as possible, about three minutes. Add more oil as necessary and allow to heat up before adding more tempeh. Transfer tempeh to paper towels to drain. Salt immediately.

The result is a batch of savory, sausage-y morsels that crisp up beautifully and you really can taste the mustard even after a short stint in the marinade. I could eat the entire batch by my lonesome. (Recipe details for Kim's pasta dish with tempeh, goat cheese and shallots.)

With prepped kale in hand, we lathered it up with a small amount of olive oil, then seasoned it with garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. A quick toss of tongs, and the kale goes into the hot oven, for just under 10 minutes. Over the years, I’ve tried many varieties of kale using this method, and I’ve concluded that the dark green ruffly llacinato (aka dinosaur) kale works like a charm.

In about 50 minutes, all three components were ready, plus a last-minute pot of rice for good measure. Not making plans never tasted so good. And since you’ve been asking, here are the recipe details for roasted kale.

Got an unplanned dinner mash up to share? Enlighten us in the comments area.

Roasted Kale
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed
Approximately 2 teaspoons olive oil
½-1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place kale in an oven-proof baking dish. Add oil gradually, and with tongs, toss to coat kale, until thoroughly coated. Add salt, garlic and pepper flakes, tossing to coat.

Place in oven and roast until tender and just slightly crispy, 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

By Kim ODonnel |  January 5, 2009; 9:33 AM ET Meatless Monday
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I tried the delicata and loved it. However, should I remove the seeds before cooking? I did but wasnt sure if that was the "appropriate" thing to do as you did not mention that step. thanks for all you do and give us!

Posted by: antshe | January 5, 2009 12:20 PM

Antshe, yes, good idea to remove seeds. Oversight on my part. I'll add to text in case you forget. Love the delicata too. Such a great way to get those antioxidants. Cheers.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | January 5, 2009 1:08 PM

I'll bite. What the heck is tempeh?

Posted by: capecodner424 | January 5, 2009 1:25 PM

Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake. Wrote about it in October in this space:

It's my new favorite thing, is a flavor chameleon and has a terrific meaty texture. Give it a try!

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | January 5, 2009 1:38 PM

Hi Kim,
just wanted to tell you I made your roasted broccoli pick up sticks for Christmas dinner at my MIL's house and they were a HIT!! I feel like a superstar now, not the person who is only allowed to bring the salad-which I used to be.
thanks for the delish recipe and Happy New Year!

Posted by: awb1 | January 5, 2009 2:17 PM

Thanks Kim -- Meatless Monday at our house usually means he had a bog lunch and isn't hungry and I dig into the cheerios, but I'll look for it and give it a whirl!

Posted by: capecodner424 | January 5, 2009 2:25 PM

We made an impromptu soup using some fresh cod and stuff I had at home that turned into a new favorite. I sauteed a couple red onions in olive oil with some celery and fennel and a dash of red pepper flakes, added about 1 1/2 pounds diced sweet potato and 2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed, one can of coconut milk and 3 cups of chicken broth. I cooked it until the sweet potato was done and then added 1 1/2 pounds of cod and about 8 oz of baby spinach and cooked it another 3-4 minutes. I squeezed a lime into when it came off the heat and served.

I think it would have been almost as good with no fish and vegetable broth instead of chicken, in the spirit of Meatless Mondays.

Posted by: esleigh | January 5, 2009 2:40 PM

Soup - I forgot, there was also lots of fresh garlic and ginger added with the sweet potato and liquids.

Posted by: esleigh | January 5, 2009 2:42 PM

Hi Kim. I discovered lacinato kale in the fall at my farmer’s market and fell in love. But that my neighborhood market is closed for the winter, I can’t find the stuff anywhere! Not at Giant, or Whole Foods, or even at the Dupont market this weekend. (Supermarkets had curly kale, but no greens to be seen at Dupont.) Is this just a seasonal item, and no longer around in these parts?

Posted by: Boots202 | January 5, 2009 2:43 PM

Boots202, curious that you're not even seeing it in the supermarket. Have you tried My Organic Market (MOM)? Next time you are at farm market, ask the farmers. It's possible that other varieties of kale do better in that growing zone.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | January 5, 2009 4:15 PM

For those of you who like mushrooms, there is a newer (well, newer to me, at any rate) variety on the market now that is, well, "meaty." Nice and dense, and a very nice flavor. I've seen it called a king oyster mushroom or a prince mushroom. You can check out a photo at

I suspect it would be wonderful sliced thickly, grilled, and then made into a yummy sandwich with a nice piece of bread (I live in a condo, so, alas, no grill...). I've used it very succesfully in fried rice and other stir fries. If you get really fresh ones, they seem to have less water in them than most other mushroom varieties.

The only place that I've found them is at the Great Wall Market in Merrifield - the ones the market carries tend to be picked before the cap expands, so you are basically looking for a thick white cylinder with a little brown on one end. My recommendation is to buy the loose ones, rather than the prepacked (smaller) ones.

I was thinking that the recipe from about a week ago with dumplings could be converted into a veggie version by finely (but not too small, because the pieces will shrink some) chopping some king oyster 'shrooms, some button 'shrooms, and maybe some baby bellas, sauteing in some canola or peanut oil to drive off some of the water, season with a little soy, and then substitute for the ground meat. I've always found that mushrooms and bok choy are a yummy combo.

Posted by: iteursi88 | January 5, 2009 11:40 PM

Hi Kim, thanks again for the roasted kale recipe. It has become my go-to quick vegetable for dinner, though I find that at 400 degrees it only needs about 5 minutes in the oven. It's so quick and delicious!

Posted by: jules8172 | January 6, 2009 10:17 AM

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