This tasty kale side dish with sweet raisins and toasted sesame seeds from Mary Ann Esposito extracts maximum flavor from a very manageable list of ingredients—something every home cook can appreciate.
By Amy Traverso
Jan 15 2019
It only takes a few ingredients to pack lots of flavor into this tasty side dish.Photo Credit : John W. Hession
Mary Ann Esposito has been hosting her public television show, Ciao Italia, for nearly 28 years, which makes it the longest-running cooking show ever. And it all began in New Hampshire, where she first taught the popular Italian cooking classes that led her to believe that there might be a broader audience for this kind of cuisine. New Hampshire Public Television agreed, and in time she launched a national franchise and published 13 cookbooks.
Her latest, Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy, is a love letter to the country that continues to inspire her career and her travels. She shares stories of making tissue-thin pasta with the masters, sampling the famous Bronte pistachios of Sicily, and harvesting the world’s most prized tomatoes from the volcanic soils near Mount Vesuvius. And then there are recipes — more than 150 of them — to bring the flavors back to your own kitchen.
The following kale side dish with sweet raisins and toasted sesame seeds is simple enough for any night, but special enough for a holiday dinner. Like most of Esposito’s recipes, it extracts maximum flavor from a very manageable list of ingredients — something every home cook can appreciate.
Total Time: 30 minutes
Hands-on Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
In Tuscany, kale is known as cavolo nero (“black cabbage”). The sturdy, quilted-looking leaves are part of a traditional soup called ribollita (“reboiled”). There are many ways to cook kale, from steaming and serving it with cannellini beans to mixing it into frittata and making a sort of pesto out of it for pasta. Or cook it with raisins, toasted sesame seeds, and a splash of balsamic vinegar glaze.
Put the raisins in a bowl of warm water to soak for 30 minutes.
In a small nonstick sauté pan, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat until golden brown; transfer them to a small bowl and set aside.
Place a steamer basket in a large pot and pour in water to just below the bottom of the steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, add the kale, and cover. Steam the kale just until it wilts. Drain the kale and squeeze any remaining water.
Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat; add the garlic and cook until it softens. Add the kale and cook for a few minutes. Drain the raisins and stir into the kale mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the balsamic glaze. Serve hot, topped with the toasted sesame seeds.
Yields: About 2 cups
Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium, stir in the honey and salt, and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reduces by half, looks thick and syrupy, and has the consistency of honey. When cool, transfer to an airtight jar. Keep in a cool place, but do not refrigerate.