created at: 2013-10-03
We’ve entered the post-summer, pre-holidays lull. This is the time I try to eat sensibly, knowing all bets are off come Thanksgiving (or, this year, Thanksgivukkah). And then Christmas. And then New Year’s Eve. October is basically my last healthy hurrah until January.

But the same year-round rule applies whether it’s before or during the holidays: The food I eat has to taste good. It may sound simple, but I just won’t sacrifice flavor for fewer calories. And with this dish, you don’t have to.

You may have written off kale as a trendy snack for yogis and health nuts, or thought the only way to eat it was in a smoothie or salad. But there’s a reason behind all the hype: It’s tasty, healthy and versatile. They don’t name a day after just any leafy green vegetable.

This recipe is my favorite way to eat it—sautéed with smoky chickpeas, leeks and carrots, and served over bulgur. I’ll make a big batch and eat it for breakfast topped with an over-easy egg, or for dinner alongside some salmon. Sometimes I’ll drizzle some Sriracha over it if I’m feeling spicy, or mix in some chopped dates to sweeten the deal. Eating sensibly never tasted so good.

Smoky Sautéed Kale with Chickpeas and Leeks

Serves 4

½ cup bulgur
1 bunch kale, tough ribs removed and leaves sliced thin
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 leek, root cut off, washed, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Lemon juice and zest, to taste

1. Bring 1 cup water to boil in medium saucepan. Add pinch of salt and bulgur. Remove from heat, cover, and allow bulgur to absorb water, about 25 minutes. (If water isn’t absorbed after 25 minutes, heat over low flame, covered, until no water remains.) Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

2. In 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add carrots and leeks and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Fill pan with kale (you might not fit it all) and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add remaining kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 5 minutes longer.

3. Add chickpeas, toss to combine, and cook over medium heat until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add smoked paprika and toss to combine. Turn off heat. Season with lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Serve warm over bulgur.

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