recipe: waste not kale rib stew

Growing up, my mom used to tease me that I was tight-fisted. I would work two or three jobs simultaneously each summer, just for the joy of watching the number in my bank account grow and grow. And when I found out (somewhere around age 16) that my parents had invested all of my babysitting savings in the stock market, I quite literally freaked out.

These days, I'm happy to report that I'm more financially savvy than cheap. But when I see friends or family throwing out rotted produce—whether due to poor planning or simply not knowing how to strategically freeze fresh ingredients for future use—I still can't help but lose my cool.

In the nearly 7 years since I graduated college, the only produce I can recall throwing out was a single head of lettuce, once. I'm easily more proud of my strategic grocery shopping and anti-food waste skills than any other of my accomplishments. In turn, it's no surprise that I've become curious about the bits and bobs of produce that we don't regularly consume: cauliflower leaves, broccoli stems, radish tops, you name it. And just as I opened the trash to dispose of a bunch of kale ribs this weekend, my thriftier self couldn't help but ask, "I wonder if there's a way to make these edible..."

Admittedly, the vegetable goddess herself—Deborah Madison—claims in Vegetable Literacy that "[kale ribs] are tough as a rope and will never get tender, ever." Given the number of James Beard Awards she has won, I'm pretty sure she knows what she's talking about. But I think that tip specifically applies to your ordinary curly kale (whose ribs look about as dense as a cinder block). On the other hand, the kale I was working with was purple leaf kale, a softer leaf variety whose ribs look like a cousin of the cardoon or a tougher piece of celery. And what do you know, braising the heck out of them for about two hours transformed those rough little "ropes" into something delicious.

This is not a recipe per se, as exact measurements aren't what's important. Just follow these instructions with whatever amount of kale ribs you have and—voila—you just saved yourself a meal's worth of money and got in an extra dose of brassicas superfood.

Waste Not Kale Rib Stew 


  1. Wash kale ribs. Remove the bottom centimeter of each rib with a knife and discard.
  2. Cut the remaining ribs into roughly centimeter-sized pieces.
  3. Add the chopped kale ribs to a stock pot and cover with the broth of your choice + a generous dash of salt (I used homemade chicken broth and some garlic salt). The broth should cover the kale ribs by about a half inch.
  4. Bring your pot to a boil, then simmer on low for 1.5-2 hours, checking the ribs for tenderness. 
  5. Once the ribs are quite mushy, your soup is ready to serve—ideally with some crusty bread. Enjoy!

recipe: fave e cicoria

The concept of a "last meal" is one that a surprising number of people don't enjoy exploring. Whether deemed silly, impossible or just downright annoying, it's a question that—about a year or two ago—sprung up frequently popular culture (see: the blog/book My Last Supper), though by now it has more or less faded into the background.

As for myself, I've always been intrigued by the psychology of the last meal concept. Do you opt for the lavish pinnacle of haute gastronomy? Your favorite meal from childhood? A rich, calorie-laden dish that you'd never consume if you were to go on living? The decision reflects more about our values, desires and, well, appetites than perhaps we're interested to share publicly.

I had always assumed that some variation of the Italian "feast of the seven fishes" would be my chosen last meal, especially after the fortunate experience of enjoying a truly extraordinary version of this feast at Franny's in Brooklyn. But then I traveled to Puglia and encountered a meal so simple, so rustic and so utterly comforting in its ordinary-ness that the thought just spontaneously popped into my head: "This—this is my last meal."

If I am to die the way I hope I will—completely unaware that it is coming—then this is my ideal (accidental) last meal. Bitter greens have always been among my favorites, and none moreso than chicory or puntarelle—both of which work beautifully in this dish. As for the dried favas, they are an extraordinary treat in their almost potato-like creaminess. Finished with a drizzle of extraordinary olive oil (there's a last meal splurge for you) and served with a hunk of crusty bread for sopping up the remnants, it's the platonic ideal of cucina povera. Use high quality ingredients, and you'll find it's fit for a king.

Fave e Cicoria (Fava Bean Purée with Wilted Chicory)

Ingredients (serves 4 as main dish)

  • 8 oz dried Italian fava beans, pre-soaked for a minimum of 4 hours
  • 1 large head of chicory or puntarelle
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4-6 anchovy filets
  • 1/2 cup high quality olive oil (I like an herbal, bright, spicy oil for this dish)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • roughly ground black pepper, to taste
  • optional: parmesan rind or 1/4 cup of roughly chopped parmesan
  • optional: crusty bread


  1. Rinse the soaked fava beans and add to a medium-to-large stockpot. Barely cover the beans with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming the foam off the top of the water.
  2. Once there is no longer any foam in your pot, generously salt the water (about 3/4 tsp) and continue to cook the beans, stirring occasionally over medium heat until they dissolve into a loose mashed-potato like consistency (45-60 minutes). (Note: You can add a parmesan rind or roughly cut chunks at this point in the process to add additional flavor. Also, keep an eye on your beans and add a touch more water, as necessary, to prevent scorching.)
  3. While the beans are cooking, wash and chop your greens into 1-inch segments. Shake or towel-dry. 
  4. Heat a cash iron or other heavy-duty pan and add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. (If you're opening a fresh can of anchovies, you can just use the oil from that can.) Slice your garlic and add to the heated oil, along with your anchovies, breaking up the filets as they begin to cook. Turn off the heat and reserve your garlic/anchovies in the pan.
  5. Once your beans are sufficiently mushy, grab a hand blender and blend about 1/4 cup olive oil and freshly cracked pepper into the beans, creating a puree. (If you used a parmesan rind, remove and discard the remnants of the rind before blending.) If your puree is too loose (it should be about the thickness of freshly cooked polenta), continue to cook over medium-low heat until thickened.
  6. As your beans are cooking off their excess moisture (as necessary), reheat your garlic/anchovy pan and add your washed greens, tossing until wilted, but still retaining a touch of crunch.
  7. To serve, ladle about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of bean puree into a wide-mouthed bowl. Top with sauteed greens. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Have some crusty bread standing by the sop up the remnants.

recipe: savoy salad

It's officially too hot to cook in NYC this weekend, so this one goes out to all the cityzens sans central AC. Today's recipe came to me in the grocery aisle when I saw a giant head of savoy cabbage staring back at me. More crinkled and delicate in texture than its green or red cousins, the savoy brings an air of sophistication to the salad or slaw party. 

Following savoy's lead, I opted to grab some equally chichi ingredients: tarragon and fennel. Back at the house, I boiled a couple chicken breasts (with bay leaves and salt), shredded them and whipped up a slaw-like salad that screams less "backyard bbq" and more "tea sandwiches with the ladies."

Savoy Salad

Ingredients (serves 4-6 as a light lunch)

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 large head of savoy cabbage
  • 1 large bulb fennel
  • 4-5 springs tarragon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (If homemade, you can reduce the amount of olive oil. I used one of those organic health food store "real mayo" brands.)
  • 2-3 tbsp dijon mustard
  • salt, to taste


  1. Boil chicken breasts in salted water (optional: seasoned with bay leaves) until cooked through (About 10-15 minutes. Since they're cooked in water you don't have to worry as much about them drying out.)
  2. Meanwhile, shred your fennel bulb and savoy cabbage in a food processor or by hand.
  3. Once chicken is shredded and cooled, combine fennel, cabbage and chicken in a large bowl. Stem your tarragon and gently rip the leaves into small pieces (you can add more or less tarragon, depending on your taste preferences). 
  4. Mix olive oil, mayo, mustard and a generous pinch of salt. Dress salad and sprinkle with additional tarragon leaves for presentation.

Note: If preparing mise en place ahead of time, wait to dress the salad until about 10-15 minutes before serving.