Why meatless on Mondays? Not only is eating less animal protein a healthy diet choice, curbing your meat consumption can have a significant environmental impact too. In 2006 the UN Food and Agriculture Organization reported that animal agriculture accounts for a full 19 percent of greenhouse gases—more than the transportation sector. Best of all, with recipes like these, it can be a delicious weekly habit.
With so many farmers markets and CSA programs available all over the country, it’s getting harder and harder to find an excuse not to follow an “eat local” mantra. Whether you’re in the country or the suburbs or even—especially, really—a city, you can find terrific locally grown food at your fingertips. And with all we know about the hazards that non-local food can cause our world and ourselves, why would anyone with just a little knowledge not choose to eat as local as possible all the time?
I’ll tell you why. Because it is not even February and I am so sick of eating kale and potatoes. After all the soups and stews and chips and fries, after the kale pizzas and the potato gratins, the last things I’m craving are kale and potatoes. But guess what was in my January CSA box? Kale and potatoes.
It’s easy to follow the eat-local ethos during the bounty of summer. Tomatoes and zucchini and corn and herbs—these days they are the stuff of dreams. But for those of us who try our best to meet the challenge of eating locally year-round, we’re having kale and potatoes for dinner. Still, there’s no reason to suffer. It just takes a little to turn these humble (and at this point, boring) ingredients into an incredibly delicious meal. I look to the arena of the dumpling for inspiration. The Italians make gnocchi. The Germans make Schupfnudeln (basically long gnocchi that are fried in butter). And at my dinner table, I meet them in the middle by making a gnocchi-style dumpling that I then fry in olive oil with some baby kale. It might not be a bright summer tomato salad with lots of fresh herbs, but it is an exciting take on the workhorse winter ingredients that I have to work with.
Fried Potato Dumplings With Baby Kale
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes
4 large eggs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
A pinch dried red pepper flakes
6 oz. baby kale
Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Cover the potatoes with salted water in a large pot, then bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool to warm. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer, then stir in the eggs, flour, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, forming a dough. If the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon of flour. Flour a work surface generously, then cut the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a 1/2-inch log, then cut into pieces. Cook the dumplings in boiling salted water until they float for 2 minutes, about 4 minutes total. Drain the dumplings and let cool to warm.
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat until hot. Stir in the dumplings and cook, stirring once or twice, until browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and the pepper flakes. Stir the kale into the skillet and toss until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and serve.