Balance, a crucial requirement in all things worthwhile and great, and essential in much more than its principle application to cooking and flavors. Health, for instance, requires balance, because without it, it is just too hard to maintain healthiness. Cheats are always one way to make it through the way. This dish is one such cheat, to get all that your body demands – vitamins, leafy dark greens, variety – in a homey one pan meal that is satisfying and leaves your taste buds dancing.
Kale is all the rage, it is everywhere. Its versatility makes it accessible in many manners, and oh yes, it is a member of the League of Superfoods. I particularly enjoy it sautéed over high heat, with plenty of garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. This fried rice recipe takes that foundation and adds to it Asian and Winter flavors, such as zippy nutmeg, chipotle chili powder, smokey bacon, ketchup, soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil. In keeping with the theme of balance, we pair the superfood kale with other healthy natives, such as brown rice, butternut squash, and egg, with more comforting non-healthy agents, such as smokey bacon, bacon fat, and butter, to create a Super Fried Rice!
Ingredients (serves 3-4 people)
- 4 cups cooked brown rice
- 3-4 cups chopped kale
- 1/2 butternut squash, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
- 6 strips bacon
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced finely
- 4 eggs, whisked
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or smoked paprika)
- 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
Prepare the brown rice the day before. Fan the cooked brown rice onto a large plate or baking sheet. Air it out overnight to make it dry.
Place the bacon strips onto a large, cold saute pan. Turn the heat up to medium high. Cook the bacon for 5 minutes until cooked through, I like mine to remain fatty. Place the bacon aside and reserve a bit of the bacon fat and discard the rest. Chop the bacon into bite-sized pieces.
Add a touch of olive oil to the pan and add the butternut squash, nutmeg, chipotle chili powder, and plenty of salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium. Cover the saute pan with its lid to help accelerate the cooking process by creating some steam. Check every minute to move the butternut squash around the pan and prevent it from burning. After 10 minutes, the butternut squash should be cooked, and maintain some of its texture. Remove the butternut squash.
Hydrate the saute pan with olive oil and sesame oil and add the red onion and half of the red pepper flakes. Saute over medium heat for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and ginger, and saute for another 3-5 minutes until fragrant. Push the aromatics to one side of the pan and in the open real estate, add more olive oil. Crank up the heat to medium high. Toss in the chopped kale, plenty of salt, and the rest of the red pepper flakes. Have the kale sit and wilt from the hot pan for a minute or so, before stirring the kale around the pan. Cook the kale for a couple minutes until soft.
Push the kale to one side of the pan and in the open space, add more olive oil, some butter, and the whisked eggs. Scramble the eggs for a couple of minutes and fold it in to the rest of the kale mixture. Add the cooked butternut squash and bacon. Push the kale-egg mixture to one of the side, and now in the opening, add sesame oil, some butter, and the cooked brown rice. Have the rice sit in the hot oil for a minute or two before mixing it with the rest of the vegetables. Keep sautéing the rice mixture and add more sesame oil and/or butter to the pan to help fry up more of the rice. Season the entire fried brown rice generously with salt and pepper.
Serve the kale and butternut squash fried brown rice with chopped scallions and a touch of ketchup, for sweetness.