Kale and new potatoes with lemon and sage

kale and new potatoes with lemon and sage

kale and new potatoes with lemon and sage

Here at the Naive Political Philosophy department of The Ordinary, we’re alarmed and dismayed by a pervasive and corrosive trend that we’ve noticed. What is it? You ask. Well, (we answer) it’s nothing other than the very breakdown of all communication into cynical marketing speak–insipid at its best and genuinely pernicious at its worst. Everybody is trying to sell us something, and it’s getting us down! All forms of communication–real mail, e-mail, phone calls, visitors to our esteemed institution–it’s all somebody asking for money, with a product for sale. It’s almost gotten so we don’t trust a friendly gesture, any more, and isn’t that a terrible shame. Everything the boys bring home from school is asking them to sell something or buy something, they’re learning how to be little consumers, little salesmen. This isn’t a new problem, and it hasn’t crept up on us in secret, it’s been going on for decades, and it’s poured over our heads by the steaming bucketful, as if there was no shame in it at all, as if it was a system that makes sense. And it’s down to the very words we speak with. We read the OED, we’re not ashamed to admit it, and we’re saddened to see the trajectory of almost every word from something mysterious and meaningful to something lacking in meaning or confounding in meaning, used to make us want to buy something or to describe the way people buy things. Because it’s an art, a study, a science, a career, this method of persuading people to part with their money for something they don’t need, this way of appealing to people’s insecurities, of making them feel empty and insufficient, of making them feel ugly and inferior. It’s all part of a system that we defend with our lives, that we can’t question or change, because it’s been sold to us so neatly for so long. Well, here at The Ordinary, we think it’s not working, or it’s working so well that it’s impossible for anything of genuine substance to thrive. We want to live in a world where we can make something we love, something we think is good, and we can send it out in the world to share with others, who are making good things that they love, which we’ll share, too, and pass along to our friends. We want to live in a world where everything has value, and nothing has a price. We want to live in a world where we can look how we look, and think what we think, and age how we age, and nobody will try to tell us it’s all bad, and sell us something to fix it–as if the very passing of time, so natural and strange and beautiful, is something you could stop with anything as absurd and insignificant as money. When we communicate, we want to share thoughts and ideas and emotions, we don’t want to buy meds or printer paper or a new phone. And this is our highly-detailed, pragmatic and sensible plan for moving forward into the future.

kale & new potatoes with lemon and sage

kale & new potatoes with lemon and sage

I always think of kale and potatoes, and any combination of kale and potatoes, as being very wintery. Well, guess what? We joined a new CSA (that I’m very excited about!) and we got bundles of kale (very pretty kale, as it happens, I’ve never seen any quite like it), and wonderful handfuls of fresh herbs. And we bought some lovely new potatoes at the store. And we combined them in a light, fresh lemon, kale and white wine preparation. It was delicious! It tasted bright and green, like spring. David said it was the best kale he’s ever eaten. I added some sumac, for tanginess and nigella seeds, for a bit of subtle smokiness, but it would be just fine if you don’t use these.

Here’s Tom Waits with Step Right Up.


1 large bunch kale, cleaned and de-stemmed
7 – 10 tiny potatoes, depending on their size, scrubbed
2 T butter
6 or 7 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 T chopped chives
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t nigella seeds
1/2 t sumac
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
juice of half a lemon
drizzle of honey
salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

Put the potatoes in a pot that fits them, and fill with water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil till the potatoes are tender but not falling apart. This will vary according to the size of the potatoes, but for mine it took about 25 minutes.

Scoop the potatoes out with a slotted spoon into a strainer, and drop the kale and a pinch of salt into the water. Boil until the kale is tender and bright. I like mine quite soft, so I left it in for ten minutes. Drain the kale. When it’s cool enough to handle, wring as much water out as possible and chop quite finely.

Warm the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. When it’s melted and bubbly, add the garlic, sage and chives. Cook until the garlic starts to brown, and then add the nigella seeds, sumac and potatoes. Stir and cook for a minute or two, so that the potatoes are well-coated with butter, and then add the kale and white wine. Cook for about a minute and then add the tomatoes.

Cook for five or ten minutes, till everything is combined and warmed through, and the potatoes and kale are just as you like them. Squeeze the lemon juice over, drizzle with honey, and season with salt and lots of black pepper.

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7 thoughts on “Kale and new potatoes with lemon and sage

  1. I keep meaning to ask, steenbeck – what’s CSA? That is, I know what it is – but what do the initials stand for?

    • Community supported agriculture. We joined a new farm, and it seems very good so far. Smaller, but everything we picked/picked up was lovely and fresh.

      • Aha! So it’s not delivered? I was thinking it was like what we call a box scheme over here.

      • Well, I suppose some might be delivered. We used to belong to one with boxes delivered to one house in our town, and we’d all go collect it off their porch. But this new one is pick up only. I’ve never heard of one delivered to individual houses, though I suppose those exist. I think, otherwise, it’s exactly like your box scheme.

      • There’s only one of me, so I’ve never subscribed to a box scheme. But I approve of them!

  2. love your rant Claire – it boggles my mind how everything is commercialised – up to and including the demands for charity that come home from schools. Enforced charity doesn’t really instil a sense of what charity should (unfortunately) be about – it becomes another corporate idea thrust into children’s lives. As for the buy buy buy world – *sigh* – makes me useless at selling t-shirts – but I’m happy.

    this always cheers me up:

    Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra – The World is Gone

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