Aletta’s killer kale


Aletta’s killer kale

ALETTA LINTVELT devises a recipe to bring together her two selves — the one who does the shopping and the other one, who has to do the eating.


I HONESTLY wish I was the person at home, who I apparently believe myself to be when I’m loading my basket at the farm shop on a Saturday morning. 

Me: “Mmm, this kale looks divine. So vibrant, isn’t it?” Person who works at the farm shop: “Yes, it was actually harvested this morning. It’s organic.” 

Virtuously, I clutch my brown paper bag bursting with the fronds of deep green curly kale. A small halo above my head, a beatific smile on my face, and in my eyes the glow of a gambler sure the next round will be the winning one. 

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Not even the jostling horde of MAMILs cloppity-clopping around me in the Saturday morning hubbub can disturb me. Somehow my brain seems to think that purchasing kale will cancel out the pains au chocolat and flat whites.

The horrible truth is this: Farmshop Me and Home Me are two very different people.

And one of us will be struck kale-blind and then inevitably escort it a week later to the compost heap once it has turned yellow in some places and slimy in others.

Perhaps the scientific concept that suggests the subconscious mind is responsible for 80% of our decision-making explains my kale affliction. Carl Jung said: You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.

This trend to profess to want one thing, but then do almost anything I can to bring about the opposite result, is evident in other areas of my life, not just the temperature-controlled vegetable compartment in my fridge. And honestly, it’s a b*tch.

One of us accepts invitations to socialise with reckless certainty. The other is panic-stricken when the moment of prior plan-making comes to fruition. (Luckily I live in Cape Town, where everyone plays plan roulette: will they cancel first, fall sick or find better plans?)

One of us wants to be rich AF with a villa in Italy but the other stubbornly refuses to partake in any sort of organised capitalist pursuit which might result in said lifestyle.

And one of us clearly relishes buying fresh produce with the reckless certainty that it will be cooked and consumed. Inside us live two wolves, and apparently the one you feed is the one who wins. My wolves are named Kale Killer and Completely Other Person Who Does My Shopping.

I used to have a similar problem with buying plants. In a burst of green-finger enthusiasm, I would walk around the nursery clutching a flat white on a Saturday morning and buy all sorts of seedling trays for the vegetable garden I felt certain I would cultivate. (Me, the person who only has the ability to keep things alive that can loudly ask to be fed; even my cat is a talker). Not just vegetables, but other plants too. Then as soon as I got home I would realise the enormity of having to dig holes, prepare soil, decide where to plant. I would wait a day and watch where the sun is the best, I would tell myself. And with that the poor potless plants had their slow fate sealed.

It was as if I developed some kind of plant blindness while they withered away in the black plastic in a neat row on my patio. Sometimes I would sporadically water them and slender spindly roots would push, ghost-finger-like, through too narrow holes, searching for the sustenance they would never find on the patio floor.

Dear reader, we all have our dark side. I had to find a remedy to bypass those tempting trays of hope.

I still walk around the nursery drinking expensive coffee, but I don’t buy. Instead I pester the staff gardener with millions of questions about the right soil and sun position, like some kind of bipolar gardening Karen at the top of her curve. And then I tell him I need to get the beds prepared before I return to buy the plants. I don’t go back. This way, the part of me that likes the dreaming and scheming can have her delights, while the lazy sloth at home can also have hers.

Lately, I’ve taken a similar approach to procuring vegetables. I’ve collaborated with my shadow and now we fancy ourself to be French; deliciously restricting ourself to selecting only the vegetables I need for an already destined meal du jour.

On a day when I’m sure I can muster a tiny bit of prep, up my sleeve I have the recipe I share today. On this way, Kale Killer and Completely Other Person Who Does My Shopping can live in harmony.

Even I can bring myself to wash and chop the kale as soon as I get home before putting it in the fridge. The rest involves making an easy dressing with ingredients you might have on hand. Although the recipe calls for the dressing to be warmed, you can skip this step — particularly if you enjoy the firmness of raw kale and the brightness of fresh lemon.

It keeps well for a few days in the fridge, so if you like batch cooking which allows you to add various bits to your plate as the week progresses — as I do — then this is a good one to include in your regular repertoire.


Robust green salad

Kale or English spinach or chard will work equally well for this recipe. I love serving this with a braai and having the leftovers for lunch the next day topped with a fried egg and punchy chilli sauce.


  • 1 bunch of kale or another sturdy green
  • 1 cup almonds or dried coconut flakes
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • handful of sultanas (optional, but very pleasing) 


  • 1 garlic clove
  • generous pinch of salt
  • large handful grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 80ml olive oil
  • pinch chipotle chilli flakes
  • pinch ground black pepper


  1. Wash the kale thoroughly and trim the stems. Cut into thin ribbons.
  2. Spread the almonds or coconut flakes on a baking tray and season with the smoked paprika.
  3. Toast in a hot oven for 5 minutes until warm and slightly browned. Remove, cool, and if using almonds, chop roughly.
  4. Mash the garlic and salt with about 80ml lemon juice, the olive oil and chipotle flakes, and whisk to combine into a gloopy dressing. If you prefer you can skip the heating of the dressing in the next step.
  5. Heat the dressing in a pan or small pot — you can add a tablespoon of water if you must, but try to not make it so hot that the lemon juice starts evaporating.
  6. Immediately toss the warm dressing and cheese with the kale. It needs to be mixed in very well to coat all the leaves. Stir through the beans and sultanas and let it rest for a while before serving, to give all the flavours a chance to get acquainted.
  7. Just before serving, toss again. Sprinkle over the nuts and, if it’s your wont, an extra smattering of olive oil and grated cheese.

Tip: I used toasted smoked almonds and it was delicious. If you do, you can omit the toasting of the nuts step.

♦ VWB ♦

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