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Pommes de terre with kale and yams

Updated on October 11, 2015
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A long-time whole-grain baker, Kathryn discovered the thrill and ease of cooking with whole, fresh foods decades ago. Still chopping!

Pommes de terre with kale and yams
Pommes de terre with kale and yams | Source

Pommes de terre is French for potatoes and literally means apples of the earth. But doesn't it make a simple dish sound festive? A bit exotic?

Not to disappoint, I can tell you it is! This colorful dish, made with tender Yukon Gold or red potatoes, yams and seasonal kale contains a secret ingredient that will set your taste buds singing.

With the cornucopia of fresh produce available year round, you can dress this dish up as a vegetarian entrée on your Thanksgiving/holiday table, or dress it down for an everyday supper any time.

For Thanksgiving and Christmas, we serve it two ways: As the centerpiece of our vegetarian holiday dinner, or a take-a-long side dish for our contribution to a family gathering. Either way, it's as healthy as it is tasty and appealing to the eye.

At home, this hearty one-pan supper, ready in minutes, satisfies when we're too tired to do anything but toss a few ingredients in a pan and sit down together with a plate of simple fare and a glass of wine.

If you're lucky enough to have leftovers, reheat for a quick work-day lunch. It's all good.

Which kale do you prefer?

Dinosaur kale on the supermarket shelf
Dinosaur kale on the supermarket shelf | Source

Throughout the long winter, we make our pommes de terre with whatever variety is fresh and in season, but our favorite is red kale, also known as Red Russian kale. What's yours?

For a photo and brief--as in teeny, tiny--description of each of the choices in the poll below, see Guide to Different Varieties on EcoLocalizer.

Frilly, purple or plain

Which kale is your favorite?

See results

Before we begin, here's a time-saving tip for quick prep time

Kale soaking in a salt bath
Kale soaking in a salt bath | Source

Soak the kale in a salt bath

If you're like me, cleaning all those nubby, frilly leaves and stalks takes time I'd rather spend doing almost anything else. No longer! Now I soak my kale in a salt and vinegar bath, then spin it nearly dry in a salad spinner. Here's how it works.

To clean the kale, set it to soak in a big bowl of water with about 1/4 cup white vinegar and a tablespoon of sea salt.

Let it soak about ten minutes, while you clean and chop the potatoes, onions and garlic and heat the oil in the skillet.

The vinegar is mildly disinfectant. The salt, also mildly disinfecting, brings any bugs to the surface so you can skim them off. It's just plain easier than trying to wash each bump and curl by hand.

While the potatoes are cooking, rinse and drain the kale twice, then pat it dry with a clean dish towel or spin-dry in your salad spinner. Chop to taste. We like smaller bites of kale, but be aware that it shrinks quite a lot in cooking.

By the time the kale is chopped, the potatoes should be crunchy tender and ready for the kale.

The salad spinner--Another time-saving tool

A salad spinner makes quick work of removing the moisture from your washed leafy greens, especially crinkly or curly kale.

I own a Zyliss now, have owned it for years, but if it ever breaks, I will purchase the Oxo Steel Salad Spinner.

That's because we are doing all we can to avoid bringing more plastic into the house.

Two big pluses, in addition to the stainless steel: Oxo put non-skid grips on the bottom, so it won't fly off the workbench or counter top, and we can spin our greens with one hand!

Three limes and a lemon
Three limes and a lemon | Source

Kale sneaks in a nutritional punch

You may already know that kale is loaded with good stuff like Iron, calcium, Vitamins C and K, and those all-important antioxidants and anti-inflammatory Omega-3s.

Do you also know that acids such as the Vitamin C found naturally in limes and lemons help our bodies absorb iron?

Not only does the lime in this recipe add piquant flavor to this dish, but it helps us reap the benefits of this important nutrient.

So while kale adds color and texture to comfort foods like potatoes and pasta, it's the nutritional benefits that make those oft-maligned dishes healthier and their carbohydrates a little less fearsome.

Pommes de terres with kale and yams, ready to serve rustic-style, in my cast iron skillet
Pommes de terres with kale and yams, ready to serve rustic-style, in my cast iron skillet | Source

Pommes de terre with kale and yams recipe

A foodie's delight

This is one of those meals that is a foodie's delight. The scents and colors of the vegetables delight the senses, making preparation almost a Zen experience.

Both red potatoes and Yukon golds cook quickly. We like the red for their slightly earthy flavor. Equally delicious, the Yukon golds, which are almost buttery all on their own. Either is an excellent companion to the sweeter yams.

The kale adds rich, dark color, texture and a mild flavor to the starchier potatoes. Tipple it all with a hint of citrus from the lime, and the ever fragrant garam masala (the secret ingredient), which often elicits the response, "It tastes like Christmas," and you have a delightfully festive and slightly unusual twist to ordinary comfort food.

Garnish with crisp Fuji apples and this Creamy Cheese Dip and Spread (a good source of protein and calcium) you can make with a stick blender in five minutes. Slightly tart, sweet and crunchy, the red-skinned apples pair perfectly with the flavors and textures.

Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 45 min
Yields: 6

The Garam Masala we like

Spicely Organic Seasoning Garam Masala 0.50 Ounce ecoBox Certified Gluten-Free
Spicely Organic Seasoning Garam Masala 0.50 Ounce ecoBox Certified Gluten-Free
This is the brand Garam Masala I use. The flavors are distinctive but also subtle, not overwhelming, and absolutely delightful. The quantity is quite small, so you don't have to worry about it going bad before you've used it all.


  • 2 T Olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. Yukon gold or red potatoes, with skins on, cubed in bite-size pieces
  • 1 medium yam, peeled and cubed in bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch red kale, washed, drained, and coarsely chopped
  • Juice of 1 small lime
  • 1/4 t garam marsala
  • 1/4 C Basic Creamy Cheese Dip and Spread (see link above) or yogurt for garnish
  • Fresh ground pepper
Closeup of sauce-drizzled pommes de terre with yams and kale
Closeup of sauce-drizzled pommes de terre with yams and kale | Source

Like this recipe?

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  1. In large skillet over medium heat, heat oil to sizzle stage, careful not to allow it to smoke.
  2. Add onions and garlic, stir to cover in oil and cook 3-4 minutes to caramelize slightly
  3. Stir in potatoes, yam and salt. Cook covered about ten minutes, turning two or three times to prevent sticking, until crunchy tender.
  4. Remove lid, add butter, mix until melted and continue cooking uncovered till potatoes are tender through, but not mushy, and nicely caramelized on edges, about five minutes.
  5. Add chopped kale. It seems like a lot, and will fill the pan, but soon cooks down.
  6. Squeeze the juice of one small lime over all and stir to combine. Cook five minutes more.
  7. Add garam masala, reduce heat to low and cook 3-4 minutes to distribute the spices.
  8. Serve immediately.
  9. Drizzle each serving with one to two teaspoons yogurt of my Basic Creamy Cheese Dip (linked to earlier), and a twist of freshly ground pepper.

Do let me know if you think you might try this dish, and if you have a favorite vegetarian holiday recipe, or just one you use everyday, I'd like to hear about it.

© 2013 Kathryn Grace


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