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Holidays are a time of abundance —too much of just about everything except time. As much as I love a cooking project (like rolling out gingerbread cookies or smoking a ham), I’m grateful for timesaving recipes that create something delicious in a flash. I love to kick off a meal with Creamy Kale Toasts, a recipe from my latest cookbook, Any Night Grilling. The kale is charred on the grill and then stirred into a luscious spread. The smoky flavor intensifies over-night, so you can make the spread in advance and serve it with grilled bread, whole-grain crackers or crudités—and a cup of cheer.
1 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest Pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated aged goat cheese (such as Cypress Grove Midnight Moon)
1 bunch (12 ounces) lacinato kale
8 thick slices levain or other rustic Italian bread
1 clove garlic, halved lengthwise
1. Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium fire, or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Carefully wipe the preheated grill grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape the grill grates clean, then carefully wipe with a lightly oiled towel again.
2. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt with the olive oil, lemon juice, zest and pepper flakes. Season with kosher salt and pepper, then fold in the cheese.
3. Working in batches, grill the kale leaves perpendicular to the grates so they won’t fall through. Cook over direct heat until lightly charred, 1–2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board and cool slightly. Use a knife to trim the thick ribs from each leaf, then finely chop the kale leaves. Fold into the yogurt mixture.
4. Grill the bread over direct heat until charred, about a minute on each side. While still warm, rub one side of each toast with the cut side of the garlic. Top each toast with a layer of the creamy kale and arrange the toasts on a platter. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky salt.
Makes 8 toasts, with leftover spread.
Reprinted from Any Night Grilling (Ten Speed Press, 2018)