Secret Recipe: Bar Tartine's Wilted Kale with Sunflower Tahini and Rye


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Bar Tartine chef Nicolaus Balla's complex take on international cuisine runs the gamut from Japanese-influenced to Eastern European-inspired, and there's not a dish on the menu that doesn't wow in some way. His kale is no exception, with the addition of nutty tahini and toothsome rye. Thanks to Melissa P. for the request!

Bar Tartine’s Wilted Kale with Sunflower Tahini and Rye

Serves 4

For the Tahini:

1 pound sunflower seeds

12 cloves garlic, peeled

1 cup grape seed oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seed

1/2 teaspoon caraway seed

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 Serrano chili, grated with a microplane

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

1 tablespoon ground sumac

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar

1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 cup water

Equipment needed:

Spice grinder


Microplane grater

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place sunflower seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Toast for 10 minutes until fragrant, but not too dark. Set aside to cool.

3. Place 10 peeled garlic cloves, save two for later, in a small saucepan with the grape seed oil. Place over very low heat to slowly cook the garlic and infuse the oil.

4. Toast cumin, fennel, fenugreek, caraway, and peppercorns until warm and fragrant. Then, grind in a spice grinder or blender into a fine powder.

5.  Place water in the bottom of a blender with half of the seeds and begin to puree into a paste.

6. After a few minutes, add the rest of the seeds and the lemon juice. Continue to blend on medium, scraping down the sides whenever necessary.

7. When the mix is fairly smooth, add the cooked garlic cloves, grated Serrano chili, and the two raw garlic cloves into the mix. Slowly drizzle in 3/4-cup garlic oil, reserving the rest for garnish and the ground spices.

8. Add the agave, salt, and more water, if necessary, to keep the mix moving.  The mix should be thinner than peanut butter, but not watery.

9. Taste for seasoning.  Add more salt, lemon, or more spices as desired. 

For the kale:

2 bunches Lacinato kale

4 teaspoons grape seed oil

1/2 cup torn pieces of Tartine Rene’s rye bread or good dense Danish rye

Salt and pepper

1. Rinse, de-stem, and tear the kale leaves into small random pieces.

2. Heat a saucepan on medium-high heat. Place the oil in the pan, then drop the cleaned kale into the pot with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté quickly, just wilting the kale.

3. Quickly transfer the kale into a mixing bowl. Add the torn rye to warm it a bit.

4. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

For the finish:

1 cup Greek yogurt

Reserved garlic oil from Tahini

1/4 cup mixed seed, toasted: sesame, sunflower, golden flax, and pumpkin

Salt and pepper

Yogurt powder (optional)

1. Divide the Tahini between the four plates.

2. Spread Tahini on the bottom of each plate. Top with yogurt, and then the kale and rye mix.

3. Sprinkle the toasted seeds on top. Drizzle with garlic oil.

4. Crack fresh pepper over the top.

5. Sprinkle the yogurt powder, if you are using it.


Note: For the yogurt powder, Bar Tartine dehydrates their house made yogurt at a low temperature until it dries enough to powder. They then sprinkle this around the kale to showcase the tartness of the yogurt’s flavor.