Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Favored Tasty Green

    One of my many spring loves is the appearance of fresh greens in the kitchen; among them, kale is a favorite. Hearty sets and fresh new seedlings are found in this month's garden, but if I were to be honest, I would have to say I found kale intimidating when we first grew it. As a relative of collards and mustard greens, memories of my grandmother's vinegary wilted greens made me leery. Test and trial are the friends of every cook, and after some yeahs and nays kale has found its place at our table.
    Cooked or fresh, kale does require a healthy dose of acidity for best results. I prep my kale with a good washing, patting it dry, and removing the tough midrib. Tender leaves are chopped or slivered before tossing in a gentle dose of fresh citrus (lemon, lime or orange), or balsamic and a dash of salt. Using my hands I work the juice and salt into the leaves..rubbing and massaging until every bit is well coated. On the counter it sits to 'work' while other elements are prepared.
    The density of kale lends well to saute. I love mine with fresh garlic, some crushed red peppers and a drizzle of olive oil. Just a dash in the pan offers a bright color and tender leaf. My teens always loved kale dressed only in lemon and salt baked at 400 degrees for five to seven minutes, yielding a crisp chip-like result. Both are great with roasted meat or baked fish.
     Fresh kale makes for a hearty, nutrient dense salad with body and flavor. Prepared kale holds up to any dressing- vinaigrette, mustard or cream based. I love adding a few shredded carrots, toasted nuts, or even a boiled egg or two. The latest favorite is Caesar style with tangy dressing, toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan. Farm boy is partial to our spicy Creole and lime Ranch with Julianne peppers and tortilla crisps.
     As the country's food supply becomes more controversial and questionable, we take responsibility for ourselves as much as possible; growing and producing as we are able. Kale is a hearty food source that should produce through most of the growing season; perfect for my region and fresh greens are an easy and nutritious addition to the table.

1 comment:

Dicky Bird said...

I too remember those wilted salads - only ours were dandelion greens. I recently have acquired a tastes for kale. Good ideas on how to prepare it.