Tag Archives: kale

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Ugly Kohlrabi

When I was a kid, my father would periodically decide to plant a vegetable garden.  He didn’t plant one every year, and he didn’t even plant it in the same spot in our suburban yard each year.  But, when he did, it always meant we’d soon face the prospect of weeding, watering, and eating things we’d never heard of before.

The first year, he disassembled our swing set so that he could plant his crops and, needless to say, this didn’t endear us to his farming endeavors.  In subsequent years, though, he’d find a place along some ratty-looking shrubs, dig up the sod, and stick some stakes in the dirt.  Then he’d plant lots of seeds, most of which would grow into the mysterious produce we’d later come to know as “slimy okra,” “crazy kale,” and “ugly kohlrabi.” 

Why, I wondered, couldn’t he just be a normal dad and plant normal things like carrots, corn, and tomatoes?  Why couldn’t he just leave the science experiments to Dr. Frankenstein?  Nonetheless, despite the still-apt monikers, I learned to love the varied look, feel, and taste of vegetables rarely found on the plates of typical Midwestern kids during the Vietnam war era

Today, I find myself smiling as I think back on those gardens.  And I’m grateful to have been part of a generation that was required to clean our plates, no matter what kind of mysterious produce found its way there.

Ugly Kohlrabi

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Kale Stem Pesto

. . . And now, back to kale.  Not surprisingly, I had a bag full of kale stems left over after I stripped the leaves for kale salad and kale chips.  I could have composted the stems at my farmers market, which I often do, but I had so many stems this time that I decided to search the internet for a recipe for kale stem pesto. 

It’s a good thing I did. 

As instructed, I chopped and blanched the kale stems, along with a few cloves of garlic, before adding it all to my food processor with olive oil, lemon zest, parsley, red pepper flakes, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and a big handful of organic walnuts — a gift from a dear friend with a walnut ranch in California.  I tossed the pesto together with fresh, homemade spaghetti and some spicy chicken sausage made on a local farm, then I topped it all off with grated Romano cheese from Tonjes Farm Dairy.  It was sublime. 

I doubt that I’ll ever throw my kale stems into the compost pile again.  

Kale Pesto

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Kale Chips

If kale salad isn’t your thing, perhaps you’re a fan of kale chips.  These addicting, crispy little snacks are a great way to get even the most finicky eater — child or adult — to eat green vegetables.  You can, of course, spend a small fortune purchasing them in plastic containers at your local health food store.  Or you can save yourself a lot of money and make them at home in almost no time at all.

Simply remove the leaves from the stems, wash and dry them thoroughly, toss them in a little olive oil (rubbing each leaf to make sure it’s very lightly coated), and sprinkle with sea salt (kosher salt will work, too)  and, if you like, pepper.  Then spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan or two (or three), and place them in a 350 degree oven for about 12 to 18 minutes, turning the trays around after about 6 or 7 minutes.  You’ll know they’re done when they’re translucent but haven’t yet begun to turn black. 

Try it, and I suspect you’ll discover that the hardest part about making kale chips is not eating them before they have a chance to cool.  

Kale Chips

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Kale Salad

A couple of years ago, raw kale — once much-maligned — became all the rage in almost every restaurant of note.  It was hard to find a menu that didn’t feature kale salad in one form or another.  In my opinion, its fame was long overdue, and my own version of kale salad has become a winter staple at Chez Ks.  A simple dressing of olive oil, shallots, anchovies, capers, preserved lemon, black pepper, and chopped dates, makes the chiffonade of kale appear almost translucent.  But it’s the irresistible taste that keeps me coming back for more as I patiently await the arrival of spring’s baby lettuces.

Kale Salad

 

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An Abundance of Riches

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that there’s no good produce at the farmers market this time of year, I’d be a very wealthy woman.   And if I had another dollar for every time I proved them wrong, I’d be twice as wealthy.

An Abundance of Riches