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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Help! We're Drowning in Kale!

John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist
Hobby Farms Contributors

Fresh Kale Salad - Photo by John D. Ivanko (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by John D. Ivanko/farmsteadchef.com

Our freshly harvested kale sits in a bucket on the kitchen counter, just as the day before and the day before that. Actually, every day this week, we’ve needed to pick this prolific green, which we’re growing for the first time. We’ve been eating it in everything from omelets to quesadillas, and Lisa wins the title of preservation queen, as she’s been blanching loads of kale every night to freeze.

The point of the matter: We’re getting tired of eating kale. The green veggie that tastes so fresh and wonderful those first few weeks of harvesting weeks has lulled us into eating boredom, as the honeymoon stage of produce love wears off.

Enter our hot-off-the-press copy of the new cookbook, Farm-Fresh and Fast: Easy Recipes and Tips for Making the Most of Fresh, Seasonal Foods, published by the FairShare Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, an inspiring nonprofit grassroots group based in Madison, Wis., that champions local agriculture. We love how this cookbook takes a fresh spin on seasonal eating advice, with an innovative organizational method that highlights plant anatomy similarities so you can easily adapt recipes to fit whatever you have on hand.

The cookbook devotes a full chapter to leafy greens, including photos and a super-easy-to-understand storage and usage chart. Sprinkled throughout the book are "master recipes” that provide a general use for a seasonal staple that you can readily adapt and customize followed by four unique takes on the recipe. The greens chapter covers a master recipe for coleslaw and the root vegetable chapter includes a master recipe for puréed soup. The book even breaks down fruits into two chapters: "fruits eaten as vegetables” (i.e., tomatoes and bell peppers) and "sweet fruits” (i.e., apples and cherries)—organizational nirvana for our inner botany geek.

Right now, our copy of Farm-Fresh and Fast is stuck on page 181 in the kale section of that leafy greens chapter, with happy food-stain smudges from the many times we made the Fresh Kale Salad recipe below.

Remember a salad is not a soufflé. Salad recipes by nature are highly adaptable, so feel free to customize. Here are some ideas:

  • We didn’t have sesame seeds or pine nuts in the pantry, so instead added sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds for extra crunch. Honestly, if you’re looking to make a hearty entrée out of this salad, anything goes, from chopped apples to cheese chunks.

  • We also didn’t have tamari sauce, so we used 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 one tablespoon amino acid instead.

  • As much as we love garlic, raw garlic causes too much of a bite for our palates, so we eliminated that ingredient.

  • The FairShare folks offer the tempting suggestion to use this salad as a bed for grilled fish, which would be lovely served at a dinner party.

Be sure to let the dressed salad sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before eating. As opposed to lettuce greens, kale salads improve in texture and flavor when chilled. We like to make a big batch and eat it for quick, easy summertime dinners. There’s nothing like coming in from fieldwork to a garden-fresh meal ready to eat.

Recipe: Fresh Kale Salad
From Farm-Fresh and Fast (FairShare CSA Coalition), Contributed by Sarah Murray

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 large bunch kale, stems removed, leaves sliced into thin ribbons (about 6 cups)
  • 8 small or medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large oranges or 6 mandarin oranges, peeled, sectioned and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Dressing

  • juice from 1/2 lime (1 to 2 T.)
  • 2 T. rice vinegar
  • 2 T. tamari
  • 3 T. flaxseed or toasted sesame oil

Preparation
Mix salad ingredients in large bowl.

In small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until combined. Drizzle over salad and toss well.

For best flavor, let chill 30 minutes before serving.

Savoring the good life,

John and Lisa's Signatures

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Help! We're Drowning in Kale!

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