Give Kale a Chance
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Last week I got a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box from the folks at Feast Down East. I was so excited to get this local produce which included blackberries, eggplant, corn-on-the-cob, potatoes, herbs, and a big bunch of kale. Getting a CSA box can be an adventure. Some of the items included may not be on everyone’s usual shopping list, but that’s what makes it fun—you get to try something new.
Take kale. Some people love it and others not so much.
Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. It is low in fat, saturated fat free, cholesterol free, low sodium, and good source of calcium and potassium. Kale has one of the highest amounts of vitamin K out of all of the vegetables. Kale is high in vitamins A and C as well. But wait, there’s more! Kale is a great source of fiber, which makes you feel full and helps keep your digestive system on track. However, if you have problems with blood clotting or are taking anti-coagulants make sure to consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet.
Kale is usually cooked to soften it before eating and baby kale and tender leaves can be eaten raw in salads. The stems tend to be tough and should be removed. The chewier larger older leaves are best steamed, sautéed, or cooked like cabbage. Fresh greens can be stored in a plastic bag for up to one week in the refrigerator.
If you’ve not had kale raw in a salad, be sure to give it a try. Here’s tip….massage it. I’m not joking. The massaging breaks down the tough cellulose structure and wilts the leaves slightly.
This is one of my new favorite recipes that offers the contrasting flavors of strong kale, bland beans and sharp mustard. The recipe is simple, flexible and can be used as a base for a variety of salads. I gave our neighbors some and she tossed in raisins and cashews. Other added goodies could be blackberries, blueberries, sunflower seeds, pistachios or various cheeses.
I shared the recipe with another friend and she made some adaptions based on what she had in her pantry. Instead of red onions –she used green onions. She didn’t have any beans or sesame seeds—so she left them out. She had lots of cilantro so added it, too. Let your imagination take you away.
Kale and Bean Salad
- One pound kale, tough stems removed, roughly chop the leaves
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- 1 14-ounce can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (white kidney beans would work or any kind of bean you have in your pantry)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Wash hands and countertops before beginning. Wash kale thoroughly in fresh running water.
- Place kale in large bowl with the olive oil and salt. With large spoon or very clean hands, rub the oil into the kale coating all of the kale with oil. Do this for at least 2 minutes. Allow to set at room temperature for at least 15 minutes (but no more than an hour). This will soften the kale.
- Mix beans and onions into kale.
- Mix the lemon juice, garlic, mustard, pepper, and sesame seeds into a small bowl and pour over the kale mixture. Store in the refrigerator and eat within four days. Serve cold. Mix before serving.
Interested in getting your own CSA box? Feast Down East offers CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes for purchase. These boxes offer a way for local farmers to sell their products and for consumers to get fresh local produce. The boxes vary weekly, but are always filled with seasonal, fresh, delicious produce featuring eight different local farms. Boxes must be preordered by going to the Feast Down East website: Feast Down East
Source: Grow It, Eat It and Fruits and Veggies for Better Health
Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member.