Sunday, October 21, 2012

Super{kale}ifragalistic

Every food blog and health site you look at today will have at least one recipe that involves the use of kale. A hearty, deep rich green that comes in a few different varieties, it's full of beta carotene, Vitamins K and C and a reasonably good source of Calcium. Additionally, it contains sulforaphene which is a chemical with anti-cancer properties; especially when chopped or minced. However, if you've ever tried to eat it raw, as in a salad or just popping a leaf in your mouth, you better have super-saliva and even then you'd be chewing for awhile.

One way that I've heard everyone raving about preparing them is by making kale chips. Essentially, you take the leaves off of the central stem and rip them into bite sized pieces, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and, for the most basic preparation, drizzle with olive oil and a little sea salt. Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes et voila! You have crispy little leaves that really do crackle in your mouth. Smitten Kitchen even goes a step further and pulverizes some of the chips to a powder and sprinkles it over popcorn which would make a fiber-rich snack. (Speaking of Smitten Kitchen-I popped over to get the link for the kale, and found this as today's recipe. Apples and Salted Caramel?! Sign me up!)

Even though I've read about it everywhere, I had yet to try the chips and had only had kale itself when at a friend's house they used it. We went to Portland to cheer J on in his first full marathon a couple of weekends ago, so my girlfriends and I got the fams together for a potluck and one of them brought a kale salad. When she said it was kale, in my head I thought-how in the hell long am I going to have to chew to get that down?! I was so wrong. First, the leaves were cut super tiny, maybe half-inch pieces. Secondly, the dressing was uh-mazing, and it was wet enough that it helped with the robustness of the kale. We were having chicken tacos, so I took a serving of the salad and put it on the tortilla, then added a dollop of sour cream and some of the chicken. Wrapping up the whole she-bang, the kale added a great crisp texture without being hard to manage. I had seconds with just the salad and it was so good. I had to have the recipe.

When we got home, I was going through H's school backpack and found the 'Nutrition Nuggets' newsletter that gets sent home each week. On the front page was a recipe for kale chips. Okay, okay, I get it-I'll incorporate kale into our menu. I set out to a market near my house that I've never been to even though everyone raves that it has the best produce in town. When I got there I found that not only were they right about the produce, but that this place was bulk bin heaven! So, in addition to two big heads of curly kale, I also ended up at home with a bag of cherry yogurt covered pretzels and some banana chips for fun after-school snacks.

This weekend was J's monthly drill, which means I'm a solo parent each month for at least a weekend (in addition to his normal odd schedule), so I decided to try both kale recipes. The kale chips took less than 25 minutes from start to finish, including baking time. While I really liked them, I had my kids try them and H's verdict was, with a touch of disdain, 'this tastes like salad.' Um, because it is. 


I didn't want to make an entire adult meal for just myself, so the salad seemed like it would hit the spot. The best part is that because the kale is so hearty, it can sit dressed in your refrigerator for more than one day without getting soggy. I remembered my friend saying that the dressing used more ginger than you would think-when I got the recipe, that was actually what it said 'Peeled ginger root-more than you would think.'

 I took a gamble and used a big chunk that filled my palm, second guessing myself about five times before I just hit the pulse button on the food processor and it was perfection. For lunch, I filled my plate with the salad, and a slice of crusty french bread-At dinner, I fed the kids and got them to bed then assembled a wrap made with a slice of roasted turkey breast and the salad. You'd think I'd be sick of it, but I had the same wrap for lunch today.

This morning as I was folding the gynormous pile of laundry that I washed and dried yesterday, I was listening to Rachel Ray (because I have developed issues with watching her overacting, it's the perfect show to have on in the background-great ideas, obnoxious hand gesturing. Also, while I know she's made a lot of money on her cook and bakeware, the shapes seem counterintuitive and horribly impractical for actual use and service. There, I said it.) and she made a lentil soup with sausage and kale for her segment on cooking for the week. That sounds like a perfect hearty fall soup (thank god, she didn't call it a stoup, or I'd have turned the channel before I saw how delicious it was) to serve with a loaf of warm beer bread on a busy school night. 

Kale Salad with Ginger Dressing
1 head kale, leaves removed from stem and chopped into rough 1/2 inch pieces
1 carrot peeled and shredded
slivered or sliced almonds (about 1/4 cup)

Dressing: 
In bowl of food processor puree:

4 cloves of garlic
large chunk of peeled ginger root
1/8 cup each of: Honey, Soy Sauce, Lemon Juice and Apple Cider Vinegar

As the food processor is going, drizzle in 1/2 c. of olive oil, then pour the whole mixture over the kale salad and toss so that the entire salad is generously coated in the dressing. This salad holds up well and is actually better after being dressed for at least an hour.

Please note: this is not a first date salad. Nor is it a 'let's get busy later' salad. In addition to being ginger and garlic-tastic all the hearty greens make for some interesting GI issues, so Jared is probably glad he wasn't here last night anyhow. In case you wanted to know.

1 comment:

Crafty Mama said...

I've never had kale, so I will check it out. PS Rachael Ray's "acting voice" makes me cringe like nails on a chalkboard, whereas her normal speaking voice has no effect whatsoever. That's why I like her magazine better than her show.