Monday, June 13, 2011

Raw Kale Salad with Pecorino

Word is getting around our small Mt. Washington Community that our garden is "Exploding!" "Radioactive!" and all out "Incredible!" Well, it is (besides the radioactive part)! Thanks to a dedicated crew that meet every week to garden, harvest and talk about food.

This week we harvested the first bounty of green beans, green cabbages, turnips, beets, cauliflower and the last of the broccoli; and once again we were able to donate a portion of our harvest to Our Daily Bread.

Even though we did not harvest kale this week, there was much talk about how to prepare it. Kale can be a bit of a tough one to pin down, especially when most of us are more familiar with seeing kale used as a garnish then as an actual dish or meal. Kale is a power house of a green, and if eaten on a regular basis can contribute considerably to lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of the five most common types of cancers (breast, bladder, colon, ovary and prostate). Kale is considered one of the best foods out there, extremely high in vitamins K, A and C, dietary fiber, tryptophan, maganese...on and on and on. So why you may ask is it used as a garnish to highlight ham and mandarin oranges? Well, sometimes we are just afraid of something new.

Here are some cooking tips to maximize Kale's benefits and get you acquainted with preparing it:

Steaming: (for 1 pound of kale)
Rinse kale leaves under cold running water. Chop leaf portions into 1/2" pieces and the stems into 1/4" pieces. To get the most benefits out of kale, let sit for 5 minutes before steaming. Sprinkling them with lemon juice before letting them sit can further enhance their phytonutrient concentration.

Fill the bottom of a steamer pot with 2" of water. While waiting for the water to boil, prepare your greens. Steam for 5 minutes and toss with a simple dressing of 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 clove minced garlic, sea salt and pepper to taste.
Optional additions:Sliced onion (steam with kale)
chopped sun-dried tomatoes (toss with dressing)*
chopped olives*
Feta Cheese*
5 drops of tamari*
Some quick serving suggestions: (amount of kale dependant on how many people you are serving)
-Braise kale and toss with chopped apples, hearty splash of balsamic vinegar and chopped walnuts.
-Combine well chopped kale with pine nuts and feta cheese toss with whole grain pasta and olive oil.
-Steam with onions and tofu, add to cooked rice with a drizzle of flax oil, Braggs and pepper.
-chop up well, saute for 5 minutes in olive oil and 1 clove minced garlic, add 2 or more whisked eggs, cook until firm, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper... make an egg sandwich!

Raw Kale-for those who want to move from cooked kale to raw kale...
This by far my favorite way to eat fresh, raw kale. I try to use the smaller more tender kale greens from my garden. If young and tender is not available to you I suggest using the Lacinato Kale variety for this dish a.k.a Dino kale.

Raw Kale Salad with Pecorino
Serves 4 as a side dish
4-5 cups washed and spun kale cut into 1/4" ribbons (woodiest stems removed)
1/2 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1/4 grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon (scant 1/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on your tastes)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place kale in a large bowl. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and salt to make a paste. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, black pepper, pinch of salt, whisk well. Pour over the kale and toss well. Let sit for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with extra olive and cheese.