The last “Farm to Table” feature of the season is most appropriately given to kale.
The beloved, hardy, power packed brassica that only improves in flavor with the frosty nights ahead, kale, gets the award for having the most fanatical following — and for being the most offensive vegetable to those who are not on board.
The rise in the popularity of kale comes with the new wave of awareness of just how important it is to eat your greens, but this is not a new vegetable. Kale is actually a descendent of wild cabbage, native to Europe and Asia Minor. It is recorded to have grown and been consumed for nearly 4,000 years. Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in Europe. It was considered a medicinal food source.
In Scotland, kitchen gardens are called “kale yards” because so much kale is grown in them. In Japan, kale is dried and ground into a powder for green drinks.
Kale, which was brought to North America by the colonists in the 16th century, come in many varieties, colors, shapes and sizes.
Kale became famous for a myriad reasons. If you are hooked, you know how earthy and fresh the leaves taste. Kale is extremely versatile. You might see far-out-there recipes like kale popsicles or kale cupcakes but it’s easily the perfect addition to salads, soups, pasta, grains and smoothies. You can add kale to practically anything and it works.
It is packed with Vitamin A (important for the eyes and skin), Vitamin C (important for bones, skin and connective tissues) and Vitamin K (important in blood clotting).
Kale also has folate which is key for brain development. It hosts lots of other wonderful nutrients as well as fiber, making it one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate.
Kale and quinoa salads are frequently found in my fridge, great for lunch on the go or to bring to a potluck, very satisfying without weighing you down.
Kale Quinoa Salad
1 Bunch of kale, ribbed and finely chopped
1 cup of quinoa (cooked in 2 cups of water)
2 or 3 shredded carrots
Optional: pomegranate seeds, scallions, toasted sesame seeds or Olympic Onion green onion powder.
1/2 cup fresh orange or lemon juice
3 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp maple syrup or raw honey
2 Tbsp rice vinegar or cider vinegar
3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
Finely chop the kale and put it into a large bowl, just as the quinoa has finished cooking, dump it out on top of the kale and stir it together. The heat from the quinoa wilts the kale lightly. Then pour in the toasted sesame dressing and maybe some shredded carrots or pomegranate seeds. It is great warm or chilled. Top with Olympic Onion green onion powder with jalapeño or habanero for extra kick.