This is a great time of year for produce! It is available fresh from local farms, at farmer's markets, or in grocery stores. There are so many different types of fruits and vegetables to choose from it can almost be overwhelming. I have been making an effort to pick unfamiliar things when I see them in the store or at the farmer's markets.
Last year I started buying Kale because I saw it on a list of "superfoods." The leaves are thicker than your typical salad greens so it holds up to cooking very well. I like the look of kale, the curly feathery leaves have a certain whimsy to them compared to other leafy vegetables. It may be regional but I didn't grow up eating cooked greens. The only leafy things that I was aware of were in a salad bowl. After playing around with some techniques and reading several recipes I came up with a quick method that I like.
Sautéed Kale with balsamic vinegar
1 bunch of kale
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
Scant 1 Tb Olive Oil
2 Tb Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Wash the kale and remove the thick stem by cutting or ripping the leaves off, then tear the leaves into large bite-sized pieces.
Drizzle the olive oil in a large saute pan and warm to medium heat.
Add the onion and allow to cook slowly becoming caramelized.
Add the vinegar to the onions and with tongs fold in the kale. Keep folding / stirring the kale with the onions until the leaves soften and turn a bright green. This should take just a few minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Avoid over-cooking, the leaves turn dark and lose their texture.
Notes: This preparation makes a great side dish and is easy to adjust for other greens such as chard, beet, or spinach. If you are feeling like taking it up a notch you can toss on some bacon crumbles.
More and more I have been hearing people talk about kale chips. I was intrigued by the prospect because I am always on the lookout for lower fat and calorie snacks. At first, I was envisioning something more like the bags of prepared taro, purple potato, and squash chips and I was leery of all the work that must be involved to produce them at home. I bought a bag of nacho-flavored kale chips at Whole Foods but I didn't think they were all that great. Finally, a friend brought some homemade, plain, kale chips to a picnic and I loved them! They were light, super crunchy, a little salty, and completely snack-able. I bought two bunches of kale on the way home and whipped some up myself.
I also recently began buying arugula. It often appears in salad mixes but I had never picked it out to eat on its own. Aside from the great peppery flavor it also packs a super nutrient punch. I have been eating it solo with a little salad dressing or mixing it with other leafys like spinach. It made a nice bed for some couscous the other day. Last week I had a bunch in the fridge that was starting to wilt so I turned it into a fancy salad for company.
These are just a few ideas to get your wheels turning. If you have a favorite type of spring green or a way to prepare them, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear what other fresh and simple recipes people are cooking up!
Arugula Salad with pecans and goat cheese
- 4 arugula washed and dried
- 2 Tbs finely diced red onion
- ¼ cup chopped pecans toasted
- soft goat cheese crumbled
- Dressing: equal parts reduced balsamic vinegar and olive oil with 1 teaspoon mustard
- Toss the first three ingredients together in a large salad bowl. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the dressing over the salad and toss again. Once the salad is dressed to your liking, sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese over the salad and serve immediately. For extra fanciness serve each portion in its own bowl.
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