Friday, April 12, 2013

A-Z blogging challenge:
K is for Kale

I know, I know, kale is all the rage, kinda like quinoa. But that doesn't mean it's not worthy of all the recent love and adulation. Kale is a powerhouse.

Much like any other produce, kale that comes from a garden patch tastes exponentially better than storebought kale. It's true; I hope you give it a try if you haven't already. There are some really great, pest-resistent kale varieties that are tender and long-lasting into the heat of the summer; my two favorites are Tuscan kale and Red Russian kale. If your grocery store is anything like most of the grocery stores where I live, it's curly green kale and curly red kale, period. And imagine how long ago it was picked... yep, it's the garden for me, whenever possible.

Right now the garden is not quite there, yet. If we had overwintered our kale (which would have been possible with the mild winter we enjoyed), maybe. But we didn't. So when I discovered a box of baby kale in the produce section recently, I did a happy dance. Making the assumption that tiny would equal flavorful turned out well in this case. I have been meaning to make a version of a salad with kale and shaved Brussels sprouts that's been making the rounds on Pinterest lately (Costco even has one, bagged, I believe), so when the letter "K" approached in the alphabet blogging challenge, it was my perfect excuse to bust out the salad supper.

Kale, Brussels sprouts and asparagus salad
Serves 1 as a meal, 2 as a side
2 cups baby kale leaves
6 Brussels sprouts, sliced very thinly (if you have a mandoline, bust it out)
6 stalks asparagus, steamed and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
3 Tbsp. simple vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and pat dry the kale. Slice the Brussels sprouts, as thinly as possible; if you don't have a mandoline, the best method would be to halve the sprout lengthwise, then slice thinly--I sliced them whole with the mandoline and that worked very well. (Careful for the fingertips!)

Chop the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces. Put in a medium size bowl, and add the hazelnuts and blue cheese; drizzle the vinaigrette over the mixture and toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to plates and serve.

Side note about the Brussels sprouts: don't be frightened. I know many people who avoid the vegetable, having had atrocious dishes at the holidays where they've been over/wrongly cooked. Raw, they are just baby cabbages, so think of this as a kind of coleslaw! They really provided an excellent flavor counterpoint to the kale and worked very well with the blue cheese and hazelnuts (well, what doesn't work well with blue cheese and hazelnuts, really?).

If you are not lucky enough to find baby kale, which is very tender, regular kale will work fine, but you'll need to treat it a bit differently. Have you ever massaged raw kale? It's a fabulous trick to soften kale and makes excellent use of larger kale leaves, once you've taken out the center spine.

We also steam kale, put it in soups and smoothies, and kale chips are on the list to make soon--I hear great things about them. What's your favorite way to eat kale?

What's this A-Z business about? Check out my kick-off post. And stay tuned for the random joy and nonsense I concoct during the month of April!


  1. I'll give the salad a try, but I recently purchased some kale and quickly remembered why I did not like it as a child. :)

    Shirletta @ Shirleyisnotmyname

    1. For me, it all depends on how it's prepared, Shirletta. I was quite surprised the first time I made a massaged kale salad, it was very different than any kale I'd had previously, and very good.

      Thanks for popping by!

  2. I love all greens, but have never tried kale, except for the curly green and curly red kale. I will have to try growing some of the other varieties. Asparagus, however, I just don't have a taste for. Is there anything else you can substitute in the salad or just leave them out? I'm also looking forward to the kale chips. Sounds yummy! :)
    A to Z April Blogging Challenge

    1. You could put just about any vegetable you like in this salad, Debra. I almost put avocado and tomato--and just might, next time. I also thought doing a "sweeter" version with dried cranberries might be good too--or grapes, I love grapes in salads. I have a great love for salads as meals, so I could go on and on here...

      Thanks for coming by!

  3. I've pinned this as a recipe to try!

    1. I just had another variation tonight, with grapefruit and avocado and parmesan for the cheese. It was really enjoyable!

  4. K: I haven't jumped on the kale bandwagon yet. Your varied uses might be the push I need.

    1. Come visit and I'll make you a kale smoothie. It's really quite delicious! Or, we could just ease you in with a kale salad--I'm rather addicted to those right now.


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