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PAMELA ADAMS: Get your kale on

Kale, some say is an acquired taste. As for me, I have loved to eat kale since I was a child. Back then and for most of my adult life it was always prepared the same way, boiled and served with vinegar — yummy, but always the same. Today, kale dishes are fresh, alive, and, packed with flavor.

Now, I prefer to eat my kale raw and as the main ingredient in a salad, as a kale pesto topping raw zucchini “pasta,” as an addition to smoothies or dehydrated into nacho “cheesy” kale chips. Kale is one of those greens that can be pretty tough to eat raw, but give it a lovely massage with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt, and this hearty green is transformed into velvety deliciousness.

Where kale was once commonly-used as a decoration on restaurant plates, it now tops the charts as today’s “it” food to eat. Yes, now it’s actually cool and hip to eat kale. Search the internet with the keyword “kale,” and you can see how vast this trend has gone. Generally, I’m not one to follow food trends. However, the more plant based your way of eating is the better for you and our planet. This once plate decoration and side dish on the dinner table is now the star of the meal.

Why? Because kale is super healthy!

Kale is a powerhouse of nutrition; one cup has approximately 36 calories, is packed with vitamins, A, C, K, and B6. Plus it’s also high in disease-fighting antioxidants and fiber.

Kale comes from the Brassica family, which is generally known as cruciferous vegetables. Cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are all members of this dense and hearty family of plants.

Kale, to my culinary surprise and palate, comes in a variety of colors and textures to choose from. Of the variety of kale available, I have three favorites. The kale most of us are familiar with is Curly Kale. This type is most commonly found at your local grocery store. It’s easily recognizable by its dark green, tight ruffled leaves and fibrous stalks. When cooked, it has a slightly pungent flavor with peppery and bitter qualities.

Nex,t and bursting with color, is Red Russian Kale. Their leaves can have a rich red tinge and a reddish-purple color to the stems. The flavor can be described as sweet, mild and with a hint of pepper.

Lastly is my absolute favorite type of kale, Lacinato Kale (also known as Dinosaur Kale.) This variety features rather flat leaves that are tall and narrow and dark blue-green in color with a slightly wrinkled and firm texture. It has a sweet, delicate, earthy flavor.

Each of these three varieties of kale can be used as the main attraction to any dish. An important tip to remember when preparing fresh kale is that it can be quite sandy and must be cleaned thoroughly. Soaking and rinsing the greens several times and spin drying in a salad spinner before use in a recipe is recommended.

Creamy Kale Salad

Vegan; makes 7 cups

6 cups Dino Kale - thick veins removes and leaves rough chopped.

1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

¼ to ½ tsp sea salt

3/4 cup shredded carrots

1 avocado, diced

¼ - ½ cup red onion, diced

2-3 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds

Spicy Tahini Dressing

3 Tbsp tahini 2 Tbsp “real” maple syrup – or agave 4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

¼ tsp lemon zest

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1/8 -1/4 tsp cayenne pepper sea salt

Black pepper

Place the chopped kale in a medium size mixing bowl. Add lemon juice and salt. Massage well with your hands working the lemon juice and salt into the greens until softened. (If you like you can add a few drops of olive oil)

Add the shredded carrots, avocado and onion to the kale and mix together.

Place all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together – *Cayenne, Salt & Pepper to taste*

Add the dressing to the kale/veggie mixture and toss together. You can also lightly massage the mixture to give it a creamier texture.

Chill until ready to serve. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds before serving.

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible*