Archive for the ‘Kale’ Category

Technicolor Salads

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

The gorgeous colors of fresh fruits and vegetables are great for composing “designer salads”, but the colors are also an index of healthy phytonutrients which are a hot topic in research these days.

Anthocyanins are red/blue/purple — think beets, red grapes (and red wine), strawberries, cherries, red cabbage, pomegranates, plums, cranberries, blackberries, blue berries and raspberries as well as dark leafy greens like chard, kale & collards (the red pigment is hidden by the chlorophyll). In plants, the anthocyanins absorb visible and UV light to minimize oxidative damage from solar radiation. In animals and humans who eat plants, the anthocyanins protect against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. They also reduce inflammation, protect against cancer…

Lycopene is red — think tomato, watermelon, pink grapefruit as well as apricots and pink guavas. They reduce the risk of several types of cancer.

Carotenoids are bright orange/yellow, present in carrots, pumpkins, mangos, apricots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes. They are antioxidants that also help improve communication between cells.

Lutins are green but considered a sub-class of carotenoids. They are present in collards, kale, peas, spinach & romaine lettuce. The reduce the risk of macular degeneration of the retina.

So go wild with color in your salads — technicolor combinations of veggies equals healthy! But don’t stop there. It turns out that herbs are packed with curative compounds, too — so a tablespoon of chopped basil, parsley, sage, thyme or tarragon will not only taste delightful but pack a nutritional punch as well.

Yet Another Healthy Kale Lunch…

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Prepare a pot of healthy grains like millet, quinoa or kasha:

For millet, use 1 part millet to 2 1/2 parts stock or water. Toast millet in dry pan until it turns golden, add stock or water, cover and simmer for 20 minutes then remove from heat and let steam for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

For quinoa, rinse well under cold running water, drain, then add to boiling stock or water. Use 1 part quinoa & 2 parts liquid. Cover and cook till liquid is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes.

For kasha, stir 1 cup kasha with one egg which has been beaten lightly in a bowl until well mixed. Transfer to a dry skillet and place over medium heat. Stir the kasha with a fork till it is dry and the grains separate, about 3 minutes. Mix with 2 cups broth, cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, stir, then let steam for 10 minutes.

Toast some healthy nuts or seeds of choice in a dry skillet, then set aside.

Tear the kale or other healthy greens into bite-sized pieces and blanch in lightly salted water. Drain.

Toss the grain with a healthy nut oil like hazelnut or walnut or with olive oil. Adjust salt, toss with drained blanched greens, and top with toasted seeds or nuts and some shaved hard cheese if you like.

Good warm or at room temperature. The nuts and nut oil as well as the unprocessed grain make this a satisfying, filling and, might we add, healthy lunch.

NOTE: Arugula is very tasty with healthy grains, but don’t blanch first. Cook the grain (millet works especially well) till all the water or broth is absorbed, turn off the heat and stir in the arugula, cover and let steam for 10 minutes. I use 4 cups arugula to 1 uncooked cup of millet. Fluff with fork and add a bit of olive or other flavorful oil if you like, and possibly top with toasted pepitas or sunflower seeds. It’s really good, and the arugula brightens up the millet in a wonderful way.

Easy Pasta (or Navy Bean) Salad

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

It’s the time of year to harvest the last of our over-wintered chard before it bolts and goes to seed. Here’s a recipe to put the last of those greens to good use.

* Chard, or a mixture of chard, kale, spinach, or other greens that happen to be available
* Sun-dried tomatoes
* Pasta (or cooked navy beans)
* Olive oil
* Feta cheese or toasted pine nuts for garnish

Cut the sun-dried tomatoes in thin strips and soak in a little boiling water.
Remove the stems and central vein from the chard and cut leaves into 3″ pieces.

In a large pot, heat lightly salted water to boiling and add chard or other greens. Cook a minute or two, then remove with a slotted spoon. Cook the pasta al dente in the water that the chard was cooked in. Drain.

Combine the chard, drained sun-dried tomatoes, and pasta (or cooked navy beans) in a bowl and dress with olive oil. Garnish with feta cheese and/or toasted pine nuts and serve.

*NOTE: I used an interesting pea-shaped Sardinian pasta called Fregula Sarda which I found at Claudio’s in the Italian Market. It was very good. Cooked navy or other small white bean would be an interesting variation of taste and texture.

Mashed Potatoes & Greens

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

This recipe, adapted from Mark Bittman (NYTimes), is so good and so easy that it demands a place in our cookbook.

You will need equal parts of blanched greens (dandelion works especially well as does arugula) and potatoes boiled in their jackets.

Blanch the greens (don’t blanch arugula if using), drain, and cut into bite-sized chunks. Boil the potatoes till soft, peel or not as you prefer, then pour a goodly amount of olive oil over them and mash roughly. Adjust the potatoes for salt and mix in the greens.

This dish works well with almost any kind of greens — kale, collard, chard, dandelion — just adjust your blanching times to make sure different types of greens get cooked their proper amounts. If you are using arugula, don’t blanch, just stir into the hot potatoes to let it wilt a bit.

Mark Bittman’s original recipe, which comes from Liguria on the north-west coast of Italy, uses dandelion greens which lend a slightly bitter flavor to the dish, along with lots of good olive oil. At the end, he finishes by topping with breadcrumbs and toasting under the broiler for a minute or so to add a bit of crunchy texture.

However, toppings are optional, broiler step is optional, toasted seeds or nuts sprinkled on at the end are optional. The real key to this dish is flavorful potatoes (yukon golds, red bliss, something heirloom from your garden) mixed with garden-fresh greens blanched just to tenderness, and a fine olive oil. And just a touch of sea salt.

Chard & Fava: A Simple Peasant Lunch

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

It’s nice to make this ahead of time and leave on the kitchen counter so when you get back from a morning’s gardening, sweaty and tired, it is ready. It’s really good eaten at room temperature, and makes a satisfying lunch.

1 cup split, skinned fava beans (you can get these at Claudio’s in the Italian Market)
Salt & pepper

Chard (or chicory or dandelion greens), torn in bite-sized pieces

For dressing: lots of good olive oil

Wash the split fava beans, put in a small pot and cover with enough water to reach about 2 inches above the beans. Simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, until they get the consistency of mashed potatoes. Turn off the heat, salt to taste, and cover.

Meanwhile, bring another large pot of salted water to a boil, add the chard or other greens, and cook only till tender. Drain and set aside.

When it is time to eat, put a scoop of the fava bean puree on a plate. Next to it, place a scoop of chard or greens. Pour a goodly amount of olive oil over both the bean puree and the greens, season with sea salt and cracked pepper, and enjoy.

- Barb McKenzie