A few summers back, I lived in Cape Cod for a couple of months. It took about three hundred sandy steps to get to the shore and I usually rounded up my day with a nice beach walk and a swim in the mostly timid Nantucket Sound. Despite being so close to the ocean, I was turned off by the abundance of tourists (me being one of them) on the beach and in town. So, instead, I found solitude in the garden started by my housemates right outside my room. I weeded. I watered. I harvested. I sweat into the dirt of the garden, then would refresh my skins in the salt of the sea. It was a lovely combination.
That summer was my formal introduction to kale. Sure, I had consumed it before. I knew about it. But I hadn’t handled it. I hadn’t watched it grow from something small into big bulky bundles. My other housemates didn’t really care for kale despite how much we had. So, I took it upon myself to find something to do with it.
It became the summer of variations of kale salad.
A few days ago, I snapped my first beautiful bundle of Eden Hall kale. As I broke its stem from its base, I traced the iridescent pale purple of its stalks with my pointer finger. I studied the kale’s curly leaves and they reminded me of when you look down into a dense forest from an airplane. In the green house, I talked to Allen Matthews about the kale. He informed me Eden Hall has three varieties– Red Russian, Ripbor and Toscano.
Red Russian (pictured above) stems are purple, the leaves are flat, toothed, and dark green with purple veins. It is more tender compared to other varieties.
The Ripbor variety is common in grocery stores and farmers markets. It curls at the ends and has a nice bitter bite.
Toscano (pictured below) is an Italian kale, with bigger, palm like leaves. It’s not as crunchy when you cook it. Like all kale varieties, it is extremely nutritious–a cup provides more than 100 percent of the daily value of vitamins K and A, and 88 percent for vitamin C.
All three varieties are in abundance out at Eden Hall this week. I picked a few leaves of each before I left the farm the other day. On the drive back into Pittsburgh, I replayed the ingredients of the kale salad I had almost every day for over month during my summer of kale salad.
Surfcomber Kale Salad–
– Fresh bundle of Kale
– 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (or any nut of your preference)
– 1/2 cup seasonal fruit (over the summer I used cherries, peaches, apple and blackberries)
– 1/4 cup red onion
– 1/4 cup choice dried fruit (I mostly used dried cranberries)
– 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
– 1 teaspoon honey or agave
– 1 garlic clove (minced)
– 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
– Salt and pepper
– Splash of Braggs Liquid Aminos
– Lemon juice from half a lemon
Wash kale, dry and pull leaves from the stem into bite size sections into a salad bowl. Toss a pinch of salt onto the kale to enhance flavor. Chop choice fruit (bing cherries were my favorite) and red onion. Add to kale. Toss in dried fruit and sunflower seeds. In a jar, mix and shake dressing together. Taste. Pour dressing over salad and toss. That’s it–the Surfcomber Kale Salad. Simple, yummy and nutritious.
This is an easy and fun summer salad because you can add different fruits and nuts. The sweetness of the fruit pairs well with kale’s bitterness. In the end, I had a handful of variations of this salad. And with each alteration, I was amazed by the flavor combinations.
Experiment with this one.
Kale is excellent in smoothies too. I had one this morning–plain yogurt, lemon juice, banana, basil, avocado, strawberries, ginger and toscano kale.
What’s your favorite kale recipe? Please share! We have an abundance out at Eden Hall and always enjoy ideas, suggestions and go to recipes.
(Flowering dill over Red Russian kale. Dill and nasturtium are both companion plants for kale–meaning when planted intermittently they help keep away pests.)