While the squash and zucchini plants have suffered some damage from the dreaded vine borers, the kale plants are still going strong. I used to say “I don’t DO kale” but have come around to the dark green side in a major way. The following recipe came to mind when I realized that one of the benefits of kale is its ability to stand up to heavier sauces in its raw state. Warm bacon dressing is used with spinach in part because it tastes good and also because spinach is more substantial than lettuce and can tolerate that type of dressing. Kale is even more hearty so I decided to try out a warm andouille sausage dressing that would match up well with the texture and taste of this particular green.
G and I have been getting very comfortable with the concept of eating “dinner for breakfast” so it no longer seems weird to us to have kale in the morning. This recipe also calls for fried eggs which is something easy to make in the morning and it really goes well with the salad. G doesn’t like the egg on top of the salad and just eats it separately. Personally, I think the egg on top is delicious and the egg yolk adds a nice creaminess to the dressing.
Kale is one of those really scary vegetables. There cannot be more than a small percentage of the population that gets excited at the prospect of eating it. But kale is such a nutritional powerhouse it deserves a second look…or taste. Kale is a leafy green in the cruciferous vegetable category like broccoli, cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts. One cup of kale contains 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and B6, 40% of magnesium, 180% of Vitamin A, 200% of Vitamin C and 1,020% of Vitamin K. One cup also gives you 5 grams of fiber, 35 calories and minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. It is an organic gardener’s dream because it is easy to grow, is disease and pest resistant and produces well into the Fall. And for Paleo adherents, such as myself, or anyone not eating a lot of dairy products, the calcium content is pretty important.
Part of our “Camp Paleo Spirit” summer homeschool experiment involves gardening. Kale is the only thing in our garden, besides herbs, ready for eating so it was an obvious choice for our Day 1 gardening activity. Never having grown kale before I had to “google” the harvesting process. What I learned is you want to cut off the outer leaves when they are richly green and firm but not too dark and tough. You can start harvesting when the plant is about 8-10 inches high. Ideally you should only cut what you will use that day and make sure enough leaves remain in the inner part of the plant so that it continues to produce.
Both boys were VERY down on the idea of eating kale until they participated in the harvesting of it. It’s amazing how the enthusiasm grew after they got to help out. We gathered enough to make one large “Kale Avocado Salad” (recipe below) and it turned out REALLY well. This recipe is strictly Paleo, which means it is grain, legume and dairy free. It also technically qualifies as “raw” and “vegan” if you are into that sort of thing. ;-)
Kale Avocado Salad
1 Bunch curly kale – about 10 large leaves
1/2 Vidalia (sweet) onion, diced
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
4-6 Campari tomatoes quartered, or a handful of grape tomatoes, halved
Wash the kale and pat dry with a clean towel. Remove any tough parts of the stems and cut or tear into bite-sized pieces. Place the kale into a large bowl. Cut the avocado into small cubes and add to the kale along with the Vidalia onions. Pour on the olive oil, the juice of one lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Use a spoon to stir the mixture until the leaves are well coated with the oil, lemon juice and avocado. You can even use your hands to “massage” the salad if you really want the avocado mixed in well and are feeling especially “earthy-crunchy”. I would recommend massaging the salad before you add the lemon juice to avoid irritating your hands. The lemon juice seems to almost “cook” the kale so letting it soak in for several minutes adds to the flavor. The tomatoes can be tossed in just before serving.
I was amazed at the great flavor and the easy prep. The firmness of the kale leaves, unlike lettuce, stood up to overnight storage and the salad was just as good, if not better, at lunch the next day. I can envision several versions of this dish so I encourage you to experiment and let me know how it goes. Cucumber and/or carrots might be great additions. We ate the salad with some spicy sausages flavored with red pepper and it was a really great complement to the kale. So adding a pinch of cayenne to the dressing would probably give a nice kick.