BY KRISTIN CELESTE SHROEGER
---- — I admit that I am a kale addict. I eat kale raw for breakfast, include kale in numerous recipes, adore kale in smoothies and even crave raw kale again in the evenings for a snack.
Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family and is a nutritional powerhouse. Eating kale on a regular basis may lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and build a strong immune system. Kale contains anti-cancer properties and is a great source of vitamins, calcium, protein and fiber. Hail kale.
My heart races when I see my favorite Red Russian variety of kale at the farmers market, especially in the late fall and winter as kale tastes sweeter after it has been exposed to frost. Nic Welty of 9 Bean Rows Farm in Northport grows many varieties of kale year round. “Kale is a great crop for northern farmers because it is freeze hardy,” Welty said. “Rotating kale after super food crops like fava beans adds nutrition to the soil when planting for a winter harvest, resulting in the most flavorful kale of the year in January and February.”
You can find kale at most local farmers markets and through several local community supported agriculture programs or CSAs.
When at the farmers market, look for kale leaves that are firm, deep green in color, free from brown spots and leaves that are not wilted. Store unwashed kale in your refrigerator and use it within a week. Get on the kale bandwagon with this fall kale salad featuring Red Russian kale, red curly kale and a sweet, yet tart autumn berry dressing.
Autumn Berry Kale Salad
Farm fresh local flat leaf parsley
Black Star Farms verjus
Food for Thought olive oil
Food for Thought autumn berry preserves
Farm fresh local Red Russian kale
Farm fresh local red curly kale
Farm fresh local shallot
Local raw pumpkin seeds
Food for Thought dried cranberries
Ingredient Note: This recipe features local produce from 9 Bean Rows Farm, Birch Point Farm and Spring Hollow Farm. Verjus is the pressed juice of unripened grapes. Black Star Farms winery makes verjus locally. You can purchase it online through Black Star Farms’ website or from their tasting room locations in Traverse City and Suttons Bay.
Remove two tablespoons flat leaf parsley from stems, mince parsley and add to a glass jar. Stir in three tablespoons verjus, two tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons water and one tablespoon autumn berry preserves. Stir dressing well and season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
Wash and dry Red Russian kale and red curly kale. Remove two cups Red Russian kale from stems, chiffonade Red Russian kale and add to a large glass bowl. Remove two cups red curly kale from stems, chiffondae red curly kale and add to the glass bowl. Remove paper skins from shallot, trim ends off of shallot, separate shallot cloves and thinly slice one quarter cup shallot. Separate shallot slices, add to the glass bowl and stir kale salad to mix well.
Gently fold in autumn berry dressing to kale salad. Stir in one quarter cup raw pumpkin seeds and one quarter cup dried cranberries. Let kale salad rest for ten minutes before serving.
Kristin Celeste Shroeger of Traverse City is the food writer, recipe creator, photographer and dishwasher of The Intentional Minimalist, a website encouraging farm-to-table cooking with local, seasonal and sustainable produce. Visit www.theintentionalminimalist.com.