Have I mentioned how much I love the winter garden? Because I do.
This is the first time I’ve had a plethora of winter vegetables literally in my backyard, just growing and waiting to be harvested and used for my
devious delicious purposes. And our kale and collards are doing particularly well at the end of the backyard bed. So well, in fact, that this week, our collards actually sprouted, well, collards! (As opposed to collard greens, that is.) And if you’re wondering, they tasted like broccoli. Yum!
If you have a plot of land, and want something green to sustain you through the winter that’s not canned, pickled, or otherwise cooked or processed, try planting some hardy greens, like kale. They’re relatively easy to sprout and maintain (just watch for the usual brassica pests), and they’ll keep on growing beautiful and tasty green leaves for you for months.
So, back to our fresh greens. I love having kale in the winter garden because I can have a fresh salad anytime I want, at any time of year. Right now, it’s too cold and early for any salad greens (such as arugula, lettuce, and the like), as is most of the winter. And I’m not actually much of a salad person – unless the salad is particularly good, I’ll often eat it as a perfunctory “I need a vegetable with this filthy meal full of cheese” side dish – but I actually like kale salad.
This particular recipe can be improvised, and is often so in our house, with whatever nuts, seeds, and dried fruit you have on hand in your fridge and pantry. It’s also best to let it sit a few hours in the fridge before eating to allow the kale to soften a bit, since it can be rather tough, depending on your variety. You can add more or less oil as you like (I usually eyeball amounts, anyway), and eat it however you darn well please.
Winter salad, here we come!
Easy Kale Salad
Improvise with whatever nuts, seeds, fruits, and other add-ins that you heart desires - kale loves it all! Omit the cheese to make it vegan. Compost the kale stems, or use them in a braised greens dish.
you will need:
- 1 bunch kale (about 4-5 cups), leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces and stems removed
- 1 large lemon for zesting and juice (about 2 tbsp of juice and 1 tbsp zest)
- 1-1 ½ c nuts and/or seeds, such as chopped walnuts, pecans, unsalted shelled sunflower seeds, and the like, or a mixture
- ½-¾ c dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, or currants
- 2-4 tbsp olive oil, more to taste
- ¼-½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ c fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- In a large bowl, combine the chopped kale with the juice of 1 large lemon. Mix, using a squeezing or massaging motion with your hands, for about 5 minutes. This helps soften the kale, especially if the leaves are particularly tough.
- Add in the nuts, dried fruit, lemon zest, olive oil, cheese, and black pepper, and mix well with tongs or a wooden spoon. Heck, you can cover the bowl and shake it together! Taste and add more oil or lemon juice for texture and flavor if desired. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.