I like kale! No. Really. I do! I am admitting, in writing, that I had never tried kale until yesterday. I bought some to tackle for this week’s super foods recipe. I had intended to crisp it in the oven for kale “chips” or to stew it and stir it into a sauce. So before starting on either technique, I decided that I had better try it. I mean, how else would I know how to season it, or what sauce to put with it? Well – WOW!! You know what it tastes like? Bear with me here… It tastes like clover. Yep. Clover. The kind you found in your backyard and ate as a kid. At least until your mom caught you and told you a dog had probably peed on it and you should never eat it again. You guys know what I’m talking about, right? It’s not just me? Anyway, if you never had the childhood experience of eating the sweet (albeit dirty) clover in the back yard, let me try to describe the taste. Of kale, I mean. Kale has a firm texture, which I admit, is part of what doesn’t appeal to me. It brings back vivid memories of having to wash off those plastic kale leaves that “decoratively” lined the Wendy’s salad bar. But it has a distinctly sweet flavor. I was instantly intrigued. My plans for the kale changed all at once. Instead of having to hide its flavor and change its texture I decided it would be a perfect complement to my fresh salad.
This is what I did…
1. In a large bowl, I put baby spinach leaves, and torn butter lettuce. I chopped the kale very small to combat its tough texture and added it to the greens. (I used spinach as a base for the salad because it was once a superfood and is so good for you. The texture of the butter lettuce is a perfect contrast to the kale and the sweetness enhances the sweetness of the kale.)
2. To my greens, I added an assortment of sweet cherry tomatoes (all different colors) and diced avocado. Again, the sweet cherry tomatoes are a perfect salad staple and the avocado (another super food) adds a creaminess to your salad for a “good” fat.
3. The best part was the cheese I added. One of my salad favorites. A Wensleydale with blueberries. (blueberries are also a super food!) It is a semi soft cheese that has a rich, sweet flavor. It also adds creaminess to a salad.
4. The dressing I used was the house Caesar dressing from The Olive Branch. (That recipe is available in my cookbook.)
It was delicious. My original intent for the salad was to make a savory salad with parmesan and red onions. But once I tried the kale and decided to make a salad with it, the plans changed! However, the garlicky Caesar dressing created a great sweet and salty experience.
I did use 3 other superfoods in my meal. Lentils, quinoa and olive oil (of course).
I discovered that lentils (which I had never experimented with) cook the same way that quinoa does. So I cooked it together! I did equal parts of quinoa and lentils in the pot and added double that amount of chicken broth. Brought it to a boil, turned the heat down, popped a lid on the pot and let it go. (about 30 minutes) It worked! They both need a lot of seasoning and flavor added to them. I decided to use my goat cheese sauce and stir it in to create a” risotto-esque” texture. I think it turned out well. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t risotto, but it worked. You can leave the quinoa lentil mixture as is, too. It is similar to having beans and rice mixed together. Be sure you add some seasoning though. A hefty dash of salt and pepper and maybe a drizzle of that olive oil! It would make a relatively easy and filling vegetarian or gluten free main course. You could stuff it into peppers and bake it with cheese! (Everything is better with cheese.)
My main course was grilled tuna steak that we served over our goat cheese lentils. I brushed the steaks with the olive oil, garlic salt, parsley and course ground pepper before grilling.
Tuna Steaks have about 130 calories, 1 gram of fat and 28 grams of protein per 4 oz serving. It didn’t make the super foods list, but it is a pretty darn good choice!
Another super foods experiment that turned out OK. Healthy stuff CAN taste good! (LOL adding goat cheese helps) Next week we will try to tackle a few more. I hope you are finding good ways to add these foods to your repertoire. I love a challenge and it has been fun to experiment. This week we used kale, avocado, quinoa, lentils, olive oil and a couple of blueberries. I think next time my friend Genevieve will be tackling the buckwheat pasta, almond butter and yogurt! She has a delicious recipe variation to show us!