What's fresh and in season: Kale and winter greens

By Najeea Leslie, consumer-owner

Red kale

Winter greetings, my friends!

We all know how important it is to eat plenty of veggies, but that can be a bit challenging at this time of the year if you aim to eat what’s in season. By February, the winter produce can get downright monotonous, and I begin to feel VERY uninspired about cooking… and eating.

Then I have to think again--why do I continue to walk through the door time and time again with my grocery bag full of kale, broccoli, and the like? Because that is what’s in season, fresh, and most readily available right now, and that matters to me. I just feel better when I eat in harmony with the season.

Close Friends

Kale and I have become very close these past several years—we dine together often. As in all intimate relationships, we have our ups and downs, and a bit of variety seems to help smooth things over when we hit a rough spot.

Here are a few tricks to keep the winter produce blues at bay. Since my go-to veggie is steamed kale, I’m using that as the base for these suggestions, but substituting chard, mustard, broccoli, or other vegetables is wonderful too. And if you prefer a quick sauté in olive oil instead of steaming, that is just as easy and delicious.

Green kale

Eleven Minutes from Fridge to Plate

Rinse the leaves and strip them from the heavy stems (or slice the stems finely if you’d like to use them).

Chop the leaves very coarsely.

  • Put the chopped leaves in a pot with about one-half inch of water and cover it.
  • Steam until the kale turns bright green —only a few minutes. If you overcook kale, it loses that delightful sweetness and brilliant green color.

Braising mix is a blend of hardy winter greens that comes pre-chopped, and usually contains a hefty proportion of kale in several varieties.

Steamed Kale Variations

Please note that when I refer to oil or salt here I mean unrefined oil, like extra virgin olive, and unrefined sea salt. I’ve heard that eating healthy oils with high mineral foods like greens can help assimilate those vital micronutrients. Also, if you eat nuts with greens, you are adding good oils and some protein to the mix.

  • Keep it plain—yup, naked kale tastes pretty darn good to me.
  • Toss in olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. The rich taste of olive oil is so satisfying.
  • Add a splash of your favorite vinegar or citrus juice and oil. For example, balsamic, red wine, or rice vinegars and olive, walnut, or sesame oils, with a pinch of dried oregano, tarragon, basil, or finely minced fresh garlic.
  • Drizzle lightly with tamari soy sauce, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil, then topped with a bit of finely grated fresh ginger.
  • Generously douse with olive oil, and sprinkle with coarsely ground salt and toasted pumpkin seeds.
  • Add a spoon of sauerkraut with a light sprinkle of tamari soy sauce (careful, both are very salty), and a drizzle of olive oil—delicious, especially with nuts or seeds.

I hope this helps to keep your veggie intake up in the next few months as we’re waiting for the new spring greens to arrive on the scene. Here’s to simple, seasonal, satisfying, and wholesome food.

Date: Tuesday February 16, 2016

Category: Winter

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