Wednesday, 12 November 2014

All hail kale!


I'm having a bit of a love affair with kale at the moment. Those lovely thick, springy leaves offer so much in terms of health benefits, packed as they are with vitamins A, K and C, calcium, not to mention folic acid, magnesium and iron. And it's virtually fat free with a very low calorific content.

It's a powerhouse of a vegetable, it comes in many different forms, (curly, plain leaf, cavolo negro, purple, or spear) but the humble winter harvested brassica still has a bit of a bad rep. Despite all this good stuff it's too often associated with soggy, waterlogged leaves served in the deepest of winters, when everything else has given up the ghost. 

Such a shame, as it's just so versatile. Recently I've been using it raw in smoothies, or lightly blanched in salads but it can also be fried up all crispy with pork (think crispy seaweed), served with cream as a side dish, or added to dishes such as fish cakes, pies, risottos, curries, or omelettes. The irony tang goes exceptionally well with fish, bacon, goat's cheese, and pine nuts. 

This light salad is so quick and easy to prepare. I regularly roast a couple of chicken breasts to have with it or crisp up some pancetta to run through the salad. The dressing I use here is a very simple mix of shop bought mayonnaise, with a dash of white wine vinegar and sugar. It's also delicious with a homemade french vinaigrette or a caesar dressing. I'm a firm believer that there is a time and a place for hand made mayonnaise but a mid week, quick lunch is not one of them.

Cavolo negro, black bean and pine nut salad
  • 400g roughly shredded cavolo negro leaves
  • 150g black beans (ready to use not dry)
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 stick celery, finely diced
  • 1 inch or cucumber, finely sliced
For the dressing
  • 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped dill

  1. Blanch the shredded kale in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes (until it has an al dente bite), drain and immediately plunge into ice cold water to stop it from cooking further. Then drain and squeeze any excess water out of the leaves.
  2. In a clean jam jar add all your dressing ingredients, screw on the lid and mix well by shaking the jar.
  3. Mix all the salad ingredients in a large bowl with the dressing.



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