Deep green and ruffled, kale leaves should be enjoyed now before the mild winter turns to spring. After years of being left off the menu, other than its familiar appearance as garnish, kale has become the darling of many foodies. Its nutritional value and versatility certainly warrant the spotlight.
A crop of the ancients, kale was a favorite of both the Romans and the Greeks. This leafy member of the cabbage family is one of the earliest vegetables cultivated by man. Unfortunately it fell out of favor in the last century, as more exotic vegetables like broccoli rabe and purple cauliflower became popular.
As a cold weather crop, kale can't be beat. This hardy plant even grows under snow and can be harvested as needed throughout the winter. One cup of this cooked nutritious vegetable provides a hero’s serving of vitamin C, calcium and potassium. Roasted, braised, sautéed, crisped or steamed, these emerald greens graciously submit themselves to a variety of cooking methods. I was pleasantly surprised when I was served roasted kale in a salad and so created this presentation using springtime strawberries to complement its winter personality. I encourage you to give kale a try and you will agree that it should not be reserved for garnish! Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia Pruett
Roasted kale and strawberry salad with citrus vinaigrette
1 bunch kale, rinsed and drained
1 large avocado, peeled
12 large strawberries
Candied walnut halves (see recipe below)
Orange peel for garnish
For the citrus vinaigrette:
Whisk together in a small bowl, two tablespoons orange juice, two tablespoons pomegranate juice, two tablespoons balsamic vinegar, one teaspoon honey and one teaspoon sea salt.
Continue whisking while adding six tablespoons extra virgin olive oil until thoroughly combined.
To roast kale: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the stems by folding each leaf in half and ripping the stem out all the way to the top. Spread the leaves out on a baking sheet. Spray or toss them lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Roast for about four minutes. Watch that edges do not burn. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt.
Toss roasted kale in a little of the citrus vinaigrette, then arrange on four salad plates. Add sliced avocado, strawberries, and candied walnut halves. Garnish with chopped orange peel and serve with extra dressing on the side.
Candied walnut halves
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups walnut halves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine pomegranate juice, orange juice, honey and butter in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over low to medium heat. Stir in walnuts and continue cooking for four minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread to make one layer. Place in preheated oven and toast for 10 minutes stirring halfway through. Watch carefully so they do not burn.
Claudia Pruett was raised in Saratoga. She is an entrepreneur, chef and community volunteer. She is married to Greg and they have three children. She enjoys cooking for friends and Bikram Yoga.