blog submitted by Nadine Naujoks
This time of year our southern winter vegetable garden is still yielding delicious kale. As the temperature drops in the evening, the moisture in the leaves travels down into the roots, leaving the leaves looking desiccated and, well, dead. Yet when the sun begins to warm the day the juices flow back up into the leaves reviving them.
Hailed as a super food and prized since Roman times kale is part of the cabbage family. In addition to vitamins and minerals, the nutrient dense dark green leaves boast 3 grams of protein in each cup of raw kale making it a favorite for vegans and vegetarians. Commonly cooked in most any dish as a substitute for spinach, kale is also nice raw when massaged.
A common weed, often the bane of the farmers’ garden is welcome in ours – Chickweed. Chickweed stays remarkably viable throughout the winter and is a free cover crop. It forms a dense winter cover and is habitat for beneficial early spring insects. Tilled under in the spring, chickweed improves the tilth of the soil and adds a healthy dose of nitrogen
Also chock full of nutrients and medicinal benefits, chickweed is known for easing rheumatism and other inflammation-based maladies and skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and rashes. Best used fresh, chickweed can be administered as a tea or poultice for medicinal purposes, yet we like to eat it. Fresh chickweed has a pleasant mild flavor often finding its way into our winter salads.
Massaged Kale and Chickweed Salad
A simple salad, high in nutrition.
A small peach basket of fresh kale, about 8-10 cups
3 good handfuls of chickweed, washed and chopped – go ahead and use the stems; they are very tender.
Small can of mandarin oranges, strained
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews or pecans)
1/3 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms (optional)
1/4 cup feta cheese (optional)
¼ tsp salt
S&P to taste
Remove thick stems from the kale leaves, wash and dry in the salad spinner in batches. I love my salad spinner; it makes washing salad greens so easy, but if you don't have one, just wash and drain the leaves as you would for any salad.
Chiffonade the kale leaves (roll them up and thinly slice them on an angle) and place them in a large non-metal bowl with the ¼ tsp of salt.
Massage the salt into the leaves by hand to tenderize the greens in much the same manner as you would mix up a meatloaf. You’ll be surprised at how the greens reduce in volume!
Add the chickweed, red onion, mandarin oranges and nuts. Add Mushrooms and feta, if using.
Drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette and S&P to taste – enjoy!