I like kale, kale-y, kale-y, kale.

KALE!

So, I’m a little behind on the Kale Train.  When green smoothies started taking over the planet a couple years back, people swore by it.  Kale, KALE!, they said. You put that leaf in your mouth, you’re gonna rule the world.  Even though it’s kin to the cauliflower, which I hate because all I can think of (when thinking of cauliflower) is the steamy smell of it floating through my house growing up.  It just smelled….bland.  If aging yellow had a smell, that’d be it – hot, bland, and not nice.  These days I eat many MANY types of fruits and veggies, but cauliflower is one I’m putting my foot down on.

I always enjoy trying new recipes to keep up my motivation for healthy eating.  The more delicious stuff is, the more likely I am to eat it until I get burned out.  During our yearly bout of hot, where summer extends its reach into October and everyone forgets why they moved here, I tend to eat lots of salad-style items and things that require minimal cooking.  My go-to recipe was one I discovered while visiting a friend over Memorial Day weekend, and has now been adjusted to my own personal preference.  I emailed it over to a friend, so here’s Recipe #1:

“My current favorite recipe is quick, easy, summery, delicious, healthy, and totally vegan if that last bit is important at all.  It’s also kind of addictive.

Summer Quinoa Salad [you can make a giant batch ahead of time]
Ingredients:
quinoa
heirloom tomatoes
cherry tomatoes (or whatever those little baby red and orange ones are)
black olives NO PITS
limes (minimum 2)
garlic powder
celery salt
black pepper
sweet onion

1) Make a bunch of quinoa.
…a] 2 cups water + 1 cup quinoa is a decent size serving for one meal
…b] combine the water and quinoa in a regular pot, bring to a boil
…c] when it starts to boil (usually about 7 minutes) bring the heat down super low and cover the pot

…d] another six minutes or so and the quinoa will start to turn translucent and you’ll see the spirals come out. it’s done then.
…e] at this point the water will have mostly boiled off. stir it all up, drain any remaining water

2) Combine the quinoa into a big mixing bowl with a few dashes of black pepper, garlic powder, and celery salt.  Stir it all up.
3) Cover the mix and pop it into the fridge overnight.

THE NEXT DAY…
the quinoa should be nice and cold, and have a mild seasoning flavor.
4) Prep the heirloom tomatoes

…a] chop them up into medium-sized chunks, a fist-sized tomato should give you two handfuls when you’re done. don’t dice it.

5) Prep the olives
…a] the canned black olives work just fine; chop into chunks.

7) Prep the sweet onion
…a] dice the crap out of it
…b] you can substitute using those pre-minced onion in the seasoning bottles if needed

8) Limes!
…a] 2 limes for every 1 cup of quinoa you’ve used.  Squeeze the limes into the quinoa, stir.  Taste test. The flavor should be cold and bright, not overpowering.

9) All the other stuff!
…a] dump in your tomato chunks / tomatoes / black olives
…b] maybe add some mozzarella if you’re feeling the cheese need
…c] stir it all up

10) OM NOM NOM

 

So, there’s that.  I’ve also recently been buying bundles of kale but have been scared to try it, thinking it would be bitter and terrifying and taste of dirt.  You guys, color me effing WRONG, because it’s fantastic!  I even am okay with it raw, although there is a more defined bitter taste then.  However if you chop it up finely enough and blend it with enough other stuff, you’ll be fine.

That said, I’d like to tell you YOU CAN MAKE KALE TASTE LIKE POTATO CHIPS.

What’s this wizardry, you ask?

Well, I found this recipe (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/06/panfried-kale/) which looked simple enough, and decided today was the day kale was going in my mouth.

I have a gas stove, so this was over fire on top, I didn’t try baking it (although that’s apparently great as well).   From my Facebook post:

  • I broke up a bunch of kale, drizzled olive oil over it, tossed in a handful of garlic powder, and covered it for about three-ish minutes, or however long it took to turn bright green. Then you flip it around a bunch, and during this time I also cut up a bunch of tomatoes and mozzarella for a little side dish thing. By then the kale was starting to saute nicely and had some crispy brown edges going, so I figured it was done at that point.

That. Was. Delicious.  The crispy brown parts tasted like pop chips. Oh my goodness gracious.  And now I understand the love of Baked Kale in replacing potato chips, and when the heat breaks I’ll be doing that.

Now, tonight’s kale did not come out awesomely. I had a bunch of reddish kale, added a healthy splash of veggie oil over it, then started chopping tomatoes and avocados while the kale was covered and sauteing in the oil.  Squeezed 1 whole lemon and 2 limons, added a spoonful of butter to the juice, and warmed it up in a skillet until the butter had melted.  At this point the kale had wilted up nicely, so I dumped all the juice in and stirred it all around for a minute or so.  All done – add it to a bowl with your tomatoes and avocados.

Ladies and gentlemen, do NOT use that much juice unless you are a fan of biting into a full lemon.  Argh!  I was able to eat about half of my bowl of kale, but the lemon juice taste was really putting me off.  Overkill.  That said, now I know better.

I made that little concoction after seeing this:  Babble.com’s recipe for a summer salad of wilted kale and tomato.

Photo courtesy of babble.com

For a moment I thought I spied some asparagus in there, which – when done properly with just the right seasoning of black pepper – would probably launch this bad boy into the most delicious realms of outer space.

So, test it out, have yourself some healthy, easy, quick meals, and thank me later.  And if you’re still scared of kale – don’t be!! If you like eating spinach / romaine / salad mix / lettuce / etc, this will give you that great feeling with good texture.  And apparently energy, which is a nice little bonus I’m feeling about twenty minutes after eating half a bowl.

Yum!