I’ve developed a bit of a love affair with kale in the recent past.
Back in the day, I never ate a green leafy unless it was iceberg lettuce, which really is neither particularly green nor particularly leafy. I started branching out and eating leaf lettuce and baby spinach in college (that’s what a liberal arts education will do to a person). When my husband and I were living in the South, I started experimenting with collards. Large hunks of pork and hours of cooking were the secret to getting me to try this Southern delicacy. The Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook brought us healthier collards recipes, like their Spanish Bean Soup and Caribbean Beans and Greens Wrap. Soon after, Vegetarian Times got us eating broccoli raab (also called rapini) in a recipe that had a sauce of pureed white beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and rosemary. There might also have been pecorino romano cheese in there. In California, we joined a CSA, which introduced us to a whole other world of green veggies, most of which we turned into frittatas for the first year we bought a share. After that first year, we expanded our repertoire to include gratins. Both of these fell by the wayside when I stopped eating dairy. My love of greens went dormant.
Then a couple of years ago, through the magic of Facebook and my friend Abigail, I discovered Green Smoothies (OK, I didn’t discover them any more than Columbus discovered the New World. But they were revealed to me and it was like a discovery. Or perhaps more like a revelation). I tried them first with just a little bit of “safe” greens, like chard. Not bad, but they didn’t really float my boat. Then fate stepped in and broke my blender, giving me an excuse to buy a super-powered Vita-Mix. Once I experienced the silky-smooth green smoothies that machine could churn up, I was hooked. Well, that’s not entirely true, but I did become somewhat obsessed with finding a green smoothie combination that I loved. I tried apples, berries, bananas, oranges. Chard, kale, spinach. Cashew milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, rice milk. Rice protein, hemp protein, flax seed powder. But I always ended up going back to my stand-by non-green smoothie. Until Renee’s birthday.
Renee, for her birthday, hosted a green smoothie event. And she did something I hadn’t tried. She used orange juice as the liquid base for her smoothies. After I sipped that smoothie, the whole world took on a green tint. Then I was hooked. Back at home, I started making green smoothies again, adding more and more greens (even scary ones, like dandelion greens), trying new recipes, and even not adding any liquid at all!
Then came Self-Care month and my resolution to eat veggies at every meal. In the beginning, I went with the easy stuff. Green smoothie for breakfast, frozen green beans or a green salad for lunch, corn on the cob for dinner. But soon I craved more greens. I started sauteing, boiling, and braising them for dinner. I’d toss them into spaghetti sauce and lentil soup. I even found a smothered pork chops variation that called for collard greens. But, except for the pork chops and a kale and blackeye peas recipe that called for bacon and its grease, I didn’t find a cooked greens recipe that really tasted, well, tasty. I contented myself with baking kale chips and snacking on those a couple of times a week.
This past weekend, I was going through my new favorite cookbook, Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. I was writing down the recipes we’d tried and loved along with several we hadn’t tried but I thought we might love. Perusing the “Got Color?” section, I saw a recipe I hadn’t noticed before. Sweet Apple Walnut Kale. I put it on the meal list. We had everything we needed to make it. So we made it.
It was quick. It was easy. And it was delicious!*
Sitting at the dinner table, talking with my mouth full, I declared, “I will blog about this recipe!”
And here I am, sharing it with you.