Summer Kale Part 3 and Citrus Kale Salad

Lacinato_top

Three months ago I decided to do a short series of posts about summer kale. The thought was that while people are becoming okay with kale in the winter, it still gets overlooked in the summer. That’s a shame. Kale is one of very few veggies that can be grown all year long. It’s always in season. My plan was to argue the case for summertime kale. This is the third and final post in that series.

We grow three varieties of kale on our tiny farm; Curly, Red Russian and Lacinato. In many ways, they’re all quite similar, sharing a basic, earthy kale-ishness. At the same time, they’re unique and distinct enough to more than justify our offering all three varieties. Here’s a quick rundown of how they differ and how we use them:

kale_three_times

Curly kale is the old standby. It’s the most common variety, the one that is used in most restaurant kale dishes (because it’s the easiest to prep) and the one most likely to be used as a garnish in a deli case or on a crappy catering tray. I posted a favorite Curly kaleĀ recipeĀ  here. I love Curly kale for it’s frills and use it whenever a kale recipe calls for a sauce or a dressing. The frills (see the picture above) trap the sauce and thus carry a lot of flavor. Curly kale has a medium-thick body and it’s my second favorite choice for making kale chips. When using Curly kale for chips one must be a bit more careful as it doesn’t lay flat and the tips tend to scorch.

Lacinato_macro

Red Russian kale is the rarest of the bunch. I’ve never seen it at a grocery and it’s an unusual find at a farmers’ market. That being said, it’s my first choice for kale chips. My post is here. It has the fullest body of the kales, making for a nice, thick, crunchy chip. It also lays flat when baking and thus cooks uniformly. Red Russian kale is also a good choice for hearty, rustic soups.

The third kale we grow is Lacinato (aka: Tuscan kale, Dinosaur kale or Cavolo). It is the kale of choice among people who love kale. Lacinato has the thinnest body of the three kales, allowing it to be eaten with only a light steam or saute. It’s even great shredded raw. Lacinato is the kale I eat most often. It’s good in soup. It’s good in a salad or sauteed, Mediterranean style, with oregano and lemon. I don’t recommend Lacinato for kale chips though. It’s body is too fine. The chips turn to crumbs with a breath.

Lacinato_salad

Lacinato and Citrus Salad with Peppered Polenta

A citrus wilted salad that higlights Lacinato kale’s versatility

ingredients

  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale, stems removed, cut into bite sized strips
  • 1 medium red onion, julianne
  • 1 orange
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup cornmeal (polenta)
  • Sea salt
  • Coarse ground black pepper

method

First, cook the polenta.

Add 4 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt to an oversized pan and bring to a violent boil. Stir in the polenta and reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring near constantly. Season with salt and coarse pepper. Transfer polenta to a lined bake pan and refrigerate for an hour until set.

At least thirty minutes before serving, assemble the salad.

Supreme and retain the citrus (using a knife, peel and remove the segments, leaving the membrane). Squeeze the juice from the remaining membranes into a mixing bowl, lightly salt, add the onion and kale. Stir and massage the salad for a few minutes to start softening the kale. Refrigerate until service. Just before serving, correct seasoning on the kale, add supremed citrus and cubed polenta.

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