By Isaac Delamatre, Food Service Coordinator
It is definitely kale season here in southwest Ohio. Kale (Brassica oleracea) is a star member of the species group that contains such beloved vegetables as broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage. It is a leafy, potently nutritious, hardy green that can withstand the biting frosts of an Ohio winter. Because of these virtues, it is a choice winter season crop for many of the farmers in our region, thus making it especially abundant in December.
During these times of seasonal plenty and in cases when there is simple no other option, it is the duty of cooks to devise new and interesting ways to utilize this sometimes relentless bounty. We must do this to prevent our audience from turning on us in a fit of culinary boredom, but also because as chefs it is fun for us to stretch our creative muscles. After all, there is only so much steamed kale one can serve before it simply will not move off the bar.
This dish is an adaptation of the old Mediterranean stand-by that features bulgur wheat and parsley. I have substituted the parsley with fresh local kale, though you could use any combination of various ingredients and it would still be a fantastic and refreshing dish.
The bulgur has been substituted with the Andean high protein “super grain” quinoa. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is native to the highlands of Peru and, interestingly, 2013 has been declared the “International Year of the Quinoa” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. If you don’t get around to making this preparation this year, make a point to next year. This grain, once held sacred by the great Incan empire and referred to as “mother of all grains,” was banned by the Christian Spanish invaders and lost favor for some time under oppressive rule of the western power. Luckily it now enjoys high praises in health circles and developing nations around the globe. It is nutty in flavor and has the pillowy consistency of couscous—fantastic compliment to sweet frost-kissed kale.
Being that quinoa is a gluten-free grain (a seed, technically) this recipe is suitable for those who are gluten intolerant. It is also vegan.
(Yields about 4 cups or so, or about 4–6 portions.)
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 cups finely chopped fresh kale
- 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp. chopped mint
- 4 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup chopped tomato
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl. It is best if made the day before you intend to serve it. The flavor really develops after a night in the refrigerator.