In which I eat kale

brontosaurus

Mm, kale.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family. My friends sing its praises. But I’m not riding that kale bandwagon.

Some varieties can reach a height of six or seven feet; others are compact and symmetrical and of good quality for eating. Many, however, are coarse, possess an undesirable coloring, and are unappealing and indigestible.

And…

During World War II, the cultivation of kale in the U.K. was encouraged by the Dig for Victory campaign. The vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet because of rationing.

If you don’t eat your kale, you can’t have any pudding.

Kale has the center rib you must remove and, when served raw, it’s so thick and cabbagey-leafy-vegetably chewily flavorful it tastes a little too much (to me) like something an herbivore with big grinding molars and extra stomachs would eat.

I prefer it cooked in Provincetown Kale Soup with linguica sausage.

There’s even a kale named “dinosaur.”

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But… baby kale is a revelation.

It’s tender and nice and more like lettuce or spinach or young garden greens and therefore accessible to those of us who are not (yet?) mega hardcore greens eaters. And, bingo, it’s just as good for you.

This is the first time I have eaten pre-adult kale.

March 27: Baby Kale Salad with Roasted Cipollini Onions and Lemon-Dijon Dressing

Because it’s almost Easter, there are lots of little onions – pearl, for example – for sale at the grocery stores. I saw these while buying kale and remembered I liked them.

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Cipollini onions are the sweetest and most awesome onions I have ever tasted.

The Kitchn captures it…

We’ve been seeing more and more of these little guys recently and we couldn’t be happier. Cipollini onions (pronounced chip-oh-lee-knee) were once a rare treat only to be found at fancy restaurants and the occasional gourmet market. We’re glad they’re finally getting their due attention…Now what exactly are they?

Their name literally means “little onion” in Italian, and indeed they are! Cipollinis are about the size of a golf ball with a slightly flattened appearance. They’re thin-skinned and have translucent white flesh with more residual sugar than your average yellow or white onion.

Which makes them incredible for roasting or caramelizing. Roasted whole in the oven or cooked in a little butter on the stove top, cipollinis become soft and practically melt in your mouth. Those residual sugars caramelize and concentrate, leaving behind none of the astringent raw onion flavor.

Peel the thin outer layer (best to boil for one minute to make that skin easier to remove), toss them with a little olive oil and sea salt, roast in a 400˚ oven for about 25 minutes, turning a few times for even browning, until they are soft and caramelized to perfect roasty sweetness.

Here is a decent recipe, with beautiful photos. My onions didn’t need as long to cook as their recipe called for. White On Rice blog: Roasted Cipollini Onions.

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Vinaigrette was 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, and some pepper. After tasting, I added a half teaspoon or so of honey to sweeten it just a little.

I did what I do a lot – Google the ingredients I think I want to use and glance through three or four recipes to get the gist of it.

Lemons are such a kitchen staple, considering they don’t grow anywhere near most kitchens. If I ever live someplace warm again, I will have a lemon tree in my backyard or in a pot on the porch.

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I sprinkled some parmesan cheese and some Maldon sea salt (of course) on my kale and caramelized onion salad. Then I took it outside and sat in a plastic chair in 50˚ sunshine and ate it while watching the chickens scratch around in the muddy woods.

Lunch moment. Relaxed contentment, surprising deliciousness. A taking in.

 It’s good to be just plain happy, it’s a little better to know that you’re happy; but to understand that you’re happy and to know why and how and still be happy, be happy in the being and the knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss. – Henry Miller