Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit…

…the more you eat, the more you toot.  The more you toot, the better you feel, so eat some beans at every meal!

Okay, my mom used to hate that little ditty.  So much that dad use to forbid us saying it in the house when she was around.  But when she wasn’t around, HA-HA, dad was as much a little kid as we were. Giggling and laughing about our song and intestinal rumblings.

That was a long time ago.  The ’60s…yeah, back when the T-Rex was the baddest dude in town, dinosaurs ruled…that long ago.

Today there is another “magical fruit”…or veggie…I always get them confused.  (Seeds?  No seeds?)  And we have been eating it quite a bit lately.  It seems to be catching on and being served more often in restaurants,  featured in magazines, and now it is even “pre-bagged” in the grocery stores like lettuce and spinach.  Nope it isn’t brussels sprouts or beets.  Those are so “last year”…but so good.

Kale.

Yep, kale.  The green rubbery looking leafy thing that is often used as a garnish.  It looks more ornamental than delectable.  Sometimes looking like it was slightly dusted with talcum powder.  For years you would see it in the produce section.  Lonely.  Just sitting there quietly next to the Swiss Chard and perhaps the Leeks or Rutabegas…waiting for someone to pick it up.  News flash…the wait is over!

I went to the grocery store the other day to get some and…gone!?!?  No kale?!?! Is this a First? Almost unimaginable that there would be a run on kale in the produce section.

I guess I am not really surprised.  Like I said, lately it has been popping up all over…and it is good.  Soups.  Pastas. Sautéed.  Braised.  Salads.  It has a lot of great versatility from a culinary perspective and you can add it to many dishes and create an abundance of flavors with it.  Plus… the health benefits are amazing.  It can reduce the risk of  colon and prostrate  cancer…Lower cholesterol…Antioxidents with Vitamins A, C and K…assists in normal blood clotting…and a great source for some of the B-complex vitamins and Iron.

So Popeye, take your spinach and move over.  There is a new legume in town and it is suddenly hip to eat it in several different fashions.  Here is one of our favorites, courtesy of the Food Network and the Neely’s.  This one is easy and delicious.  ( I have substituted a can of Cannelini beans for the Lentils and it is still a favorite)  A great dinner surprise!

Lentil and Kale Salad

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale, stemmed and sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon honey                                                                                                                                                                                     1 teaspoon Dijon mustard                                                                                                                                                                             1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil                                                                                                                                                      Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper                                                                                                                                          2 cups cooked French lentils                                                                                                                                                                           1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese                                                                                                                                                                           1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
Add the kale and shallots to a large bowl and set aside.

Whisk together the vinegar, honey and mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the kale and shallots and toss and stir roughly with tongs, about 3 minutes. You want to gently bruise the leaves of the kale. Once the kale looks soft, toss in the lentils, feta cheese and cranberries. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate 1 hour before serving.

Be sure to toss and marinate…it really brings out the flavors.

 

“Caesar” Kale Salad

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CROUTONS:
8 oz. day-old sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes and crust removed
½ Tbsp. half-cracked black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Pinch salt

FOR THE DRESSING:
1 sheet kombu seaweed*, rinsed with cold water for 30 seconds and then roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
Juice of half a lemon
¾ cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

FOR THE GREENS:
1 head romaine lettuce, leaves torn
1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
Shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish

PREPARATION

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• First, make the croutons: In a large bowl, combine the sourdough cubes, half-cracked peppercorns, olive oil and salt, making sure all of the bread is evenly coated. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned, turning halfway through cooking. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
• Meanwhile, make the dressing: Place the seaweed, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire, lemon juice, mayonnaise and 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan in a blender. Blend until the seaweed pieces are finely chopped.
• Remove the bowl from the blender base and place it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
• In a large bowl, combine the romaine and kale.
• Just before serving, add the dressing to taste, season with salt and pepper, and gently toss. Top with Parmesan shavings and black-pepper croutons.

So go ahead and be adventurous.  Try some Kale and perhaps one of these recipes…or in soup, in pasta, braised with apples in chicken stock or simply just sautéed with a little lemon juice and parmesan cheese.

It’s the new magical fruit…without as much Toot!

 

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