plant to plate: kale

kale 1
wheatberries and kale

seems like everyone and their mama is in to eating kale, brassica oleracea, these days. and with good reason. kale is a superstar of the green veggies, packed with vitamins, calcium, and carotenoids. (basically, some super tricky compounds that can block the growth of cancer cells.) in short: eat this stuff.

kale is also a fairly hearty plant to grow. there are perennial incredible varieties of "tree kale" that we grew while out on the west coast. they just get taller and taller, and as you harvest leaves they keep growing up. here where it is colder in the winters it's an annual plant, but no less awesome. you can plant it early enough so that it's sized up to full before the first frost date, and it won't die if it frosts. some people say it gets even sweeter. you can cover it up with a little reemay, which is just a blanket for plants, and tuck it in for several weeks.

you harvest kale by taking off the lower outer leaves first, slicing where the stem connects to the stalk. you work your way up the plant and it continues to produce new leaves at the top. miracle!

there are lots of lovely ways to eat kale: kale chips, kale soups, kale salads, kale blended in to juices or smoothies (haven't gotten there myself...) but i love this simple beautiful summer salad. hearty enough for a main course.

Summer Tomato & Kale Wheatberry Salad


big ole bowl of wheat berries, cooked (if for you that means 1 cup, great, if you want to cook 4 cups for your whole family, more power to you.)
2 cups kale, chopped
1 or 2 big heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup or so of cheese, chopped (i used some cheddar because we had it, super thinly sliced. you could do feta crumbled or anything delicious.)

either use your fave vinaigrette recipe, or this simple one:
1 part oil (i used olive)
1 part vinegar (i used balsamic-- nice with the tomatoes)
1/3 part acid (i used lime juice, but lemon or grapefruit would be great)
 pinch salt and pepper
splash maple syrup

Cook wheatberries. Great tutorial over here. Let them cool. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a cup. Wash, de-rib (that just means cut the big fatty stem out of the middle of the kale leaf) and chop up the kale into small pieces. Cut up your tomato into the size of pieces that you like to eat. Slice the cheese, or crumble if using feta. Stir the kale, tomatoes, and cheese chunks into the slightly warm wheat berries. Pour dressing over. Toss to coat. Let it sit-- this is great served warm, at room temp, or cool.