Vail Simply Seasonal column: Kale is a super-nutritious green
The hardy, leafy green we know as kale has gained recent popularity for its super-nutritious benefits. Widely available throughout the winter and early spring, the dark, leafy green is packed with antioxidant vitamins A, C and K. These nutrients are proven to lower cholesterol and prevent cancer.”For a veggie so healthy, kale has a mild flavor,” said Jeremy Kittelson, executive chef at Restaurant Avondale. “You can eat kale raw or cooked in a variety of ways, so make it a staple on your grocery list.” Chef Kittelson shares two recipes here, for a fresh salad and side dish, but said “You can get creative with kale as it complements lots of other ingredients. Combined with pasta, almonds and sundried tomatoes it makes a hearty vegetarian entre. You can add chopped kale to soups or stir-frys. Fried kale chips are a great snack. There’s no limit to how you can enjoy kale.”Love to garden? Kale is instant gratification. Plant it as soon as the ground starts to thaw and it comes up right away. There are many ornamental kale plants that will provide visual and textural appeal as well as being tasty edibles. In the milder climates of the southern U.S., kale grows all winter. Cool temperatures impart a sugar content that give the vegetable its mild flavor.Fresh kale salad with truffle vinaigrette1 pound fresh kale1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted1/2 cup dried cherries1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano2 sweet potatoesVegetable oil for deep frying1/4 cup truffle vinaigretteKosher salt and fresh black pepper to tasteWash the kale in cold water and dry. Remove the stems and cut the kale into 1/2 inch julienned strips. Using a mandolin and the medium julienne blade, cut the sweet potatoes into match stick sized pieces. In a deep pot, heat oil to 325-degrees and fry the sweet potatoes for about 1 minute or until they are crispy. Remove the sweet potatoes to a plate with paper towels to absorb any access oil. Combine the kale, dried cherries, pine nuts, fried sweet potatoes and the truffle vinaigrette. Toss the salad very gently and place on a platter. Garnish with shaved Parmigiano and serve immediately. Serves 4.Truffle vinaigrette2 lemons, juiced4 shallots, minced1/2 cup truffle oil1/4 cup olive oilsalt and pepper to tastePlace shallots and lemon juice in mixing bowl. Slowly start adding oils while whisking. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve excess dressing for another salad, keep refrigerated.Fried kale with lemon-caper vinaigrette1 pound fresh kale, leaves pulled from stems, washed and dried wellVegetable oil for deep fryingLemon-Caper VinaigretteSea SaltHalf fill a deep pot with vegetable oil and heat to 350. Making sure there is no water on the leaves, drop the kale leaves into the oil and step away as the oil can splatter. As soon as there are no more bubbles around the kale, remove it to a plate with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. The kale should be very crispy. Season with the fine sea salt and serve with the lemon-caper vinaigrette. Serves 4.Lemon caper vinaigrette2 pasteurized egg yolks1/2 cup fresh lemon juice4 Tablespoons Dijon mustard2 garlic cloves, minced1 shallot, minced1/2 cup white wine vinegar3 cups olive oil1 1/2 cup capers, choppedFresh tarragon, choppedPlace first six ingredients in a small blender; blend on high for 20 seconds. Lower speed and slowly drizzle in oil until emulsified. Pour into small bowl and fold in chopped capers (thin with water to adjust consistency if desired). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Right before serving, fold in fresh tarragon to taste. Refrigerate excess to use as a salad dressing. Add more fresh tarragon before each use.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur (larkspurvail.com), at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale (avondalerestaurant.com) opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa and features a West Coast-inspired, market-driven menu.
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