Frost-Nipped Kale and Cabbage
After our usual Northwestern mix of freezing and milder days, with heavy rains and wild winds, it is delightful to find much of my kale and cabbage still edible. In fact, a touch of frost leaves the cole family sweeter and crisper than ever, just like leeks.
Most of my daily salads involve kale as well as spinach and some kind of cabbage. At this time of year, I steam the tougher stems and stem-end foliage or use them in stir-fries, saving the more tender leaf tips for eating raw.
Our winter salads are beautified and enriched with a variety of kales, from bold red Russian and rippled black Tuscan to frilly Scotch and blue-green Winterbor. Although they can get a little tough over time, all are equally delicious when shredded or sliced into ribbons and quickly cooked with a little olive oil and garlic. A touch of sea salt and a drizzle of fresh lemon or lime juice makes them utterly scrumptious (sometimes that’s all I need for dinner!).
Make Room For Choys and Jois
It’s still too early to plant, but I’m prepping my beds so spring will find them ready to fill. I’ll probably start with some of the Asian choys, fast-growing cool weather crops that taste sweetest in fall and early winter. Bok choy and joi choy are especially strong performers in early spring and from late summer into fall.
Like cabbage, Asian choys must be harvested as a whole plant. Compost the tough outer leaves and use the tender inner ones raw or lightly cooked. Shred the sweet-hot leaves of Asian choys into salads, stir-fries, and soups, and add shredded Napa cabbage or bok choy to fish tacos and tuna salads.
Not sure what to do with kale? Toss torn up bits of young kale with salads, shred it on sandwiches, or sliver it into soup for a crunchy garnish. Mix finely shredded kale with crinkled Savoy cabbage, tangerine sections, and pomegranate seeds for a sparkling winter salad.
Eating The Rainbow
Nutritionists remind us to eat food of every color daily, so here are some delicious ways to do jut that. Colorful and healthy, Winter Rainbow Salad offers delightful contrasts of flavor and texture, from crunchy cabbage to juicy tangerines, while savory pumpkin seeds add extra protein (with very few carbs, if you care).
Winter Rainbow Salad With Orange Dressing
2 cups Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
2 cups Winterbore or blue kale, finely shredded
2 cups young spinach
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
2 tangerines, peeled and sectioned
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup Fresh Orange Dressing (see below)
In a bowl, combine all ingredients and gently toss. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.
Fresh Orange Dressing
1/3 cup canola or rice oil
2 tablespoons plain rice vinegar
1 organic orange, juiced, rind grated
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
2-3 drops chipotle Tabasco sauce
Combine all ingredients in a jar, starting with smaller amounts where indicated. Close tightly, shake well to emulsify, adjust seasoning to taste. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. Makes about 1 cup.