When you make the decision to start incorporating more local and seasonal foods into your diet, it can initially be overwhelming because not many of us are used to working with the foods that are found in seasonal abundance. It forces us to get a bit more creative with our cooking.
So for example, with ramps being abundant right now I’ve made them into pesto, chopped them into salads, sauteed them as toppings, and yesterday I tried what I’ve gathered to be the “authentic” West Virginian way to eat ramps — with beans (and cornbread). And I still have a few more tricks up my sleeve before the ramps disappear! (Stay tuned…)
Another popular item at farmers’ markets in the Spring is kale. I suppose I had started to learn about kale before trying to be quite as much of a locavore as I am today, but it’s definitely not something that I grew up eating. And when you’re not used to eating greens like kale and collards, they can be intimidating. But greens like kale are good to incorporate because they’re so darn healthy!
I think I first started to actually like kale because of kale chips. I believe they’re relatively palatable even to the novice kale eater, and yet they start to break you in to kale’s bitter charms.
There are many types of kale chips to make, but I think it’s best to smother kale in a delicious tahini sauce.
TAHINI KALE CHIPS
- ~2 Bunches kale
- 1/4 cup tahini,
- 1/8 cup soy sauce (or Bragg’s liquid aminos)
- 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
- some sprigs of parsley and oregano (and I added some purple dead nettle that was also growing nearby my parsley and oregano…why not?)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1-2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
- dash of salt
- enough water to mix well…probably 1/8 cup
Break the kale into bite-sized pieces and place into a large bowl (take out any of the thick stems). Mix all of the other ingredients in a blender, and then pour the sauce over the chips and mix it in well. Lay the coated chips out on dehydrator sheets or oven sheets.
Dehydrate at 115* for about 4 hours or until really crispy (some recipes call for up to 8 hours — I did this last batch for 6). You can also use an oven at 200* for about an hour, but check it often. I’m sure that some people have mastered the oven version of kale chips, but I haven’t had luck with that.
I realize that not all of these ingredients are local, but I think this is a good place to start experimenting with kale. And you can try to get as many of these ingredients as locally sourced as possible.
However, I was also able to devise a more locally-sourced kale recipe this week…
FARRO WITH KALE, SHITAKE MUSHROOMS, AND CHEVRE
I found some star ingredients at the farmers’ market that I was inspired to combine into this dish.
- 2 cups warm, cooked farro (but I made a lot more than this — freeze some for later!) To cook farro: boil the grain in a 2:1 ratio of water (lightly salted) to farro. Simmer covered for 25 to 35 minutes. Drain any unabsorbed liquid.
- 1/2 cup carrots
- 1/2 cup onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- enough butter to saute
- 4-5 cups of kale
- 2-3 cups of shitake mushrooms
- 2 oz. chevre
- salt/pepper to taste
Start by sauteing the carrots, onions, and garlic in the butter until they’re soft and the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the kale and watch for it to wilt a bit and turn a darker color of green — this means it’s getting close to ready, and you can add the 2 cups of warm, cooked farro.
Mix all of this together and then add the chevre. Keep stirring this while the heat is low until the cheese is melted in and creamy. Local and delicious!
Linked up on the Homestead Barn Hop.
Also on ‘these light footsteps':