In the "currently edible" department, my garden supports a number of green leafy items (perpetual spinach, kale, parsley, and silverbeet). I've got broad bean plants, spinach and garlic growing, parsnip germinating, and have just sown beetroot, along with new crops of kale, parsley and perpetual spinach. My "currently edible" kale, parsley and perpetual spinach are all starting to go to seed, but have lots of lovely new spring growth. Unlike winter, when i harvest with care, so as not to deplete the plants too much and run out of fresh harvest-able greens, now i can pick with gay abandon, knowing that if it is not eaten soon, it will become inedible for all but the sheep and hens. I really like this time of year, as everything is growing happily, broad bean and asparagus season is drawing ever closer, and i can eat as many leafy greens as i like.
Not only do i enjoy eating kale, but it makes me feel virtuous, particularly at the moment, having been reading one of Dr Libby Weaver's books, which extols the virtues of this leafy green. Kale is packed with vitamins and minerals (C, K & B-group vitamins, plus calcium, magnesium and iron) as well as the cancer-fighting sulphoraphane and carotenoids.
The following is one of my 'go to' kale recipes. It is really simple, tasty and nutritious. If you happen to have cooked brown rice on hand, and some za'atar ready to go it is also a super speedy meal; if, like me, you need to make your za'atar and cook your rice it will take a bit longer. When i made this last night, i used red rice, but usually i go for brown rice as the recipe suggests.
In case you have not come across za'atar before, i have included a recipe below. It is a middle-eastern spice blend recipe that goes back to medieval times and packs a real flavour punch. Kale Rice Bowl would risk being a little boring if it weren't for the za'atar. As with many recipes that have been around for a long time there are many variations, and you can play around with the proportions of each ingredient. My recipe contains thyme and oregano; i have seen versions that include marjoram as well, and a version that uses only thyme, so you've got a bit of leeway. I never include marjoram, as i have had no luck growing it, and i avoid buying dried herbs because they always seem so pathetic compared to the fresh option. If you don't have easy access to fresh herbs, you might want to just try a pre-packaged blend from a Mediterranean store.
KALE RICE BOWL
Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks
big bunch of kale, the more the merrier, de-stemmed and finely chopped
approx 3 cups of cooked brown rice
- lemon zest
- capers, rinsed, dried and pan-fried in butter until blistered
- a poached egg
- a dollop of lightly salted greek yoghurt
- lots of za'atar
- toasted sesame seeds
In a large skillet heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the kale and saute until the kale softens a bit and brightens, just a minute or two. Stir in the rice, and cook until the rice is hot. If your rice is on the dry side, you might need to add a splash of water.
Serve the kale rice with as many of the toppings as you can muster, but try and have at least one of the yoghurt or soft-poached egg, as these items add a lovely creaminess to the dish, and the za'atar for lovely flavour.
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stems
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, stripped from stems
1 tablespoon ground sumac
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Place thyme and oregano leaves on a baking sheet in a 150 degree Celcius oven until just dry - ten minutes or less. Just enough that they will crumble between pinched fingers. allow to cool. While they are drying, grind the sesame seeds and sea salt together in a mortar and pestle, then set aside in a bowl.
Grind the cooled, dried herbs in the mortar and pestle, then add the sumac and sesame seed/salt mix and stir well. Taste and adjust to your liking.
This mixture stores well in an airtight container in the freezer (or other cool dark place).