I learned a good lesson this week. If you don’t want to eat a ton of kale, be careful how much you plant. Little ol’ six pack of kale starts? Yeah, that grows a TON of kale. I like kale and all, but the quantity exceeds my typical rate of kale consumption. And unfortunately I do not have a husband who is willing to help me out (he made it clear that kale was not his thing the minute that six pack hit my shopping cart at Molbacks). And my son, well, it’s hard for him to chew leaves. He has a valid excuse. So it’s all me, and for that reason I’ve been digging up various ways to use kale, perhaps in places where it can be slightly hidden in hopes hubby or 2 year old will accidentally consume it. Hmmm.

That’s when I remembered the oh-so-wonderful Emerald City Salad at PCC. It’s a fantastic blend of diced vegetables, wild rice, seasoned dressing, and KALE! Perfect for potlucks, barbecues, or a side for a simple dinner at home. A trusty Google search found me some copy-cat recipes in less than a minute and I shall now share said recipe with you. I found this one on Gluten Free Girl’s website (who reported she got it from Cynthia Lair’s book, Feeding the Whole Family, one of my personal favorites), so yes, it is also a great recipe if you have food allergies as it’s corn, soy, dairy and gluten-free.

I should mention real quick that there are several varieties of kale. I grew Dinosaur Kale, or the more proper name, Lacinato or Tuscan Kale. It’s more of a flat leaf as opposed to the curly and more bunchy varieties. It’s also a really deep lovely green color. Dino kale does not lend itself well, as I found out myself, to making kale chips. I’ve heard so many people rave about kale chips that I thought I’d put my mountains of kale to good use in such fashion, however because it is so flat it doesn’t dry out very well slathered in oil on a baking sheet. Bummer. But I will attest, kale chips are GOOD. Google yourself a recipe and give it a try. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Your friends and family will be begging for more.

Now, I wouldn’t be a good Dietitian if I didn’t talk a little bit about kale’s nutritional properties in an effort to increase your consumption of this nutrient powerhouse. First, as anyone taking Coumadin could probably tell you, kale is loaded with Vitamin K (hence you need to be careful if taking blood thinners). It also has load of Vitamin A and Vitamin C and a healthy amount of calcium (yes, calcium!), potassium, folate, iron and B vitamins. Kale also has magical cholesterol-lowering capabilities (binds bile acids; better at this in cooked form), has been noted as lowering the risk for many types of cancers, and supports the body’s natural detox systems. Furthermore, researchers have found over 45 different flavonoids in kale which act as potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. I think kale is also working on world peace. Seriously, what doesn’t it do?

So yes, kale. I have a lot it, but that’s a good thing as you can see. And now back to my featured recipe. It’s pretty easy to prep and throw together, but if you’d like to sit back and watch someone else make it, check out CookusInterruptus.com and let Cynthia Lair do the work for you before you try your own. You might even get a little chuckle out it, certain to put you in a salad-making mood. A cold beer would help with that too.

Emerald City Salad

For the rice:
2 1/4 cups water or stock
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup wild rice

For the dressing:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Vegetables:
1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb, core removed
1/2 of a red or yellow pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped red cabbage
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 cups finely chopped kale

Salt and pepper
Crumbled goat cheese, optional

1. Bring the water or stock to a boil. Add the butter, salt and rice. Bring back to a boil, cover and turn down the heat and simmer for ~60 minutes (until all water absorbed).

2. Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk or shake well. Set aside.

3. Combine all the chopped vegetables and the dressing in a bowl, with the kale on top. When the rice is done and still warm but not steaming, spread the rice over the top of the kale and let sit until cool. Then, mix together everything together and season as necessary (you may want to add a little more lemon juice as well). Sprinkle cheese on top if desired.

About Danielle VenHuizen

Registered Dietitian, Certified LEAP Therapist