On Wednesday, you saw that we picked up a bunch of red Russian kale as part of our CSA share. We thought that it’s so easy to fall into the rut of just steaming every green in sight, so we sought out a new way to use the kale. We didn’t really look through any books to find ideas; instead, we went with the idea that kale is part of the Brassica genus, and, in fact, it’s the same species as cabbage (both are varieties of B. oleracea).
We’re guessing that most of you don’t really start your menu with a bit of botanical research, but, in this case, we thought about using the kale in the same way as we might use cabbage, and the idea for kale slaw was born.
We have two basic recipes for slaw that we really like, and we modified one, Light Cole Slaw, for this side dish.
For this recipe, the type of vinegar doesn’t really matter, so we just use plain white vinegar that we pick up in a gallon jug. You could use a wine vinegar, but we think the flavor would get washed out by the steeping of the pickling spice. That’s what really adds the flavor, so don’t omit that step. Now, we add celery seed and raisins to our slaw dishes because we think they add a nice touch. But, truly, they’re optional. The slaw will be good even if you omit either of them. Keep in mind that you don’t have to restrict your slaw to kale and cabbage; many cruciferous veggies will work here, too. Finally, we’re not sure as to the amount of pesticides used on kale; if you’re concerned, buy organic. We’re fortunate, because everything we get from the CSA is naturally grown without the use of pesticides.
Procedure in detail:
Infuse vinegar. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the vinegar to a boil, and add the pickling spice. Remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain to remove spices. We just use a small tea strainer with a fine mesh. You could also use a coffee filter in a funnel, but, whatever you use, make sure to remove those spices. No one wants to bite down on a piece of bay leaf in their slaw.
Add sugar. Stir the sugar into the vinegar until it dissolves. It might take a minute or two of stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved, but it’s worth this bit of extra effort, as it’ll prevent a clump of gritty sugar showing up in the dish.
Shred carrot and kale. When we don’t want to break out the grater — such as for a single carrot — we use a vegetable peeler and work all around the carrot, peeling off thin strips. Then we’ll pop them right on top of the de-stemmed kale leaves and go to town with a chef’s knife. In a few minutes, we have our kale and carrots chopped and mixed.
Mix. Place the carrot and kale shreds in a medium bowl, add the raisins, the celery seeds, and the vinegar mixture. Mix thoroughly. Give it a taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Let everything meld for 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve. Dish into bowls and enjoy.
Okay, it’s not Cole slaw. The kale has a much greener taste than cabbage, and it’s a bit tougher, too, but it’s close enough that, if you have your eyes closed, you’ll be pretty sure that you’re eating slaw made from cabbage. So, we think it’s a great way to use kale, and, with kale now considered a super-food (we always thought that it was pretty good), this is a good way to pack some of that nutrition into your body. Four stars.