Gardening at School + A Kale Feast

A couple months ago, I shared my adventures nature journaling at school with my daughter's class (4th-6th grades). We also did a bit of gardening in the fall. They have four garden beds in their classroom's yard; we filled them with starts of lettuce, spinach, kale, a mix of herbs, green onions, tomatoes, and peppers. We also planted seeds for beans, radishes, and some edible flowers.
Soon after planting, visiting rabbits nibbled away most of our tender green starts. But a few things survived... and thrived under the care of these young gardeners. To my pleasure, kale was one of them, along with parsley, mint, arugula, and green onions. 
On Tuesday, we had a harvest party and feast. Two large bowls of kale were collected from the garden, as well as a hearty amount of fresh mint. The kids were super excited to see the abundant return on their efforts over the past months.
Working between their classroom kitchen and back porch, they split into groups and washed, tore, "ribboned," and massaged the kale. They crushed the mint and added it to lemonade. We made a kale salad for 30, dressed with fresh squeezed orange juice & extra virgin olive oil, and topped with roasted sunflower seeds. We also made three trays of kale chips, coated with olive oil and liberally dusted with sea salt.
It was a kale feast, washed down with minty lemonade. I was so very impressed with these kids - they have skills in the kitchen! And almost all of them (my gal not included) scarfed down the kale. Every last bite. Next up from the upper-class kitchen - green onion & mushroom quiche and frittata. And a tabouleh salad. I do believe some spring planting is on the docket too!
xoxo - Liz

Our Garden-Harvest Kale Salad
2 large bunches of kale (we grew lacinato, aka Tuscan, black, or dinosaur kale)  
Juice of 2 medium oranges
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  1. Remove kale leaves from stem. (Hold leaf upside down; grasping top of stem in one hand, pull downwards on the leaf with other your hand, stripping the leaf from the stem).
  2. Stack 5-6 leaves at a time and roll them up longways. Slice the "roll" into 1/4-inch-thick ribbons. Repeat with all the kale. Place kale ribbons in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk together fresh squeezed orange juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the kale.
  4. Massage the dressed kale with your hands, working to break down the fiber in the leaves, and rendering it more tender. Massage for 2-5 minutes, until the kale looks wilted and feels tenderized.
  5. Sprinkle sunflower seeds over the salad and toss to combine. Add additional salt & pepper to taste. Enjoy! 

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