Garden to Kitchen: Winter Salads

Leafy greens are by far my best producing crop this fall. The rich, earthy taste of Lacinato kale - a deep blue-green beauty - is finding it's way into my kitchen almost daily via smoothies, salads, and soups. Even my youngest loves fresh kale, sliced into ribbons and massaged with sea salt. Collards are topping the list too, added to chicken and dumplings, or cooked in the traditional southern manner and served with cornbread.
Lettuce in four varieties color the "salad bed." Red Romaine blazes a deep burgundy hue with hardy, tall leaves. Juicy, tender Cimmaron lettuce is almost purple, with a light wash of green.
Heads of creamy Big Boston and Blonde Du Cazard spread low and wide, like delicate flowers, in shades of a soft green and the occasional hint of red. AS you might guess, homegrown salads are being enjoyed in abundance this season!
Today is the Thanksgiving potluck for my daughter's preschool class and we're bringing... you guessed it: salad! I made a "deconstructed" salad on a fun plate in hopes of getting the little ones interested. Sage and I harvested all the greens from our garden, then added some heirloom cherry tomatoes and chopped carrots on the side. We also made a big batch of homemade croutons to accompany, and some ranch dressing from a mix I garnered at a community food swap.
For more grown up tastes, here's a recipe for a Holiday Kale Salad that I made yesterday, adapted from the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens. I feel like I could eat this for lunch and dinner for days... and it made a lot, so I most likely will be. Enjoy!
**To take a full tour of my backyard garden on Facebook, click here.**

Holiday Kale Salad

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
5 cloves fresh garlic, unpeeled
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon zest
4 cups chopped kale
2 cups cooked wild rice, cooled
1 small bulb fennel, cored and shaved or cut into very thin wedges
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup thinly sliced red sweet pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

Preheat oven to 375. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper. Place the garlic cloves on pan. Drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper. Roast uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until garlic is soft. About 10 minutes in, add cranberries to pan (also drizzled with about 1/2 tablespoon olive oil) just to plump them up. Allow to cool until garlic can be handled and then finely chop the garlic cloves.

For dressing, in a mason jar combine garlic, remaining olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and lemon zest. Cover and shake well. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper.

In a large bowl combine cranberries, kale, wild rice, fennel, walnuts, sweet pepper, and onion. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. (Makes 9 cups.)


Anonymous said...

Oh yum. I think my kiddos would eat this too. There is something so scrumptious about watching little boys eat raw kale!

Meryl said...

This looks delicious! Makes me ready for spring, even though we have a long wait still. Fresh-picked arugula...pea shoots...yum!

Unknown said...

Yummy! I miss my garden so much. We'll be moving out of this house soon and I haven't planted anything because of it. At least we have our CSA every week still. Thank you for coming to visit me from ROTH!

Shannon said...

i will be making this! leafy greens are the best...and KALE is my absolute fav. this looks amazing. thank you so much for your recent comments and visit to my blog. your space here is beautiful and inspiring! xo - shannon

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