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Real Food: The Kale Harvest

Every other week at our house, we get a delivery from Farm Fresh to You, our Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) box that brings farm-fresh produce right to our door. Of course we love opening up the box of fresh fruits and veggies, but we also love reading the newsletter that comes with each shipment. The newsletter has a little something different every time – a story, information about the produce, and a recipe or two. Our most recent newsletter had a beautiful story written by farmer Thaddeus Barsotti about picking kale at Carpay Organic Farm, Farm Fresh To You’s home base. We are excerpting his account here with permission:

Photo via Farm Fresh to You

The Kale Harvest

The furrows are sticky with mud from the last rain. The soil is dark in color and has just enough clay to slowly gather onto the bottom of your boot with each step, until there is too much, and it falls off. 

In my left hand is the beginning of a bunch of kale. My right hand finds the deep, green kale leaves that are ready to be plucked from the plant and delivered to our customers. Grip the leaf with your thumb and two more fingers, twist your wrist and quickly jolt your hand toward the ground. Once, twice, three, four times – add those new kale leaves to your left hand and start over. Back to the plant, starting at its base and pulling leaves from it until they are too small, then moving on to the next plant…

The completion of a bunch is an opportunity to stand straight up; the back muscles appreciate the stretch. In my back pocket, a cache of twist ties waits. One at a time, they are pulled and wrapped around the kale bunch where my left hand was holding the bunch together…

The finished kale gets neatly placed into a box. When the box gets twenty-four it is closed and added to a pallet that has other boxes. The pallet is sitting on a trailer that is pulled by a tractor through the field. The tractor’s and trailer’s tires fit the row perfectly and are tall enough to pass over the plants without harming them – all the tires are muddy. When the pallet gets forty boxes, a new pallet starts. 

– Thaddeus Barsotti

Reading this account of kale-picking has made us look at kale in a whole new light. In fact, as we washed and chopped the kale from this week’s box, we couldn’t help thinking of the labor a farm worker had to do picking each leaf from the muddy field and adding it to the bunch.

In honor of our kale delivery, we’re sharing this recipe we just made for a kale salad. Most of the time we add something sweet to our kale salad, whether it’s pears, raisins, blueberries, or a slightly sweet dressing. But this time we just wanted a savory salad, so we went headlong in that direction.

Sharp Cheddar Kale Salad

1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked and rinsed

1 large bunch fresh kale

3 T. extra-virgin olive oil

1 T. balsamic vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar (We used Kerrygold Vintage Irish Cheddar)

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add the quinoa, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Fluff the quinoa and set it aside to cool.

Meanwhile, wash the kale leaves and pat them dry. Remove the tough stems and discard; finely chop the remaining leaf portions into ribbon-thin slices. Place chopped kale in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice; pour over the kale. Mix thoroughly, “massaging” the oil into the kale. Let the kale sit with the dressing on for at least 1/2 hour.  After the kale is tempered, add the cheddar and pine nuts. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. Serves 4.

Stay tuned for more kale recipes throughout the month!

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3 Responses to Real Food: The Kale Harvest

  1. Suzi January 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    My mouth is watering!! Sounds so good and looks it too.

  2. amee January 9, 2013 at 7:18 am #

    What a great recipe! I’m always looking to integrate more quinoa and kale in my diet. I love the cheddar in this recipe too. Can wait to try this creation – would make a great light lunch for work too!!

    • Jeanne January 9, 2013 at 8:18 am #

      Thanks, Amee! I just brought some for lunch yesterday!

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