New Column | The Kitchen Gardener
Today we're welcoming a new columnist to the PGM blog, Jacqui Scoggin, the author of a blog I have long admired, Good Things Grow. Her monthly column will explore the thrills and challenges of growing a kitchen garden—along the same lines as Jesse & Melanie's Homesteading column in the print magazine, who couldn't use a little more garden-to-table, homesteading advice? With recipes?! We're thrilled to have you Jacqui, welcome!
I've always been in love with food; the preparation, the communal aspect and of course, the eating, but in the past few years as my quest for local choices has risen, so has my hunger for growing food myself. We became home owners last spring and at the top of my list of things to do was to carve out a space to grow vegetables, herbs, and fruit. Four raised beds later and the start of a ripped up front lawn and I'm starting to wonder if I'm trying to feed a house for two or the whole block.
My goal each month here on the Pure Green blog will be to create recipes based on what's grown in my small city garden. Some months I know are going to be slim, but luckily for me, that's when a freezer or pantry stocked with items preserved from summer comes in handy. I hope to share with you what the experience of growing your own food can bring into your life, as well as your belly. And with that, I'll start with kale.
There's not too much in the garden these days, but I do have a few odd looking thick stalks still sprouting a few dimpled green kale leaves, lots of leeks, some very sad looking brussels sprouts, and an overwintered purple sprouting broccoli that I have my eyes set on for a March or April harvest. Kale, however has unarguably been one of the most prolific and hearty greens I've grown to date. I've grown it on fourth-floor apartment balconies, in containers, and in bare plots of earth, and it's always managed to produce some sort of crop no matter how neglected. Plus it's a nutrition powerhouse that should be a staple to any diet. If you've hopped on the green smoothie train then you've probably added a few leaves to the mix. My current favorite includes one small banana, a handful of blueberries, a splash of almond milk and as many leafy green kale leaves as I can pack in, about 5-7 depending on their size.
Kale is also extra sweet this time of year because it gets a flavor boost after a frost hits it, not really something you can say about delicate lettuces. So instead of tender salads accompanying our winter dinners, I typically reach for dark leafy kale leaves and prepare them in several different ways. One is this lightly sautéed little number that's as flavorful as it is simple to make.
serves 3-4 as a side
1 large bunch of lacinato (aka dino), Russian, or curly kale
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large cast iron or sauté pan over medium heat.
Prepare the kale by cutting out the center rib of each leaf. You can either do this by laying it down on the cutting board and using a sharp knife to cut it out or hold the thick stem end in one hand and grip and pull the leaves off with the other (my preferred method because it's quicker). Then stack the leaves and slice into 1/2-inch thick ribbons.
Drizzle a bit of olive oil into the pan, swirl around, then add the red onion slices. Cook just until softened, about 3-5 minutes, then stir in the kale and a pinch of salt and pepper.
The kale with start to wilt down and turn a darker shade of green. You can remove from the heat at any point, depending on how cooked down you prefer your greens. Then squeeze the lemon juice over the top and serve.
To follow Jacqui on a more regular basis, hop on over to Good Things Grow. Photos and recipe in this post by Jacqui for PGM.