Thursday, October 22, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Portuguese kale

by Andrea Yoder

This is one of those vegetables that you will likely never find in a grocery store or co-op in this country. This vegetable caught our eye in a seed catalog several years ago.  We only grow it once every few years, so take advantage of it this year and have some fun with it!

You’ll be able to identify this vegetable in your box pretty easily this week. It has large broad green leaves that are mostly flat but do have a little waviness on the edges. The leaves are thick, like a collard green, and have sturdy white ribs. It’s been really fun watching this plant grow—first it forms the large outer leaves, and towards the end of its growing season it forms more of a center head as the leaves curl towards the center. First it resembled collards, now the plants are behaving more like cabbage. We spaced the plants pretty far apart which has allowed them to grow up to 2 feet high and wide in some cases!  It’s quite an impressive plant!

In Portugal, this kale is the key ingredient in one of their national dishes called Caldo Verde. There are many versions of Caldo Verde, but all of them include several basic ingredients that characterize Portuguese cuisine. Some of the ingredients that complement Portuguese kale include potatoes, onions, beans and a spicy sausage (most often chorizo is used in this country). The recipe we’ve included in this newsletter is our favorite version of this Portuguese national soup. We’ve looked forward to eating this soup all year and think this is a great way to prepare this vegetable and you’ll only get to eat it once a year! This soup does freeze well, so make a big batch and put some in the freezer to enjoy later this winter!

One of the interesting things about this kale is that it is a little different from other kales in that the thick ribs can be eaten raw-simply remove the leaf from the rib. Thinly peel off the outer layer of the rib to expose the tender, sweet flesh—very similar to peeling and eating the stem of broccoli. The rib can be cooked separately or eaten raw. The leaves should be cooked. If you slice them thinly, they do not need quite as much cooking time. You should plan to cook the leaves in some kind of liquid—either added to soup, steamed or simmered in a small amount of water or stock. Store your Portuguese kale in the refrigerator wrapped loosely in a plastic bag. We hope you enjoy and appreciate trying this new kale as much as we’ve enjoyed growing it for you!

Caldo Verde-Portuguese Kale Soup

by Chef Andrea Yoder
Serves 6-8
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion or 2 leeks, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup of Portuguese kale ribs, peeled and sliced in ½” pieces
5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and large diced (Purple Viking potatoes are our favorite ones to use in this soup)
8 cups cold water or pork/chicken stock
10 ounces chorizo, diced
4 cups Portuguese Kale leaves, thinly sliced
Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions or leeks and cook until they are translucent. Add the garlic and kale ribs. Cook for 3-5 minutes. 
  2. Add the potatoes, and water or stock. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. 
  3. Remove the soup from the heat and take off the cover. Allow the soup to cool for 5-10 minutes. Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. 
  4. Return the soup to the pan and put it over low heat. Add the chorizo, cover and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the kale leaves, return the cover and simmer for another 5-10 minutes or until the kale is tender. Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper to your liking. Serve hot.

**Note: If you’d like to make a vegetarian version of this soup, you can eliminate the chorizo and season the soup with a bit of smoked paprika.

Avocado & Beet Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Serves 6
6 medium red or golden beets
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, diced fine
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp chopped chervil*
¼ tsp chopped lemon zest
¼ tsp orange zest
2 firm, ripe avocados
Chervil sprigs

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Trim and wash beets. Put them in a baking dish, add a splash of water and cover tightly. Roast the beets in the oven for about 45 minutes, until they are cooked through.
  3. When the beets are cooked, allow them to cool uncovered. Peel and cut them into wedges. Put them in a bowl, season generously with salt and pepper, add the red wine vinegar and 1 Tbsp of olive oil and toss gently.
  4. Put the diced shallot in a bowl and add the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, orange juice, and a pinch of salt. Let macerate for 15 minutes. Whisk in ¾ cup olive oil and stir in the chervil, lemon zest and orange zest. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove pits. Leaving the skin intact, cut avocados lengthwise in ¼-inch slices. Scoop out the slices with a large spoon and arrange them on a platter or individual dishes. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the beets over the avocado slices and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Garnish with a few chervil sprigs.

* Note: May substitute fresh tarragon or parsley if you don’t have chervil.

Recipe borrowed from Alice Water’s Chez Panisse CafĂ© Cookbook.

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