2014-04-04 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

The many shades of green
By Connie Wendell
Special contributor

At first I saw some green tips in my garden and now I am seeing green leaves and stems. Even though it can be a bit chilly, winter is over.

I am seeing many shades of green, which is a sign of spring. Another way to see shades of green in the foods you eat. Greens are the healthiest on the planet and kale is a powerhouse of nutrients to pump your health up.

Try some of these recipes and you will be on your way to a much healthier you.

Kale salad

3 cups finely chopped fresh kale leaves; 1 plum tomato, chopped; 1/3 cup chopped red sweet pepper; ¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise; 3 radishes, thinly sliced and halved; 2 scallions, sliced; 2 tablespoons sunflower kernels; and ¼ cup Asian dressing (recipe below).

In a large bowl, combine kale, tomato, sweet pepper, olives, radishes, scallions, and sun flower kernels. Toss gently to mix.

Drizzle Asian dressing over vegetables. Toss gently to coat. Makes 4 (1 cup) side-dish servings.

Asian dressing

In a screw-top jar, combine 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 tablespoons water; 2 tablespoons olive oil; ½ teaspoon onion powder; and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder. Cover and shake well.

Chill until ready to serve or for up to one week. Makes ½ cup.

Roasted chicken legs with kale

1 ½ pounds tender, young kale, stems and inner ribs removed; 1 ½ pounds medium Yukon gold potatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick; 1 medium onion, thinly sliced; ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil; salt and fresh ground pepper to taste; 8 whole chicken legs; 1 teaspoon paprika; and lemon wedges for serving.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a very large roasting pan, toss the kale, potatoes and onion with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and spread in an even layer.

Set the chicken on a cutting board, skin side down. Slice halfway through the joint between the drumsticks and thighs. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with paprika and set on top of the vegetables.

Cover the pan with foil.

Roast the chicken in the upper third of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for 30 minutes longer, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.

Transfer the chicken to plates and spoon the vegetables alongside. Serve with lemon wedges.

Serves eight.

Mediterranean kale, white bean soup with sausage

½ pound sweet Italian sausage (about 3 links); 2 tablespoons olive oil; ½ onion, cut into small dice; 1 medium carrot, cut into small dice; 1 rib celery, cut into small dice; 5 large garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons); 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes; Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper; 6 cups lower-salt chicken broth; 1 pound 3 ounces can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups cooked dried beans; 1 pound kale, rinsed, stems removed, leaves torn into bitesized pieces (8 cups, firmly packed; 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice; and ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional).

Remove the sausage from the casing and tear it by hand into bite-size pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 4-5 quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate, leaving any rendered fat in the pot.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot, increase the heat to medium high and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and cook, stirring frequently until they begin to soften and brown, about 2 minutes more. Be sure to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the garlic, pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

When the broth reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium; add the sausage along with any collected juices and half of the beans.

Mash the remaining beans with a fork or a wooden spoon and add them to the pot, stirring to distribute. Stir in the kale; adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer until the kale is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves six to eight.

Enjoy these recipes and you will be a force to reckoned with. Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

Return to top