Tuscan Kale, Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Quinoa

Farmers Market season is here and I am doing a happy dance!  Fresh from the farm produce is such a joy after a winter of frozen veggies, even if they are home grown. There is something magical about using fresh from the farm produce; it just makes you feel more alive and somehow… better fed with more nutrition. I think even the act of going to a fresh market is more enlivening! There is such energy surrounding the activity! I’m not sure if it’s the energy from the fresh food or the positive attitude of the farmers or the enthusiasm of the shoppers, but the whole activity is positively uplifting!

All that being said, I purchased some Tuscan Kale from Jett Produce to make this salad. Farmer Thad Jett operates a small local farm committed to sustainable farming, growing chemical-free, nutrient-dense, fresh and flavorful high-quality food, year round thanks to high tunnel technology. What is high tunnel technology, you ask? According to Penn State Cooperative extension, high tunnels fall under Season Extension Technology which is part of the broader technology of Plasticulture or the use of plastics in agricultural production systems. In plain English, Farmer Thad works hard year round using a structure, much like a greenhouse that extends the growing season to provide amazing produce, year-round. Farmer Thad is a regular at the Slowmarket Place@NCC and sells direct from his farm in Telford, PA.

I have been eating kale all my life, long before it was big news! It was grown in the garden my grandmother and great-uncle tended in our family’s back yard. My mom always made it sautéed with fresh garlic and olive oil and I still make it that way quite often. Kale has probably never been more popular than it is today and with good reason, researchers have discovered that; One cup provides 1,327 percent of the Daily Requirement for vitamin K, 192 percent for vitamin A, and 88 percent for vitamin C. (http://www.drweil.com) Tuscan Kale tastes much like any other kale, maybe a little sweeter but I really like it because its flat leaf texture is appealing and makes it easier to prepare. The stem is not as tough and can actually be used if you want, I usually cut it out. It’s great for salads because it’s not quite as tough as curly kale.

This leads us to the recipe. This recipe is inspired by a soup that I make during the winter months, Tuscan Kale and Bean soup. Like the soup, this salad contains kale and white beans. Here I am using roasted red peppers instead of crushed red pepper and Quinoa instead of potatoes. The soup also has Italian sausage in it which wouldn’t be too great in a salad but grilled chicken would be perfect! Leave off the chicken and it is vegan and gluten-free!

In salad or soup, steamed or sautéed, kale deserves a place on your dinner plate! With great taste and high nutrition, it has a lot to bring to the party so enjoy some soon.  See you at the farmer’s markets!

Diana

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 Tuscan Kale, Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Quinoa

1 cup Quinoa

1 red bell pepper, roasted

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 small red onion, sliced thinly

1 bunch Tuscan kale, washed and sliced into ribbons, tough ribs removed

4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

Roast 1 red bell pepper and set aside.  Peppers can be roasted on a grill over an open fire, over a gas flame if you have a gas stove or if you’re like me and have an electric only kitchen, in the broiler. I keep the pepper as close to the top element as possible, turning the pepper every few minutes to evenly blacken the skin.  Once the skin is evenly blackened I move the pepper to a bowl and cover the bowl with a plate to sweat the skin off the pepper. Keep it covered, about 5 minutes. I used this time to slice the kale and onion. Remove the dish from the top of the bowl and gently peel the skin off the pepper. You will also want to cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds and what left of the ribs of the peppers. Slice the pepper into strips.  Of course, you can buy roasted red peppers in a jar, usually packed in oil, but nothing beats the smell and taste of a freshly roasted red pepper.

Rinse the quinoa and cook in 1 cup of water.  When it’s done, toss with the sliced kale, the warmth from the quinoa will wilt the kale just a touch, making it a bit more tender.  Stir together the extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon, salt and pepper to make the dressing and pour over kale ad quinoa, toss to coat.  Add the roasted red pepper, cannellini beans and thinly sliced red onion and toss.  Serve at room temperature and top with sliced grilled chicken breast if desired.

 Serves 4

 

 

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