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Kale Attempt #1 – Chopped Kale & Beet Salad

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I have a goal to try 3 new vegetables, 3 different ways this year.  My first vegetable choice was eggplant and my first attempt at cooking it went quite well, so I was eager to try my hand at another new veggie.  For the second, I chose kale.

It seems kale has become a fad in the past couple of years, with countless recipes for kale being featured all over the internet and celebrities talking about it and famous chefs preparing it.  It’s like when the acai berry (a-KAI or A-sa-EE?  Remember how hard it was to pronounce?) became super popular and was suddenly featured everywhere.  Well I’m nothing if not a band-wagon jumper, so I thought I’d try kale on for size and see what I could make of the bitter green.  (I actually tend to avoid following trends just out of a disdain for conformity, but sometimes I’ve just got to give in!)

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This green is not new to me, though I haven’t eaten it since I was a kid when my Mom would add kale into our mashed potatoes to make them green.  That’s a pretty ingenious way to get kids to eat more greens, if you ask me.  But that’s not why I wanted to try kale; I mostly wanted to try it because I’ve seen recipes to make kale chips everywhere since I’ve started getting into the blogging world, and I still don’t believe they’ll be that great.  Naturally I also intended to try kale as a salad green, but that was not my intention when I came across this recipe.

I was actually searching for a way to use some of the beets from my garden in salads, aside from roasting them and adding them to a tossed salad which I highly recommend – even better if there’s carrots also.  When one of the results from my search came up with this recipe for Chopped Kale & Beet Salad, and it had a video (fun!), I knew I had to try it.  I love fresh beets, so it was bound to be good!

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This recipe is from a blog called Joyous Health, where Joy McCarthy offers all sorts of tips and recipes for eating healthy.  I particularly enjoyed this video, which featured her and her husband making this salad, because their love of kale made me want to eat it – always a good start!  They also had a couple of tips for working with kale and explained some of the healthy benefits of not only kale but the other ingredients in the salad as well.

Before I started, I ripped a piece of kale off and tried it as is, and was surprised to find that it wasn’t nearly as bitter as most bloggers seem to indicate.  That made me eager to get the salad made, so I quickly chopped it all up.  Next I used a food processor to grate my beets.  I’d never grated beets before so I wasn’t sure how easy it would be, but the machine made quick work of them; it kind of looked like a bloody mess in there…

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The other ingredients are dates and pumpkin seeds; I replaced the pumpkin seeds with pine nuts since that’s what I had on hand, but I didn’t have many and I think it could have used more.  The dressing is fairly straightforward with just olive oil, honey, lemon juice and salt.  My dressing ended up a little watered down because I used a little hot water to get the rest of the honey out of the container, but it still tasted good.  And for my own little twist, because I have a compulsive need to make almost every recipe my own creation, I added feta cheese.  Feta goes really well with beets, and went so perfectly in this salad, that I can’t imagine the salad without it.  Yum!

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I served this salad with Apricot Soy Pork Chops and steamed broccoli, and got two thumbs up from Tavis so I consider that a success!  The leftovers of the salad were also good, but as a general rule I prefer salads made fresh and this one is no exception.  Instead, next time I’ll keep all the ingredients separate and put them all together when I’m ready to eat it.  Also, I think any nut would go well in this recipe and next time I’d add more dates than called for.  Bottom line: I’ll definitely make this salad again!

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Have you ever tried kale?

S

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