Sunday, November 24, 2013

Recipe: Kale Strata

Yes, yes, I know it has been MONTHS since I posted. Farming is full-time work, or should I say "full-time-plus" work, so all of my blogs have been post-less for months and months. For those of you who do wish to keep up with our farm though, I do manage to write short updates on our farm's Facebook page (our garlic is now fully planted for next year's crop, just in the nick of time, as winter really came early this year in SE Michigan).

In any case, here is a delicious and beautiful recipe featuring kale and other fall crops. Strata recipes are perfect for brunch or perfect for supper. Like casseroles, they are nearly "one-pot" meals. We served this strata for company at lunch with just a simple spinach salad and applesauce, which was perfect.

Full disclosure, this recipe takes some effort and time for assembly and cooking. It is not a quick, throw-it-together and forget-about-it type of meal. However, all the prep and assembly can be done ahead of time (which I did) so I had plenty of time to spend with our good friends, which is what good food is all about!

Kale Strata (inspired from Food and Wine)

• 2-1/2 Tbsp. butter
• 2# butternut squash (peeled, seeded, diced into 1/2" pieces - I weighed this out and saved the rest of the squash to use later)
• 1/4 cup olive oil (I rarely measure my oil, always using less than called for)
• salt
• pepper, freshly ground
• 4 medium leeks (trimmed of roots and using the white portion plus ~2 inches of the greens - slice down the middle length-wise to carefully clean)
• 3/4# kale, trimmed of most of the stalks, and then chop the leaves coarsely (I weighed the kale before I trimmed the stalks, but feel free to be flexible here)
• 4 (or more) garlic cloves, minced small - we're a garlic farm so of course we used more!
• pinch of crushed red pepper (I used powdered cayenne pepper)
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
• 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
• 3-1/2 cup whole milk
• 1/2 cup unflavored yogurt
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 8 large eggs (I used our own for this recipe!)
• 3/4# multi-grain bread, cut into 1" pieces (I weighed this rather than just guessing)
• 1/3 cup freshly-grated hard cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. and butter a 9x13 inch baking dish (for use later).

2. In a large bowl, toss the diced squash with about 1 Tbsp. oil and season with a small amount of salt and pepper. Spread squash on a rimmed baking sheet (I first lined it with parchment paper) and bake for ~25 minutes at 425 until tender.

3. Now reduce the oven temperature to 325 F if you are going to bake the strata the same day or turn it off if you are going to bake the strata tomorrow. (I did not notice this temperature drop when I first made this recipe so it was likely 'over-done', but there were no complaints!)

4. While the squash is baking, clean and slice the leeks, heat ~1 Tbsp. oil in large skillet and cook over medium heat about 25 minutes until golden but not burned. Scrape into the bowl used to toss the squash with oil.

Cook's Note: the most useful new kitchen tool I have begun using this past year has been a "Simmer Mat" - please note that this statement is not an 'ad', just a statement of fact, which keeps many things from burning on our unpredictable stovetop burners. Thanks to our friend GB for giving it to us!

5. While leeks are simmering, cut up the bread into 1-inch pieces and place into the bowl that was used to toss the squash with oil.

6. Next, while the leeks are still simmering, peel and mince the garlic, wash the kale, shake dry, chop off the stems (we feed these to the chickens who pick them clean), and then chop the kale leaves. In the same skillet, heat the garlic, kale, red pepper and thyme seasoning, salt to taste, until kale is wilted and just tender (about 5 minutes, no more). Scrape out of pan into bowl with the leeks.

7. In a large sauce pan, melt about 2-1/2 Tbsp. butter, add the flour and cook over moderate heat (on that simmer mat) until a light golden paste forms, whisking constantly, about 3 minutes (this is not the time to be trying to look ahead in the recipe). Whisk in 1 cup of the milk and cook until very thick, which may be 8-10 minutes, whisking very often.

8. Remove saucepan from heat, slowly whisk in the remaining 2-1/2 cups of milk, 1/2 cup of yogurt, honey, a small amount of salt and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon each). Let cool completely.

9. Beat eggs into the sauce with a whisk. (it was so much fun to watch the white sauce turn into a golden-yellow sauce from those gorgeous deeply colored yolks from our chickens)

10. Add the roasted squash cubes to the same bowl with the other vegetables and bread cubes. Mix all together until evenly distributed.

11. Then finally add cooled sauce to the bowl, carefully stir until all is mixed, pour mixture into the greased baking dish, let stand for 30 minutes, pressing down on the mixture occasionally to make sure the bread absorbs the liquid.

12. Here is where I covered the dish with foil and put it in the refrigerator over night. (Note: I brought the dish out of the refrigerator an hour before baking just to bring up the temperature for a bit.)

13. Bake the strata for 55-60 minutes at 325F. until almost set. Increase the oven temperature to 475F. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for ~15 minutes prior to serving.

14. Serves 8-10 easily as this is a hearty dish served with a simple salad and fruit for sides.

Here is the photo from, as we ate our meal much to quickly to photograph it myself. The dish met with RAVE reviews from my husband and all of our guests. It was definitely worth the time it took to make this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Where kale continues to be enjoyed beyond decoration on my plate (just asking, does anyone still do that anymore?),

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kale in hospitals? Yes!

It's not every hospital that has its own farm, but St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan has taken some of its 350+ acre medical campus (which of course was a farm before the land was sold to allow the building of the hospital plus multiple clinics, parking lots, and lawn) and is re-creating a farm that is growing organic food for the hospital and the community. The Farm at St. Joe's is leading the way for other health care institutions to create healthy communities and has won a major award from the Catholic Healthcare Association for this work.

I'm interviewed for this documentary as I do serve on The Advisory Committee for The Farm, but I am only a 'supporting actress' in this film. The main show is The Farm itself along with the love and commitment that the St. Joe's staff shows for this vital effort of nourishing and healing their patients and the wider community with healthy, delicious food. Our two farms work together to support these goals.

Farmer Dan Bair says it best with the closing line "Health care is happening here." :)

Please watch and please share widely. Who knows where and how far this happiness and good health will spread? Maybe you'll be seeing kale in your local hospital, too! 

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate - It's a best-seller at a hospital-based farmers' market!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Recipe: Blackberry Kale Smoothie

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day (a rare treat for a farmer after the growing season has started) when she told me about her kale smoothie recipe using blackberries. Wow, it sounded good! For some reason (not sure why) I have never made a kale smoothie with blackberries. I simply cannot wait for blackberry season to get here to make this so I will break down to actually buy some frozen blackberries (and some pre-chopped fresh pineapple - also a rare treat!) to make my own as soon as I can get to the grocery store. (which is not very often during growing season). 

Here is the recipe plus a photo and my friend's comments!

Diana – John and I decided you must have 364 days of kale and were scraping the barrel to ask me for a recipe (lol)! But here it is:

2 cups chopped/torn kale leaves (without big stems), 
I cup frozen blackberries, 
4 chunks of fresh peeled pineapple, 
water as desired  

I usually eat this with a hard boiled egg, or you can add a handful of almonds to the other ingredients in the blender! It's non-dairy and has nothing in it to bother me :) 

Thanks for always inspiring me to try harder. 
love Jane 

I told Jane to send me her recipe plus a photo and I would post it up on my kale blog and make her more famous than she already is - haha. :) (and yes she is very well-known in her own little corner of the world!)

Thanks, Jane. Now you've inspired me!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, for sure!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A book to read that ends with kale!

I don't think I've ever made a book recommendation on my kale blog, but here's a great book to read.  I won't tell you too much because I don't want to take away from both the pleasure and heart-ache of reading it yourself.

The title is Turn Here – Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works by Atina Diffley, University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

I've already recommended it to a dozen friends.

The book is not about kale per se but ends with a kale recipe that I've made myself, without a recipe, over and over again!

Sesame Kale - makes 2-4 servings depending on appetite and level of kale passion

1 bunch of organic kale, thick stems removed and coarsely chopped
1-4 cloves garlic, minced: adjust according to your taste and social life (haha! we would easily use the 4 - or more - cloves of garlic!)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup water
roasted sesame oil
ume plum vinegar (or red wine vinegar or vinegar of your choice)

Heat olive oil in heavy pan. Saute garlic for 20-30 seconds, do not brown or burn! Mix in chopped kale. Add water and cover. Steam on low for 5-10 minutes, until desired tenderness (I always use the lesser of times to keep the kale as green and crisp as possible). Spread on a platter, sprinkle with roasted sesame seed oil and vinegar to taste (I often also sprinkle some sesame seeds over the kale).

As said by a friend of the author, "You could eat gravel with roasted sesame oil on it." I laughed out loud! What a great way to end the book. Try this recipe and read the book. :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Springtime quotes!

When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed 
I feel such an exhilaration and health
that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time 
in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands. 

~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."

~~ Margaret Atwood

I hope you can get out there to plant some kale and other cool weather Brassica vegetables!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, April 12, 2013

Go get some!

I'm so glad I was 'pushed' into joining Facebook. Otherwise, I would have missed this great photo from Koetsiers Greenhouse in Grand Rapids, Michigan!

Oh wow, talk about eye-candy. :) Too funny and so lovely!

Kale never looked so good. :)

Go get some! You can decide which I am talkin' about!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kale for Breakfast

Yep, and not just in a smoothie. Here's a great article in written by Kim Bayer, a friend of mine, in which she writes about starting her days this winter eating her own or locally-grown kale for breakfast.

What's not to love with an article like this?! (big smile)

However what I really love (even more than Kim's shout-out to this blog) is her comment that 'food is healthcare, medicine is sick care.' Thank you, Kim, for giving this awareness a much deserved shout-out. How true. I've been saying words to this effect for years and years now in one way or another.

I also like to give shout-outs to all of our local farmers who grow healthy food to feed their own communities because I view them as being a community's true front-line health care providers. I don't know how many of them see themselves in this light, but I do. If you are not growing all of your own healthy food (and I'm not), please thank your farmers for all the hard work they are doing in order to keep you healthy! I try to remember to do this every time I buy something from them at the farmers' markets.

I also found it interesting that Kim notes in this article that she hasn't had a cold all winter long this year. Neither have I, which of course could be due to all the kale (and other Brassica vegetables) that Kim and I each eat. However, I also see that Kim mentions she adds fresh garlic to her kale each morning, so maybe there is more than one thing going on here. Point of fact, while I don't eat garlic for breakfast on a regular basis, I do eat garlic on a daily basis in one form or another. And I just happen to know Kim's local garlic farmers and know just how great their garlic tastes, which is enough for me to recommend eating garlic daily, starting at breakfast and continuing throughout the day.

When you start your day with great tasting healthy food, great health is sure to follow, which sounds like a beautiful way to start your day.

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate (and Kim's too!),

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Friends, with benefits!

Another great kale poster going around on Facebook these days. I could not have said it better myself!

Let me add that all of kale's relatives listed on the right side of this blog can also easily be added to your 'new best friend' list, complete with benefits. :)

A friend who shared this poster with me said it originally came from a website called Juice up your life (dot) tv. (Please note that I am only endorsing kale as a food, not this website. I am skeptical of websites which require you to 'sign in' before seeing anything, even contact info.) 

I'll be heading down to our farmers' market on Saturday morning because I am out of kale (even eating everything that I had frozen). Fresh is always best, and how lucky we are now to have farmers growing kale and other delicious greens nearly all winter long. I hope you are so lucky where you live, too. :)

Where kale is my friend, with benefits, i.e. much more than just decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Blog cited in The Farmer's Almanac Gardening Guide!

The Harris' Farmer's Almanac 2013 Seasonal Gardening Guide (#46) is on the newsstands and includes an article about kale and my kale blog. Whoa! I was interviewed last September for this article and never thought about it again until I got a copy of the Guide in the mail yesterday from the writer Barbara Delbol. Thanks Barbara!

Two recipes from this blog are highlighted, including my husband's (locally) famous Kale Slaw, and Garlic Kale Sweet Potato Soup, a very popular recipe on this blog that was developed by the Registered Dietitians at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. 

I cannot find a link on the web to this Guide, so I guess you'll need to hop out to your local newsstand to pick up a copy.  

I wonder if kale is ever used "just" as decoration on a plate anymore? 
Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Kale Love Just Keeps on Going!

I'm not sure exactly who created this poster, but I first saw this great shout-out for kale on the Facebook page for Selma Cafea non- profit organization in Ann Arbor, Michigan that raises money through a weekly local foods breakfast salon to offer micro loans to family farms in our community to build four-season hoop houses in order to help grow the local food shed.

What's not to love?! Thanks, Selma Cafe for all you do! 

And yes, 'I heart Kale!'

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, 

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


The Los Angeles food bloggers had a great time last weekend with a delicious event featuring kale. Here is the article with all the photos of the many dishes prepared with links back to each blogger's recipe.

Which one looks good to you? (they all look good to me!) Which one are you going to make this week after hopping down to your local farmers market to buy some fresh kale? (all the photos look delicious, but I cannot resist making the brownies!)

What fun! Let me know which of these recipes you try (and love).

Where kale is still going strong as much more than just decoration on a plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, February 1, 2013

Brussels sprouts - Let's get the heart (center) of the matter

Last summer one of our customers at the local farmers' markets we attend to sell our garlic asked me if I had a copy of the following book: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee. When I sheepishly said, 'No', his simple answer was 'You must! You will love it!'. After borrowing it from our library, I agreed and I must have been a good girl this past year because Santa had a helper (my older son) leave a copy of the newer edition under our tree.

Oh my, this is a wonderful book if you enjoy food, enjoy cooking, and have questions such as "Why are Brussels sprouts often bitter when eaten?" or "Is it just my imagination or is the flavor of the Brussels sprouts leaves more bitter in the middle than on the outside of those little baby cabbages, 'mon petit chou chous'?"

McGee's On Food and Cooking makes food chemistry both alive and readable, and I could probably wax poetic and at length to answer those two questions based on information found in this 884 page book.

Instead, I'll make the answers as short as possible:
1) Brussels sprouts have the highest amount of "Relative Amounts of Sulfur Pungency Precursors", i.e. Brussels sprouts = 35 at the top end of the scale and Cauliflower = 2, at the low end of that scale. There you go!! More precursor molecules, more bitter. Brussels sprouts are at the top of the heap.

2) These flavor components are concentrated in the center of the Brussels sprout, i.e., the active growing section of the plant. So yes, these are the molecules that impart the highest degree of bitter taste, so having more of them in the center is why the center of each little sprout might taste more bitter than the outer edges. That seems like a long sentence, but I hope that makes sense. It helps to remember that these bitter molecules are present primarily for the plant's own defense mechanisms (our potential health benefits are secondary), so it would seem logical that they would be concentrated in the part of the plant where active growth is still taking place. Even my husband (who seems to know everything - he would be very good on the TV show Jeopardy) did not know this tidbit of interesting information.

As I said, I could go on and on, but I'll leave you with that understanding and hopefully a new respect for Brussels sprouts and willingness to try them (again) if you are not already a fan.

PS - I sorry that I don't know my customer's name, but I hope he'll remind me this coming summer of his book recommendation so I can be sure to thank him for my night-time reading. I am slowly, slowly making my way through (and re-reading) this encyclopedia. I also thank my older son who had a great communication with Santa. :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bring on the sprouts (Brussels, that is)

Move on over, Kale. I think Brussels sprouts (another healthful Brassica vegetable) are starting to move into your circle as being a 'sexy' vegetable. Here is an article touting their foibles and virtues on the NPR website.

I confess that I also grew up only knowing Brussels sprouts as a vegetable 'cooked to death' and just darn awful tasting. I think I have mentioned before on this blog that my husband had to kindly 'shame me' into trying them again after we were first married. Well, I'm here to tell you that his tactics worked, and I'm glad they did. Brussels sprouts are now one of my favorite vegetables, year after year after year. They are fun to grow, and we always wait until after there has been a frost to harvest them (or buy more at our local farmers' markets) so they are sweeter tasting (like kale).

I'll have to keep paying attention for more Brussels sprouts recipes. Do you have a favorite way of eating them?

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Recipe: Lentil, Sweet Potato, and Kale Whole Wheat Pocket

I forget now where I first saw a recipe that inspired me to make these delicious pocket sandwiches. This pocket sandwich can be a hand-held lunch (i.e. 'fast food') if needed, once you make up a batch of course. It is not a pie crust, which would be traditional for a 'pastry pie' like the delicious pasties that we are familiar with here in Michigan, but instead it is a very good bread dough surrounding the filling.

Everything is easy to make. The recipe made 6. Two were eaten right away, which means we now have 4 in the freezer, ready to thaw and quickly heat up in the toaster oven for a filling lunch or part of a supper on those days when we don't have time or energy to cook.

This dough was so easy to work with that it could be used with any type of savory filling that is not too wet.


For the dough:
1 cup warm water (~110 degrees is perfect. If you don't have a thermometer, the warm water should not feel hot or cool when dropped on the inside of your wrist.)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I needed to add ~1/2 cup more flour to keep the dough from being sticky - this will be very individualized based on the moisture in your flour and the humidity of the day)
1-1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
2 small sweet potatoes (you want about 1-1/2 cup mashed)
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing at the end
1 small onion
3-4 cloves garlic (or more to taste), peeled and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup French green lentils (pick over), rinse and cook ahead of time in some water, at least get them softened a bit first - brown lentils could be used also and will soften quicker
2 cups water
1/2 bunch kale, remove thick stems, chop (want ~4 cups chopped)
1/2 teaspoon salt


Combine the warm water and yeast in a small bowl and let sit until yeast dissolves.

Combine the two flours and salt in a mixer bowl with a dough hook.

Add 2 Tbps. olive oil to the flour mixture, followed by the yeast mixture and mix together on low speed until a shaggy dough forms.

Knead for 7-10 minutes (here is where you add more flour as needed) until dough is smooth and springy, not sticky. 

Place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours depending on the temperature of your room.

Bake sweet potatoes in oven, microwave, or even in a crockpot the day ahead of time. Cool, peel, and mash, adding a touch of salt. Set aside.

Dice the onion. Warm 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a medium saucepan and saute the diced onion and garlic until onion is translucent, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the spices and cook about 1 minute until fragrant.  

Add the lentils and water, bring to boil, lower heat and simmer about 10 minutes uncovered. You want the lentils to be soft not mushy but definitely not under-cooked (pre-cooking may help a bit here if using green versus brown lentils). 

Add the chopped kale and a bit more salt to the water. Cover and simmer 5-10 minutes. 

Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lentil and kale mixture to a clean bowl.

Preheat oven at this point to 450 degrees F. 

Divide the dough into 6 pieces and let rest about 20 minutes, loosely wrapped with plastic wrap. 

On a well-floured board, roll out a piece of dough into a 8-9 inch oval. Spread about 1/4 cup of the mashed sweet potato over the dough, leaving room at the edges all around to seal the dough when folded in half. 

Cover one half of the dough with the lentil-kale mixture, folding the top half of the dough over, pinch, and fold or crimp edges to seal completely. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. 

Cut a few slits into the top of the dough. Brush with olive oil. 

Repeat with remaining dough and fillings. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. To freeze, cool completely before placing pockets into a freezer container. If stacking, place two layers of freezer paper between the individual pockets so they do not freezer to each other. 

Photo: Already baked, golden brown - you can still see the slits where the steam can escape while cooking

Photo: Lentil, Sweet Potato, Kale Whole Wheat Pockets

Yum, yum! This will become a 'go-to' recipe for taking many types of left-over bits of food, combining them, wrapping them, and then having them ready to go for our own fast-food. :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate. It is in my fast-food hand pie filling, too!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Calling All Cauliflower!

You may have heard that you should only eat fruits and vegetables with deep, dark colors, i.e. "eat a rainbow", but please don't let that good advice steer you away from several white vegetables like cauliflower (also onions, garlic, fennel, and I am sure there are more), a delicious and healthy member of the large Brassica vegetable family.

Here are five great-sounding recipes from the New York Times using cauliflower in dishes inspired by Sicilian cuisine and its aromatic spices. I want to try them all (tonight!), but I think I will start with the one without a recipe per se, which is sliced cauliflower, tossed with olive oil and a little salt and then roasted, as described in the introduction to this article.

Sicilian Pasta With Cauliflower: Raisins or currants and saffron introduce a sweet element into the savory and salty mix.

Baked Ziti With Cauliflower: A delicious baked macaroni dish that has a lot more going for it nutritionally than mac and cheese.

Cauliflower and Tuna Salad: Tuna adds a new element to a classic Italian antipasto of cauliflower and capers dressed with vinegar and olive oil.

Tunisian Style Baked Cauliflower Frittata: A lighter and simpler version of an authentic Tunisian frittata.

Sicilian Cauliflower and Black Olive Gratin: A simple gratin that is traditionally made with green cauliflower, but is equally delicious with the easier-to-obtain white variety.

Which one will you try first? Of course, any one of them could also incorporate some kale, too! 
Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Front yard gardeners - guard your kale!

A true story from a friend in town, complete with photo. Warning to all front yard gardeners on the west side of Ann Arbor, MI - guard your kale and other veggies!

"My dog is begging to go outside so she can finish off this frozen kale plant. She runs for it every time we go outside. She has learned to harvest her own food. Our gardens are no longer safe. She loves raw kale. And collards. And asparagus. And is wild about tomatoes. She has even grabbed them from front yard gardens we've walked by before I could stop her.

Front yard kale, ready for the last harvest, bark, bark, mine, yum, yum! 

My friend is Linda Diane Feldt who wrote the terrific book Spinach and Beyond: Loving Life and Dark Green Vegetables in 2003. It is still the best cookbook I've seen out there devoted to this wide array of delicious and healthy vegetables. Who knows, perhaps it was Linda Diane who actually started the "kale kraze" that has swept the country (and beyond since this blog gets visitors from all around the world each and every day). 

However, point taken here with Linda Diane's anecdote about her dog's taste in vegetables is variety, variety, variety rules the day. I have been called the 'queen of kale',  but today at our farmers' market, I bought broccoli leaves, red cabbage, lettuce, and swiss chard. I'll get some kale next week, but I also love variety both for taste and for the uncountable different health-promoting phytochemicals that come all packaged up in each type of vegetable. 

So to the increasing crowd of front-yard gardeners, you can't say you haven't been warned. There are dogs out there who know what's great to eat, but I do agree with my friend that a dog eating asparagus is a major crime!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Recipes: Garlic-kale Soup and Cinnamon Kale

Two recipes for one today! I lost track of the number of times my husband said "This is great!" while eating the soup, and he even said that about the fresh kale leaves sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar as a shout-out to Denmark's traditional food eaten for good luck on New Year's Day.

So here is what I did for the soup recipe (inspired by a recipe using garlic and spinach recently published in the New York Times).

Recipe #1 - Garlic - Kale Soup


6 cups stock (I used 4 cups chicken stock with bits of chicken plus 2 cups garlic broth but any combination of vegetable, fish, or other stock can be used - I am going to try this next using some of our frozen fish/seafood stock)

1 bay leaf with a couple of sprigs of fresh parsley and thyme (I used about 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme)

1 pint stewed tomatoes

1 - 15 ounce can (2 cups drained) cooked chick peas

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 large garlic cloves, minced (I used 2 VERY large cloves of a variety of garlic called Music, which was probably about 1/4 cup of minced garlic)

1 cup elbow macaroni or other small pasta (I cooked this separately until al dente before draining and then adding to the soup)

2 eggs

1/4 freshly grated parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)

1 small bunch fresh kale (wash, shake dry, remove stems if large, chop coarsely) - about 3 cups of chopped kale (may use spinach or other greens)


1) I used my crockpot to make this soup by first thawing all the frozen broth in the crockpot, adding the bay leaf, parsley and thyme after the broth had come to a slight simmer.

2) Then add the chopped garlic, turn to high and simmer for 30 minutes or so.

3) Add the tomatoes and chick peas, heat up to a slight simmer on high, about another 30 minutes or so.

4) Add the cooked al dente pasta, remove the bay leaf (do it now before adding the kale or spinach)

5) Beat the eggs in a bowl with a whisk, stir in ~1/3 cup broth (make sure it is not boiling hot), and then stir in the cheese.

6) Remove the bay leaf. Stir the chopped kale into the soup in the crockpot, simmer for a few minutes, then slowly add in the egg mixture, making sure you get all of it into the soup. Turn heat down to low or 'keep warm' on the crockpot and stir slowly until the eggs have set.

7) Taste for any additional salt or pepper needed and serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 large servings.

Chopped kale ready to add to soup

Eggs, cheese, and broth stirred together ready to add to soup

Soup in crockpot before the egg mixture is added

Garlic-kale soup, pears, crackers, and kale sprinkled with sugar/cinnamon mixture - a great New Year's Day dinner. A new tradition is started!

Recipe #2 - Cinnamon Kale

There are many recipes on the web for kale chips sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar plus at least once source that says kale is cooked with cinnamon and sugar and then served with a white sauce on New Year's Day in Denmark, but to be honest, I didn't want to turn on the oven nor did I want to bother making a white sauce, so I took the easy way out and just took small kale leaves, washed them, shook off the excess water, and then sprinkled them with a cinnamon-sugar combination to serve as an admittedly very unusual side salad along with the soup above.

The kale leaves were not excessively sweet, in fact they tasted as if a few pieces of fruit were added to a green salad, a complement of flavors that were just right.

Fresh kale leaves washed and then sprinkled lightly with a cinnamon/sugar mixture

This Garlic-Kale Soup recipe will become part of our typical rotation of preferred meals. It was simply scrumptious using both chicken broth mixed with garlic broth. However, I am also looking forward to making it with some of our frozen fish/seafood broth and some cooked diced potatoes instead of pasta. The variations are endless and certainly all delicious. 

Enjoy, enjoy and Happy New Year!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate.

Diana Dyer, MS, RD