Monday, April 16, 2012

A Raw Deal

As you know, I have been trying to eat healthier.  I love me some fruits and veggies. I've accepted quinoa into my life with open arms.  I live for my juicer, and I've even been able, for the most part, to abstain from cheese.  Or as I like to call is, "Nature's Candy."

I have embraced my new twigs and berries lifestyle.

However, the one thing that I can't really fully comprehend is the whole raw food movement.  I think I would miss the time over a saute pan or a stock pot taking in the delicious aromas that come from cooking.  What is a cold winter's night without a warm bowl of soup?  How can you resist a (black bean) burger?  Baked sweet potato fries? Strawberry rhubarb pie? Lasagna?!

However, I do understand that enjoying fruits and vegetables in their natural state maintains their vitamins and nutrients.  And, it's probably the healthier choice.  Someday, I may venture forth into the wacky world raw enchiladas and raw cupcakes (someone please explain this one to me).  But until that day, I will stick to enjoying some kale in its raw form.

Kale and Currant Salad with a Tarragon Honey Vinaigrette

Use this method as a base to improvise your own combinations.  Mangoes, oranges, fennel, slivered almonds, parsley, basil.  You get the idea. Play with your food!

2 large bunches of kale
1/2 cup carrots, grated
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup currants
1 lemon
1 tsp tarragon vinegar
1 clove garlic
2 Tbl fresh tarragon
3 Tbl honey
1/4 cup olive oil
salt 'n pepper to taste
pepitas or pine nuts to garnish

Remove stems from kale.  Grasp the stem, fold leaves over, and yank those suckers free!  Place leaves on top of one another and roll them into a "cigar".  Give them a coarse chop and transfer to a large bowl.  It will look like a TON of kale, but fear not!

Squeeze juice from one half of the lemon over leaves along with the vinegar, a splash of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt.  With your hands, mash on the kale and squeeze it gently.  We are using the acid to help break down some of the fibers in the leaves.  The kale should reduce in volume by half, become bright green, and take on the slightest scent of bananas.  Crazy, no?

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining lemon juice, garlic, and honey.  Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly to incorporate fully.  Add tarragon and season with salt and pepper.

Add carrots, currants, and onions to the kale.  Toss salad with dressing.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.  When you are ready to serve, garnish salad with pepitas or pine nuts.

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