I was married for 18 years to a man who grew all our vegetables. It was his hobby, his passion, and what he referred to as his “living meditation.”
We lived in Tucson, Arizona and you can be sure, growing vegetables in the middle of the Sonoran Dessert took quite a green thumb.
It wasn’t that he couldn’t find the water for it—he harvested that from the monsoons. It was that he couldn’t find enough shade for it. And so, where in other parts of the world that he lived he would have to put up deer fences and bird screens, in our Tucson garden, he would have to put up shade screens just to keep the vegetables from burning.
Finally he developed a scheme whereby he had a winter raised garden bed, which was right out in the full sun, and a summer raised garden bed, which was under the shade of a mesquite tree, which saved him having to put up new sun screens every few years and worked quite nicely for his seasonal crops.
He grew three different types of kale and there was always an abundance of harvest that we would eat right out of the garden. When the season was over, however, he would pick all the kale at once and bring it in the house in big straw laundry baskets.
I would be literally surrounded by kale.
I used to cut it all up and cook it in a huge pot with a little bit of olive oil and garlic. Once it wilted down I would spoon it into old yoghurt containers I had saved and put them in the deep freeze. Needless to say, we would have fresh, garden picked kale all year round, never mind that some of it had been frozen.
These days, I don’t have a vegetable garden and I can say without a doubt, even if I buy so-called “organic”—nothing tastes like home grown. Especially kale. Home grown kale is buttery and tender; almost sweet. Fresh and in salads it is better than lettuce. It carries its weight in any kind of dressing and brings a vitamin punch that lettuce can’t even begin to deliver.
I had actually grown up with kale. When I was a little girl my Italian mother would make greens and bean on Fridays (back in the day when we couldn’t eat meat). She referred to it as “Italian Soul Food” and would always save a little over to mix with pasta the next day. It was strange to me to learn that Kale had become the new “super food” as I had been having it all my life.
The recipe below is a recent development of mine and has turned out to be one of my favorite salads. While I call it a salad, it is really a full meal in that it delivers the entire array of proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables that are needed and is a very filling and satisfying dish. I like it in particular because I always have all of the ingredients on hand in my vegan kitchen except of course, the kale which, these days, I have to go out and buy!
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup Braggs Amino Acids
- 4 tbls. tequila, vodka, gin or Chinese rice wine (your choice) (I use tequila)
- 4 tsp. Jaggery sugar (from the East Indian Market)
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbls. maple syrup
- 1 tbls. date syrup
- 1/4 cup peanut butter (keep separate)
Mix all the ingredients together (except the peanut butter) and save it in the refrigerator. I have kept it for up to two weeks. It’s great to have on hand for stir fried veggies, or rice or for anything dish with an Asian flare.
To dress the salad below, add 1/4 cup peanut butter to equal parts dressing. If you have a salad that needs more dressing, increase the peanut butter, keeping the ratio of sauce to peanut butter the same.
For the Salad:
- 1 small head fresh kale (chopped into bite-sized pieces)
- 1/2 cup cooked (cold) brown rice
- 1/4 cup cooked (cold) edamame beans
- 1/4 cup matchstick carrots (I buy them from the produce department of the grocery store)
- 1/2 finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 finely chopped green onions (tops only)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
- 1 Cara Cara orange peeled and cut into bite size pieces (or any other kind of fresh orange)
- 1/2 cup chopped pickled ginger (the kind you get with sushi, you can buy it in jars)
- 2 tbls. chopped peanuts
- 1 medium sized, nicely ripened avocado cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Nori (rolled and sliced into thin strips – for garnish)
I adapted the basic sauce recipe from theglutenfreevegan.com. and it is not quite the same as theirs. The peanut butter especially is my own addition. The salad is entirely my own creation.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: via the author