Autumn Salad with kale, purple cauliflower & wheat berries

I think it’s only fitting to celebrate the first day of fall with a warm autumn salad. Walking through the farmers market, I’ve been inspired by color, like forest green kale and the jewel tones of purple cauliflower. My salads are transitioning from bright and fresh to warm and nourishing. I need sustenance. I need comfort. I’m ready to return to the kitchen, to spend time at the stove developing flavor in fall produce with slow cooking techniques: braising, roasting, and sweating the vegetables. Wheat berries are a favorite of mine. I love the texture. Wheat berries are pleasantly chewy and never mushy. They do take a long time to cook, but this can be done a day or two ahead of time. It’s important to soak wheat berries in water at least overnight if not 24 hours. I promise they are worth it.

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Storyboard: Kale

Kale Storyboard (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Kale leaves add color, texture, and a sweet minerality to hearty autumnal dishes. Full of vitamin C and other nutrients, Kale is nourishing and satisfying. I encourage you to seek out this sturdy green at local farmers markets, where you’re sure to find a variety of colors and leaf textures. It’s easy to get in a rut, eating the same old greens. Trying kale is a great opportunity to wake up your palate.

Growing

Kale is a grand addition to the home garden, its long green and ultra-violet blue leaves displayed proudly from a thick, strong stem. This member of the cabbage family is easy to grow. The cut and come again leaves are more delicious and sweet after a frosty autumn night. Kale requires a moist soil, but tolerates a wide range of conditions with ease. Sow in spring, as they require a long growing period to reach maturity. You’ll be able to harvest from late summer through winter.

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Cook in the Moment: Ribollita

Each week I contribute a column to “Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder” expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. This week I shared a recipe for Ribollita, a hearty Tuscan soup featuring a type of kale called cavolo nero. Here is the original article:

This week, La Domestiqueis devoted to kale, a large, leafy green that comes into season just as the summer squash and tomatoes taper off. Several varieties of kale are available in the grocery store and farmers’ market. The leaves can be black and deeply wrinkled, green with a stiff and curly shape, or feathered with a red vein. One of my favorites is Cavolo Nero, also called Tuscan kale, Lacinato, or dinosaur kale.

According to Lidia Bastianich, the queen of Italian cuisine, Cavolo Nero is the traditional green used in Tuscan Ribollita, a hearty vegetable soup thickened with day-old bread. In Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, she describes the flavor of Cavolo Nero as “an earthy, mouth-filling flavor, as if cabbage, broccoli, chicory, and spinach were all packed into one leaf.” Ribollita is Italian for “reboiled,” which makes sense considering Ribollita was originally peasant food, invented to stretch leftover minestrone. The soup was so delicious and satisfying that Ribollita eventually morphed into a dish in its own right.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Kale

Kale (c)2011 LaDomestique.com


I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with kale in Autumn:

 

1.  Kale & Grains

Amongst inspiring photographs and personal stories in the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, you’ll find a nourishing recipe for Pearl Barley with Kale and Butternut Squash. The barley is sautéed with caramelized onions, carrots, celery, chile, and garlic, then the pan is deglazed with Guiness. Beef stock is added, then the mixture is simmered until the barley is tender. In the end the grains are tossed with roasted butternut squash and cooked kale. What a rich and warming dish for autumn!

2.  Kale Chips

Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn is a beautifully written book on how to cook for boys, and raise them into self-sufficient men. Lucinda aims to bring families together for meals, while covering the basics of setting up and running an efficient kitchen. One of her lessons, “Start them young on cooked greens,” includes a fun and easy recipe for kale chips. Simply toss pieces of Tuscan kale with olive oil, salt, and pepper then bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes (until crisp).

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Ingredient of the Week: Kale

Ingredient Of The Week: Kale (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

The ingredient of the week is inspired by cooler temperatures and the first frosts of autumn. Here in Colorado, it grows happily in our climate of dry, sunny days and chilly nights. Everywhere you look, in farmers markets and grocery stores, you’ll find this large, leafy green. This week at La Domestique is devoted to kale.

My love for kale was immediate and completely caught me off guard. This vegetable has depth and complexity of flavor while avoiding the pitfalls of other greens which can be bitter or slimy when cooked. Kale leaves are long and resemble the feathers of a grand bird. Like a peacock, its colors are intensely green and blue. In the early morning hours kale appears to glow in the garden, dew drops casting a silver tone to the wrinkled leaves. Kale is truly a beauty amongst the decaying summer flowers and brown, dried out zucchini vines.

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