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Honoring Farms– Farm-Fresh Winter Salad

January 1, 2012

“If you tickle the earth with a hoe she laughs with a harvest.”   
                                                                                           – Douglas William Jerrold

I have an affinity for farms.  And being fortunate enough to have a few around us, I take advantage of them often.  I love visiting these farms and enjoying the serenity that surrounds them.  For me, walking through the fields of fresh salad leaves or seasonal vegetables is a joyful experience.  It’s amazing to see what nature and earth together can reward us with.

Apart from the beauty of nature and generosity of earth, these fields tell us stories of people who work there tirelessly.  Producing nature’s abundance from tiny seeds is the result of their labor.  And that’s something I respect deeply.

Yesterday on my visit to a neighborhood farm stand, I got tempted to bring home a very attractive bunch of kale and a head of crisp fennel.  They spoke to me at first sight.  On my way back, I was contemplating whether to cook kale and roast fennel or enjoy them raw. What a dilemma!

But after enjoying decadent treats during the holiday season, a hearty salad seemed like a good idea– welcome new year with a healthy choice!  Moreover, glorious health benefits of the mighty kale made it even a stronger candidate for a nutritious meal.

Finally, the verdict was to combine kale and fennel with gorgeous carrots.  Add a few slices of a juicy orange.  Toss in a citrus vinaigrette, garnish with almonds, raisins, and roasted sunflower seeds.  And there it was– a plate full of farm-fresh adventure.  I couldn’t be happier.

Kale:  A Powerhouse of Nutrition

Kale is an exceptionally nutritious vegetable known for its health benefits and has delicious earthy flavor.  Even though it is available in markets throughout the year, it’s in season from mid-winter to mid-spring.  Look for dark green leaves and moist hardy stems.


I love cooking these curly leaves in soups and stews.  Add them to pastas or noodles for a healthy dose, or enjoy them in fresh salads.  They never disappoint me.  Kale chips are another option which I have yet to try.  Some call kale the king of vegetables, and some call it a powerhouse of nutrition.  I call it simply delicious!

Recipe

Dressing
2 tablespoons canola oil or light olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon honey
a pinch of ground cumin
a pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Salad
2 cups kale, shredded
1 cup fennel, shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 orange, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon almonds, chopped
1 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon roasted sunflower seeds

In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients  for the dressing.   Set aside.

Combine kale, fennel, carrots, and orange in a large bowl.  Add the dressing and toss gently.  Mix in almonds, raisins and sunflower seeds, keeping a few of each for garnish.

Serve the salad garnished with almonds, raisins, and sunflower seeds.

Enjoy the bounty of farms!

May you celebrate and enjoy the simple pleasures of life in the coming year.

Happy New Year

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