Monday, June 22, 2009

Live Nude Veggies

This little number is one vegetarian dish that has enough POW to substitute for 4th of July fireworks. It is always a pleasure to discover something we may not have stumbled into on our own and this was the case with the raw kale salad you see here, sandwiched between the red and orange. 

We were doing some work with Northshore health guru, Dena Mendes, a cyclone of information, advice and energy, when she introduced us to raw kale gone wild. So let's break this one down, starting with the Kale:

We start with a bunch of curly or lacinato kale (aka tuscan or dino or cavalo nero), cleaned well, thick woody part of stems removed. The leaves are chopped into 1 to 2 inch pieces, tossed into the food processor and pulsed...not too much though, we don't want raw kale soup this time, although that sounds like something to investigate..... Next we add some grated parmesan, pecorino or grana padano cheese, dried cherries cut into smaller pieces...the little bits of cherries are a smattering of tart deliciousness in a sea of green. The third balancing agent is nuts--pine nuts, walnuts or pecans are great. Now we drizzle on some raw olive oil, lemon juice and zest and pulse another time or two and we have the raw kale salad. We love it on its own, but with its cohorts in this case, any dabbler in veggie love will be quite pleased.

Mashed roasted beets form the lovely red pillow the kale is resting upon. We peel and dice raw beets, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, mix in some sliced garlic, wrap it all up in a foil packet and pop it in the oven where it steam/roasts until sufficiently soft. Next the contents are emptied into a bowl for the mashing...a hand-held potato masher will do the trick.

On top the very stunning display is carrot, stripped with a veggie peeler and fried until golden in olive oil. It is crunchy, tasty, flashy and fun. You will love it like we love it, I have no doubt!

The final, but crucial ingredient  is the jalepeno vinaigrette dressing the perimeter of the plate. Trust me, this is not just for looks. It is a flavor enhancer that seems to work well with almost anything....It makes a dish POP! Jalepenos are minced...seeds and ribs can be left in or omitted depending on your spice tolerance. They go into the mixing bowl along with a clove of raw garlic also minced and a pinch of kosher or sea salt. Mash up a little, add some fresh lime juice, give it all a good stir and drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil while whisking.  This dressing becomes silky quite easily due to something in the jalepeno, which is part of the magic. If you make this, try drizzling it over any dish that needs a little waking up. When we first discovered it, we put it on everything but the breakfast cereal.

Earthy sweet beets, bitter-green kale, crunchy-sweet fried carrots and tart/spicy jalepeno vinaigrette. Its flavors keep pace with its fetching looks and it is win-win on the health front, too. I have yet to see someone levitate right after eating this, but we know it is possible, any day now! If you make this and find yourself floating, please tell us about your experience!