By Lari Robling - April 18th, 2012
High Tunnel farming caught my eye because its extended growing season adds to the amount of local produce we get. While farm manager Aviva Asher was tidying up the winter crop to make way for spring, I discovered another benefit of local growing: use what you’ve got.
The warmer weather caused the winter kale to bolt – sending up flowers and setting seeds ending the production of the plant. Turns out, these little buds and tender stems also make good eating so I went home with a bag of what I think will be the next big thing in the world of kale (which lately has been pretty big).
Of course, the obvious thing is to make a raw salad. Unlike kale, which I find a little on the bitter side, the buds are sweet. The kale stem adds a touch of bitterness as well as some crunch. All it needs is a bed of romaine, some roasted cherry tomatoes and a few slices of fresh mozzarella. To dress, splash on a touch of aged sherry vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
A little more difficult to envision than a salad was this new green cooked. It works, though, if the small tender stalks are lightly steamed and then sautéed in some garlic and olive oil – not unlike what you would do with kale leaves. Reserve a few flowers for garnish and serve over pasta or spinach ravioli.
So, if you start seeing kale buds on restaurant menus, remember you saw it first here!