One of the fun things about having a vegetable garden is growing plants you might never have tried, and this year I experimented with a type of heirloom kale called Red Russian Kale. Although this plant can be allowed to mature and eaten in ways similar to other varieties of kale, the seed package and several online sources recommended picking the leaves when they were small and eating them as salad greens. I did like the flavor of the raw kale, and going partly on instinct, I combined it with red cabbage, green onions, and a slightly chile-flavored dressing to make a colorful coleslaw I thought was just delicious. I realize lots of readers won’t have access to this variety of kale, but you can certainly make this salad with cabbage, and if you have a garden maybe it will inspire you to look for seeds for this heirloom kale next year.
My Red Russian Kale still seems to be thriving in the Utah heat, but apparently cold weather will make the plant more colorful, and it’s very hardy in the cold. The leaves are shaped like oak leaves, and the stems are smaller than other kale varieties. From a blogger in Denmark, I learned this plant is also called Ragged Jack. Apparently, there’s also a type of White Russian Kale. I’m not the only gardener who thinks this is a very attractive plant, as well as being tasty. Of course, the Red Russian Kale can also be cooked like other types of greens. I’ve tried it in two other recipes, and it’s been delicious each time. This recipe using a new-to-me plant is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, where this week the host is Kelly from Sounding My Barbaric Gulp. Don’t forget that new rules go into effect this week to make the focus of WHB on posts where people can learn about cooking with herbs or unusual plant ingredients. Here is how to send an entry if you’d like to participate.
Cut off the thin stems from the young leaves of red kale, then wash the kale and dry very well. To make thin strips for slaw, stack up a pile of kale leaves, and cut into strips about 1/4 inch wide.
Chop the red cabbage in the same way, then combine the kale and cabbage in a large plastic bowl.
Mix dressing ingredients, then stir in desired amount of dressing, until all the kale and cabbage leaves are slightly coated with dressing.
Red Russian Kale and Red Cabbage Slaw
(Makes about 4 servings, recipe created by Kalyn)
4 cups sliced Red Russian Kale strips (about 1 lb. kale leaves, sliced)
3 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 1/2 large head cabbage)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup mayo or light mayo (do not use fat free)
2 T white wine vinegar
1 T agave nectar, Splenda, or sugar (use agave nectar or Splenda for South Beach Diet)
1 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. Ancho Chile powder (or can use regular chile powder; I used Penzeys Ancho Chile Powder)
salt to taste (I used Vege-Sal)
If possible, use the young, smallest leaves of Red Russian Kale to make this salad. Cut off stems, then wash leaves and dry well. (I used a salad spinner to wash the leaves.) Stack leaves up on top of each other all going the same way, and use a large knife to cut into strips about 1/4 inch wide. Thinly slice cabbage, using a mandoline if you want really thin slices. Combine sliced cabbage and kale in plastic bowl. Thinly slice green onions and mix into greens.
Whisk together mayo, vinegar, agave nectar (or sweetener of your choice), celery seed, chile powder, and salt. Stir dressing into combined greens until all greens are lightly coated with dressing. (You may not need all the dressing, depending on how wet you like your salads.) Cover salad and chill for at least 30 minutes.
This salad will keep for a day in the refrigerator, but I thought it was best when freshly made.
Leafy greens are the most nutritious of all foods, and this recipe is good for any phase of the South Beach Diet, although South Beach would recommend using low-fat mayo and Splenda, especially for phase one.
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