Kale-Beet-Kasha Salad

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During this pseudo-winter in the San Diego version of February, we’ve been experiencing Santa Ana winds and temperatures in the 80’s this week while my daughter has had college classes cancelled in Boston with the terrific snowstorms. On either coast, however, in either extreme weather system, you can enjoy this hearty, healthy winter salad that makes use of organic lacinato kale, beets, roasted buckwheat, and walnuts.

A note about buckwheat groats. When the groat is roasted, it is referred to as “kasha” which is what I’m using in this recipe. Buckwheat is an easily-digested, fiber-rich, gluten free seed related to rhubarb and sorrel. The little pyramid-shaped buckwheat groat contains myriad health benefits.

Listen: Try Rosanne Cash’s 2014 The River & The Thread album, especially “A Feather’s Not a Bird” and see if you, too, can “learn to love the thread.” You’ll be dancing in your bare feet in San Diego or your wooly socks in Boston, and loving the poetry.

Sip: You may like a bit of California summertime to complement the earthy winter salad. I recommend a lovely rose, the 2013 Vin Gris de Cigare, from the Bonny Doon winery. The folks at Bonny Doon describe it this way: “Deliciously dry, pale, and utterly complex. Subtle aromas of grapfruit, strawberry, lavender and a rich, creamy texture.”

For the salad, you’ll need
1 bunch of lacinato kale, rinsed, stemmed, and sliced crosswise in thin slivers
2-4 beets, red or gold, stemmed, stemmed, chopped, and roasted
1-2 cups of cooked kasha, depending how much grain you’d like and how many people you’d like to feed
1/2 cup of walnut pieces, soaked (optional), toasted, and chopped (If you’re interested in soaking, plan ahead!)*

For the dressing, you’ll need
1/2 cup Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup olive oil

  1. *Begin in the morning or the night before you want to prepare the salad, if you’d like to soak the walnuts. The soaking makes them much easier for your body to digest. I put them in a small container that has a lid, cover them with water, and put the lid on. Soak for a minimum of four hours or overnight. If you don’t want to soak the walnuts, you’ll pick them up again in step six.
  2. Prehat the oven to 400 degrees. While it heats, stem, peel, and chop the beets into bite-sized slices. (If the beets still have their greens attached, then great! Use these mixed in with the kale for the salad base.) Spread a piece of foil on a cooking sheet, and pour the beets slices on. Rub the slices with some olive oil to lightly coat them. Cove the beets with another piece of foil and crimp the edges to seal. When the oven reaches 400 degrees, roast your beets for 20-30 minutes until they’re tender. They should be easy to pierce with fork or knife.IMG_1064
  3. While the beets roast, prep the dressing and kale. For this very basic dressing, put the vinegar and salt and pepper in your blender. (Add other seasonings if you’d like.) Blend to combine well, then drizzle in the oil until the dressing emulsifies. You’ll have dressing remaning from this recipe to use for more “salad days.”
  4. Rinse, stem (remove the rib), and slice the kale crosswise into thin slivers. Some people think kale is tough, and I think this may be because they’ve eaten larger pieces that haven’t been massaged or allowed to sit with a bit of oil for awhile. Try this preparation method, and the kale will be delicious. Place the slivered kale in a salad bowl and pour some of the dressing over it–one or two tablespoons should do it. Massage the kale (and beet greens if you’ve added them) lightly with the dressing until the greens are lightly coated. Let sit at room temperature while you continue the preparation.
  5. Prepare the kasha by following directions on the back of the box or bag. I like Bob’s Red Mill. The cooking process takes about 15 minutes, and then you’ll need to allow it to cool for awhile as well. You’ll have kasha remaining from this recipe to eat as breakfast cereal or for a dinner main course or side dish.
  6. While the kasha steams, drain the walnuts if you’ve soaked them, then toast them lightly. If you didn’t soak, just proceed. Spread them on a piece of foil, set them in your toaster oven on the toast setting for 3 minutes or so. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Allow them to cool. Chop into smaller pieces if you like.
  7. Combine the delectable ingredients by adding the beets, one or two cups of kasha to the greens and tossing. Taste and adjust the dressing and salt and pepper. Sprinkle the walnuts on top.
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