Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

The Kale Challenge Day One

Written by Britta Barrett
Photos by Mike Wilkes

Kale: a hearty winter vegetable at breakfast, lunch, and dinner

With the New Year often comes a renewed commitment to eating well and making healthy choices. In years prior, I’ve made resolutions to radically transform the way I eat. I love giving my body the fuel it needs to thrive, and I feel pretty great eating a raw, vegan, gluten-free diet.

However, my overzealousness tended to wear off by the end of week 2 when I grew weary of cleaning the carrot bits out from my adorable but ineffective thrift store juicer and that taco truck near the museum was calling my name. This year, I’ve decided to set a more realistic goal for myself. I simply want to eat more local, organic produce and learn to cook some tasty new treats. I’m lucky that the University District farmer’s market in Seattle is open year-round. Every weekend this year, I’m checking to see what’s fresh and making at least one Sunday meal from scratch using my farmer’s market finds.

Since moving from Florida to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve missed perennially available mangos and avocados. I couldn’t grow a tomato here if my life depended on it! The first winter in Washington was dark, cold, rainy, and full of unfamiliar winter produce. What was I supposed to do with kohlrabi and Jerusalem artichokes? As a highly visual creature, it helped me to create a Pinterest boardto trick myself into remembering that cooking with fresh ingredients can be just as easy and delicious as ordering another night of take-out Thai and taro bubble tea. 

One winter vegetable I can always count on (in the garden or at the market) is kale—and this weekend it was on sale! The beautiful bunches were 3 for $5 and I just couldn’t resist. As a single lady in the city and on a budget, it’s easy to fill up my tiny fridge with well-intentioned produce but struggle to eat it all by the week's end. This week I challenged myself to put that kale to good use before it had a chance to wilt. I came up with four super simple and delicious recipes that use kale at every meal of the day. I will be sharing one recipe a day this week, starting with, unpredictably, dinner! Stay tuned for the rest!

Dinner: Kale Pesto & Spaghetti Squash 

I started in reverse by cooking dinner first because this dish takes the longest time in the oven (and I wanted to use those delicious roasted seeds in a subsequent recipe). 

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and then cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise. Be careful with that knife action. This is by far the most difficult part of this recipe.

Step 2:

Scrape out those gourd guts and set aside the seeds. Brush the insides of each squash with olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt and course pepper to taste.

Flavor the seeds to your liking. I tossed mine with sesame oil and shichimi, a Japanese spice for an Asian take on pepitas. 

Step 4:

Once your preheating process is complete, these tasty treats can go in the oven at the same time. Bake your squash for about an hour. The seeds only need about half the time. Remove from oven when they turn golden. Honestly, I don’t even mind mine a little burnt. The seeds are a great snack on their own but they also offer a crunchy texture and added protein to salads.

Step 5:

Now it’s time to create this beautiful pesto! Get out your food processor and the following ingredients:

• 1/4 cup pine nuts

• 1 bunch kale

• 3 cloves garlic

• juice from 1 lemon 

Combine ingredients in processor and slowly drizzle in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Chill until spaghetti squash is done baking. 

Step 6: 

After about an hour, take out your squash. When it’s ready, simply run a fork across it to create your vegetable pasta! It never ceases to amaze me how cool and delicious this is. Dress your veggie pasta with pesto. You can add some optional parmesan but it’s perfectly delicious dairy-free.

This recipe yielded enough for 7 servings which is awesome because I could eat this every day of the week!

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