Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eat Your Greens

A while back my friend Meghann posted this as her facebook status:

"Someday, I'm sure my children will be shocked to find out not every Mom put Kale in everything."

It made me giggle because, as a CSA farmer, the question I most frequently receive from members is "What do I do with all of this kale?" or chard, mizuna, arugula, escarole, sorrel, or whichever green things are being tucked into the shares that particular week. I have a hard time not responding with this simple statement: Eat it.

Chard growing in the morning light.
CSA fields tend to be a bit messier than home gardens,
but we still manage to grow the good stuff!

That isn't meant to be flippant. It's just that, well, that's what I do with it. In my house we munch on raw greens just because they're there, make them into salads, and add them to at least half of the dinners we cook. In fact, my family and I like greens so much that I get kind of sad when winter comes and the greens stop growing. So, not only do I eat my greens, I dry kale and chard so that I can eat even more of them later.

I know that the kale chip, oiled and seasoned kale dried for snacking, is pretty hot right now, and those are good, but I am talking about simply drying greens so that they can be added to dishes during the off season.

It is an easy process, and now is the time of year to do it. 

 I use an electric dehydrator, though you could just as easily use your stove or a solar dehydrator. We use what we have - even if it isn't the most efficient option. A solar dehydrator is certainly on our wish list...

Cut or tear the greens into small pieces and lay them out on the dehydrator tray. Space them evenly, so that they are not touching.

Dry them overnight on the lowest setting. When they are done they will look pretty much they same as they did when you started, just a little duller and more velvety, and they will be crisp.

Well dried Kale.

Crisp Rainbow Chard.

Pack the dried greens into jars, close the jars tightly, and the greens will keep all winter long.

Dried kale, ready for a season of storage.
Now that you have dried your greens, you may be left with that lingering question. "What do I do with all of this (dried) kale?" Once again, my answer is simple: Eat it.

The recipe below is almost as easy as the drying itself. It makes a hearty breakfast, a satisfying lunch, or a comforting low key dinner. It really just depends on how you look at things. You can also throw a handful of the dried greens into many of your standard dishes. I suggest starting with spaghetti sauce. Once you see how tasty that is, go from there. Be extremely creative.

This can also be made with one or two leaves of fresh kale or chard cut into bite sized pieces.

Oatmeal with Dried Greens, Chicken Stock, and Root Vegetables

  • One cup steel cut oats 
  • One cup thinly cut root vegetables - I used carrots for this version because our neighbor had dropped a bunch off for us (look how huge!). Celeriac and parsnips are also divine here.
  • 1/2 cup crumbled dried kale or chard, plus more for serving
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock -  Vegetable stock or water works too if you want to go vegetarian.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bring the stock or water to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir in all of the other ingredients.
  3. Turn the heat down to simmer, cover the pot, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the oatmeal is fully cooked. Cooking time will vary depending on the oats and your personal texture preferences. 
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Spoon the oatmeal into serving bowls and top with additional crumbled dried greens.

It may not be that photogenic, but it is highly tasty and oh so comforting.


  1. I hear you! We have some Bok Choi that is just now ready... My daughter tried some for the first time and "ooh I love Bok Choi Daddy!" Great I said, make sure and tell your grandma and grandpa! After a few days with the non-organic cousins though, all she want's is chocolate milk and candy... it takes about 72 hrs to burn out of her system.

  2. Yeah, some of our family thinks we're kind of nuts for avoiding processed food and sugar with our 13 month old, but it pays off when she begs to eat fish and eggplant instead of candy. You can't always so no to cookies from Grandma though!

  3. Oh my god! I totally agree with your statement about your baby not knowing there isn't kale in everything. It's one of my favorite ingredients and we feed it to our little one all the time. Lots of quinoa, too. I want her to love great food. I can't wait to try drying kale.

  4. thank you ! I am going to make plain ol' dried kale right now. We keep our kale growing all summer out here in Northern California mountains, even though it gets so hot, lots of water and real deep root zone... I made kale chips the first time twice now, but this will need some fine tuning for long term storage, as not all things that you add to make the kale chips actually store that well it seems. I suspect that olive oil does not add to longevity, but coconut oil does, not quite sure yet if that is correct. But, with simple dried kale things will be much easier! So, thank you again.
    Sarah of Lake County

    1. P.S.
      my daughter grew up in the garden with the notion that KALE is actually a staple. (which it was in our case)
      We Never brought a single vegetable in the store, and when there were no other vegetables available in our garden for the table there was always kale on the hoof, winter, spring, summer and fall... there is nothing like a good serving of Kale to make just about any meal more palatable. Of course you have to understand kale to use it this way. But, it is my favorite vegetable for sure!

  5. Sarah, I'm glad this was helpful for you! I find it so nice to have jars of dried kale on hand all winter long :)

    As for the chip issue, I know a few people that season their kale before drying it by soaking it in salted lemon water. I'm sure you could add some amount of other flavorings to this before dehydrating. Maybe that would make for a satisfying chip without hindering storage.