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all hail to the kale

by Arlene Krasner

It is almost the end of summer. And it has been quite a summer in Portland – we’ve had hotter weather than I can ever remember. Now our days alternate between late summer hot and almost autumn cool.

There are only a few weeks left of my CSA baskets.  I’m receiving lots of eggplant, the last of the great tomatoes (which I will miss), and beets.  I will be sad when the market baskets stop coming as it has been a wonderful experience. The CSA introduced me to new foods and I learned how to cook familiar veggies in new and creative ways. Writing this weekly column has kept me on my toes and in the kitchen.

Chard and Kale are now coming into season, and on the cool days we’re having, I like to make pasta with these greens. See the recipe for Hai to Kale at the end of this article.

On the hot days, I like to celebrate the heat and my new found love of cucumbers, see the recipe below for Cucumber Fresco, a refreshing and healthy drink from Mexico.

But all good things must end and so must these articles. This is my last CSA column. I’ve enjoyed writing and cooking this summer.

I would like to thank Patricia Rau for sharing the market basket with me and taking the farm photos. I would also like to thank Jim Agin for the wonderful veggie photos.

Cucumber Agua Fresca (Agua Fresca de Pepino)

Agua fresca is water flavored with a variety of ingredients, such as hibiscus flowers, melons, and cucumbers. The list is limited only by imagination and access to ingredients. This version uses cucumbers, which are readily available.

3 – 4 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
½ cup fresh lime juice
4 cups cold water
¼ to ½ sugar, to taste

Combine half the ingredients in a blender. Blend until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth, yet slushy.  Pour mixture into a pitcher. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients and add to the pitcher.

You can serve over ice cubes, or as is. This should be served cold.

Hail to Kale Pasta

Despite its name, you can substitute chard for the kale in this recipe. You can also make this without the pasta; the kale mixture is great mixed with scrambled eggs.  This recipe serves 2 – 3 as a main course or 4 -6 as a first course.

3 ounces pancetta, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound lacinato kale, large center ribs and stems removed, cut into ½ inch slices
½ pound whole wheat penne rigate pasta
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly brown. Add the onions and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until onions are brown, about 4 minutes. Add kale and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss until wilted. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Add water – by teaspoons – if dry.

In the meantime, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve ¼ cup pasta water.

Add pasta to kale mixture and toss. Add lemon juice and a couple of tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Toss and add more pasta water if needed.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and pine nuts and serve. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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