You know Kale! Hey, Everyone talks about kale as the hottest since, well,... ever. This leafy vegetable reached celebrity status around 2012 when Bonappettite magazine named "The year of Kale". and the United States declared "National kale Day" on October 2, 2013. Kale displaced any other form of greens in soups, salads, pesto, and cooked vegetables and even showed up in pre-packaged snacks at the grocery aisles. 9 years later, kale is still in the front line, and you're still loving it as much as I do!
Sweet Potatoes began their ascension in the 2000s for one big reason: The fad diet. This hearty sweet potato is Godsend to the Paleo diet, South Beach, or Atkins diet. Their hundreds and thousands of followers touted it as a superfood. Hungry people including me and maybe you too, health-conscious eaters, and local foodies all add up in these factors.
Tarragon has long been prized for its aromatic leaves. One of the herbs used in the classic fine herbs blend is a mainstay of French cuisine.
"French tarragon is actually Thomas Jefferson's (the third president of the United States) favorite culinary herb and tarragon vinegar was used to dress his salad." The Jefferson Monticello
Why the joy of kale, sweet potatoes and tarragon?
Choices of food ingredients and complex flavors do more than just excite our taste buds.
- Kale's nutrients richness stands out in the three particular areas:1
- Antioxidant nutrients
- Anti-inflammatory nutrients
- Anti-cancer nutrients in the form of glucosinolates
Aside from eating the kale raw, it can withstand all types of cooking from boiling, braising, steaming, microwaving and, stir-frying.
2. Sweet potatoes, aside from their vitamins and minerals stand out from their researched phytochemical profile such as2
- Sweet potatoes with purple flesh are richer in anthocyanins.
- sweet potatoes with orange flesh are the richest in Beta-carotene.
Sweet potatoes are the darling of any local, farm-to-table eating movement because of their accessibility all year round. It is easy to cook and pair with any Mushroom and ground pork garam masala stirfry with roasted sweet potatoes.
3. Tarragon, the peppery and slightly anise-tasting with its citrus-woodsy undertone is found in any kitchen. Among other things, tarragon act as a "free radical scavenger", helping the body to eliminate those harmful by-products of metabolism3
Seventeenth-century diarist and gardener John Evelyn said in tarragon. "Tis highly cordial and friendly to head, heart, and liver".
How to prepare kale for a salad?
Preparing kale for salad is the same as making a regular salad. Except, kale needs a little attention. Tuscan and curly are the most popular kinds of kale but they have different characteristics.
Curly kale has a harder and stronger texture. After you strip the outer leaves from their center vein - chop, drizzle with a little olive oil, and toss while giving a gentle massage. This step is necessary to soften the leaves. Also, I highly recommend letting it sit for a little bit before serving to develop a more pronounced flavor and feathery texture of kale.
Tuscan kale has softer leaves and a lighter flavor that doesn't need a massage but you should give it some time to sit after you coat it with any kind of dressing, the salt and acid will help to soften it a little more.
Kale shines in so many ways such as Kale and pepitas pesto.
Do you peel the potatoes and how long to roast the potatoes?
Peeling the sweet potatoes or leaving the skin on is your personal preference. But for this recipe, I suggest peeling the potatoes for a better texture.
These sweet potatoes are diced into ½ inch cubes and at 425F, it will take 15 to 20 minutes to cook, tossing halfway through.
Using a pestle and mortar for grinding
Having a mortar and pestle with a rough texture around the inner bowl is a useful tool to have, if you've graduated beyond pre-packaged spices, and you're ready to grind your own. A larger size mortar is a preference because You can grind any amount you have, but a small mortar works well too. Dried and raw herbs and spices, nuts or seeds when placed in the mortar then crushed and burst with the pestle, releasing their oil and fresh flavor will make a big difference.
using the mortar and pestle to grind is an ideal technique. I use it mostly to grind dried herbs and spices for my preferred texture and more pronounced flavor. Also, it is great to muddle fresh herbs and spices to release their oil and burst their fragrance with the help of coarse salt or peppercorns.
- Place your ingredients in the mortar and hold them in place with one hand.
- With your other hand gripping the pestle comfortably, press the pestle down into the ingredients, and roll against the mortar while applying firm pressure until you get your preferred consistency.
That said when the kale is treated properly, it will lend a delicate, feathery texture to a salad with a grassy, and peppery bite while those wrinkly edges make for a dramatic presentation especially when you use the curly ones. Combine it with soft and tender roasted sweet potatoes, and dress it with the highly aromatic and subtle licorice- flavor tarragon vinaigrette, Can you taste it? It is bright, peppery, robust, sweet, and fragrant.
Joy of Kale and sweet potato salad with tarragon vinaigrette
- Mixing bowl
- 3 cups Sweet potatoes, cubed (½ inch cube)
- 2 tablespoon Coconut oil, melted or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon Caraway seeds (optional)
- 2 tablespoon Honey (optional)
- 4 cups Curly kale, chopped (packed)
- 2 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup Red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup Sunflower seeds, raw(or roasted)
- 4 tablespoon White wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Honey (or more)
- 1 tablespoon Peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon Coarse salt
- ¼ cup Tarragon leaves, fully packed (about 5 stems)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prepare the sweet potatoes
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil, honey, and caraway seeds, whisk to combine. Pour into the bowl of cubed sweet potatoes and toss to coat thoroughly. Transfer into the prepared baking sheet and place at the lower third of the oven rack. Roast for 15- 20 minutes tossing halfway through. Sweet potatoes should be tender but not mushy. Take it out from the oven.
Prepare the kale
- In a large mixing, add the chopped kale and drizzle the olive oil. Toss using your clean hands as you give a gentle massage just to soften the kale.
Make the vinaigrette dressing
- Using pestle and mortar: Add peppercorns, coarse salt, and tarragon into the mortar. Roll the pestle across the salt and peppercorns with a firm grip applying pressure against the mortar until they crush and burst into smaller pieces. Continue rolling while incorporating the tarragon until they are crushed and muddled but leaving some tarragon pieces visible.
- Place all the ingredients in a lidded jar including the tarragon paste and shake vigorously to fully incorporate all the ingredients. Taste and taste again, make adjustments according to your preference.
- Put the prepared kale, roasted and still warm sweet potatoes, and red onions in a serving bowl. Pour the dressing and toss. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge or countertop for at least 10-30 minutes to develop an extra delicious flavor. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds before serving.
- You don't have pestle and mortar, use the side of your knife to muddle the tarragon as you incorporate freshly ground pepper and fine salt instead.
- If you're using Tuscan kale, skip the gentle massage except let it rest for at least 30 minutes. The longer it stays, the vinaigrette dressing will soften the kale leaves.
- Any dressed leftovers can still hold for the next day, cover and keep in the fridge.
- coarse salt is great for grinding herbs and
Reference 3 - Nationational Geographic, Complete guide to herbs and spice