Hip hip! I have an oven. And you can bet it’s had a pretty major workout in the past few days. Oh the simple, unadulterated joys of baking granola and roasting veggies – it will never get old.
This week I bought a gingantor bunch of purple kale from the biodynamic market and as my hands were getting pretty tired of massaging, I decided to go another route and roast those puppies. If there is anyone out there who hasn’t tried kale chips before, or kale for that matter, this dish is a must. This technique of baking or roasting kale turns a scary, rubbery leaves into thin, crisp, irresistible chips. I kid you not. And this dish gives you a reason to eat an entire plate of kale chips for dinner. How awesome can life get?
At the same market, I also found a neat little pile of horseradish roots and pretty beets, upon which a voice in my head said, “good idea”. So I took all three buddies home for a play date in my tummy.
Now, don’t be fooled by appearances. This salad may really only have two humble ingredients, but it is a whole lotta delicious. Sometimes combining just a couple seasonal elements in a simple way, allows each ingredient to shine without a lot of fuss. It’s easy, uncomplicated and just the kind of food I eat every day.
The textures and flavours of this dish are quite varied, and work together extremely well. The kale is light, crispy, almost lacy, and the beets are meaty, and deeply sweet. Then you get a decisive smack from the horseradish that breaks through the familiar only to end in a sweet suggestion of warm, mellow honey.
It should be emphasized that finding the freshest ingredients for this recipe is important. The idea in a dish like this is really to let the veggies do the talking with minimal intervention from you. So take a trip to the market, be discriminating, and say no to canned beets and frozen kale. Fresh only please – you will notice a difference.
Hot n’ Heavy Horseradish
It seems that most people are familiar with horseradish, but in a limited context. I know that I grew up with the bottled sauce version spooned beside of a hunk of roast meat, and that was about it. When I grew up and became a little more curious about food, I tried it fresh one day and fell entirely in love. Fresh horseradish is pungent, deeply heating and has this unbelievable kick that acts like a spark plug that ignites your tastebuds. It works well with many foods besides red meat. Try it grated onto fresh green peas in spring, or potatoes and celery root in winter.
Horseradish is part of the Brassica family, which includes kale, broccoli, cabbage and mustard. Wasabi also comes from this family of plants and once you taste fresh horseradish you will see why. That fantastic, sinus-clearing rush you get from wasabi paste or Dijon mustard comes from the glucosinolates (organic compounds) found in this group of plants.
These compounds are also responsible for the health benefits of horseradish, and studies are now looking into the cancer-fighting potential of glucosinolate. In addition, Horseradish is antibacterial and antiviral – a powerful ally to have on your side as we head in to the colder months.
Horseradish has been used as traditional medicine for centuries for aiding digestion. Horseradish increases appetite, while stimulating the release of enzymes to help break down your food.
After purchasing a horseradish root, keep it wrapped loosely in plastic in the crisper of the fridge, and only peel and grate as much as you need at a time. Once exposed to air, the flavour of horseradish changes rapidly, becoming bitter and unpleasant. If placed in vinegar however (like in a dressing) the taste and awesome heat will remain until it’s ready to use.
Roasted Kale and Beets with Honey-Horseradish Vinaigrette
1 bunch kale (about 12 leaves)
4 medium-sized beets (any kind – red, golden, striped, etc.)
melted coconut oil or ghee
flaky sea salt
handful of pumpkin seeds, if desired
Honey Horseradish Dressing
3 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
1 Tbsp. grated horseradish, plus more for garnish
1 tsp. raw honey (or maple syrup)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 pinches sea salt
1. Whisk all ingredients together.
1. Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C. Rinse and trim off ends of beets. Wrap in foil and place on a baking sheet and bake until you can easily pierce through the beets with a sharp knife (time depends greatly on size of beets, but around 60 minutes). Remove from oven and peel back a corner of the foil to let some of the steam out. When beets are cool enough to handle, slide the skins off.
2. Wash kale and spin entirely dry (otherwise the kale will just steam in the oven). Drizzle with a little oil and rub to coat each leaf, sprinkle with salt. When the beets are nearly done, place them on the lower shelf of the oven and put the kale chips on the middle to upper wrack. Bake until crisp – about 15 minutes.
3. Slice beets into any shape you desire – I chose thin discs to show their interior pattern, but quarters or cubes is fine too. Toss with a little of the dressing and set aside.
4. To assemble, place a few whole kale leaves on each plate, add dressed beets and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds if desired. Drizzle remaining dressing over the kale, and add more grated horseradish if you dare. Enjoy.