Entrée, Fall, Winter



I typically work on Saturdays, but this past weekend I had the day to myself. The only plan I made was to get up to the farmers market and stop by my grandma's on the way home. I like going to the market alone. I can watch, listen, feel, observe without keeping a conversation or trying to hurry. I collected bags of greens, citrus, deliciously crispy and crazy expensive apples, lots of herbs - my usual loot. Weaving through the people, I swear that every passed mumur was about kale. If that market was any indication, the hype is not passing yet. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the word 'kale', I would have bought more of those apples. So, since I like it, and the general public is still pumped on the dark leafy green, I pulled this recipe from the new Deborah Madison cookbook, Vegetable Literacy, coming out in a few weeks.

The book is serious. It is serious in the beautiful way that the author is comitted to and passionate about her subject. The book is hearty in size (certainly no shortage of information there) and the recipes are quite simple while still offering something unique. The book is divided by broad families of vegetable, and through text and recipes, shows how herbs and complimenting vegetables pair well or can be used interchangably. Heidi wrote a perfect description here. Madison has a long standing reputation in vegetarian cooking, and this book stands as further reference that the woman knows her plant based foods. The front flap says "a masterwork from America's leading authority on vegetarian cooking" - that's really all the introduction it needs.

This recipe comes in two parts in the book. First, I ran across the suggestion in the chapter involving buckwheat, seeing as soba noodles are made of buckwheat flour (at least in part). The recipe suggested tossing the noodles with the kale and slivered brussel sprout salad written in the cabbage family chapter. The thing about me and noodles, is that I like my vegetable:noodle ratio 2:1. I basically like a little bit of noodle in my salad. So when the recipe hinged on the salad recipe that you then toss with noodles, it sounded like I could have exactly what I wanted. The salad on its own is perfect, the addition of noodles classify it as a meal, either way this is a wonderful, quick dish.



Recipe adapted from Deborah Madison:Vegetable Literacy

The recipe originally calls for 4 brussels, but I wanted to finish up the bunch I had. I ended up using around 10 and discarding the tough core. There is enough dressing to bulk up the greens here, so the recipe below reflects that change. 

  • 1 bunch tuscan kale
  • 5 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 10 brussels sprouts
  • 1 plump clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (white or black)
  • 2 pinches red pepper flakes
  • 4-8 oz. soba noodles
  • 4 slivered green onions, for garnish

Slice the kale leaves from their stems and discard the stems. Working in batches, stack the leaves, roll them up tightly lengthwise, and then thinly slice them crosswise into narrow ribbons. Put the ribbons in a large bowl with 1 tsp. of the sesame oil and 1/4 tsp. salt. Massage the leaves with your hands until they glisten.

Discard any funky outer leaves from the brussels sprouts. Slice them paper thin (mandoline works best) then toss them with the kale.

Pound the garlic until smooth in a small mortar (I used a bowl and minced the garlic fine). Stir in the vinegar, remaining sesame oil and soy sauce. Pour the dressing over the greens and toss well. This much can be done in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to serve, or enjoyed alone as a salad.

Bring the water to a boil. When starting the noodles, finish the salad with the sesame seeds, pepper flakes and green onions. Cook the noodles according to package instructions and drain well. Toss the noodles with the greens. The noodle salad can be served warm or cold.