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The Apple Orchard
“And if there’s a good apple–a crisp apple–bring that too.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Trees slouch with ripe apples; robust shadows lumber across the orchard. Loyal companions throughout the year. Stoic friends in the rain and cold, staunchly facing the summer sun, giggling and whispering in the wind, patient listeners as their leaves glisten in the fog. At the banquet of autumn apples are an unwavering delight at Everett Family Farm. Flush with fruit, the trees don’t seem to mind my photos as I capture a slice of life in the apple orchard.
My first trip to Everett Family Farm’s apple orchard was in spring. Leaves and blossoms were peaking out of the branches that had been drenched in winter’s rain but now awakened to the soft spring light. I returned at the time of harvest when the tree branches were all but hidden by the outburst of ripe apples. Masses of color from scarlet to gold the Honey Crisp, Gala, Gravensteins, Newtown Pippins, Winesap and Roxbury Russets are a few of the varieties grown in the Soquel, California orchard. Find these organically grown beauties at the Everett Family Farm farm stand or local farmers’ markets. The apple cider made at the farm is exceptional. Fresh and crisp, savor the intense apple flavor as it lingers, reminiscent of the long shadows on an autumn afternoon.
I’m late to the kale party. You know, the “massaging” your kale salad. The recommendation to massage the kale for 5 minutes is hilarious! There is no way I have enough patience to massage the greens in my salad for 5 minutes. I suggest a minute or so; just enough time to coat all the kale with the dressing. We have lives to live, we are busy. Making a healthy salad should not be an hour long project. Everyone is hungry, lets get dinner on the table already! It’s time to make a kale salad that gets eaten because it tastes great as well as being nutritious.
Most importantly, pick kale this is very, very fresh and doesn’t have thick tough, dry leaves. Unless you really like massaging kale leaves huge thick leaves of kale are best eaten when cooked first. I follow Sara of Sprouted Kitchen’s recommendation to lighten my kale salads. All my kale salads are half kale and half romaine lettuce: one bunch of kale and one large head of romaine. An added benefit of using half romaine lettuce is now my salad doesn’t look like a dark foreboding evergreen forest on a plate. I tried to like tahini massaged into my evergreen forest salad. Between the kale and the tahini there was just too much bitterness. Raw kale needs a lighter touch, and crunch and salt and a hint of sweetness. Instead of tahini I chose cashew butter but almond butter or even peanut butter would be exciting choices for dressing the kale and romaine. I made my own cashew butter but there are excellent brands at most grocery stores. The recipe for the cashew butter is scaled for processing. It makes more cashew butter than is needed for the salad. Any remaining cashew butter should be kept in the refrigerator and is excellent on toast or crackers. Use cashew butter just like peanut butter. A favorite afternoon snack are slices of crisp apple with a dollop of cashew butter. A flurry of chopped nuts now populates my evergreen forest salad. Sweet and crisp apples, minced shallots and dried cranberries also found a home in my kale forest. My evergreen forest salad has lost it’s dreary personality. Everyone is happy to place big scoops on kale salad on their dinner plates. An added bonus is this salad holds well in the refrigerator. Which makes it an easy fix for lunch the next day.
|Roasted Cashew Butter|
|1/2t||fine grain sea salt|
|2/3C||grape seed or avocado oil|
|Cashew Butter Dressing|
|1/2t||fine grain sea salt|
|2T||fresh lemon juice|
|Kale and Apple Salad|
|2||sweet tart crisp apples, such as Honey Crisp or Gala|
|1 head||romaine lettuce|
|1T||finely minced shallot or red onion|
|1/2C||chopped dry roasted salted cashews|
- To make the cashew butter heat the oven to 350°. Toast the cashews for 10-15 minutes until they become fragrant and turn from creamy white to golden brown. Stir them after 7 minutes and watch them carefully so they do not burn. Cool to room temperature and then place them along with the salt in a food processor, blender or Vitamix and process until they are pulverized. Remove the feed tube of the food processor or cap from the blender or Vitamix and slowly pour in the oil. Process until all the oil is incorporated with the ground nuts and the cashew butter is of uniform consistency.
- To make the dressing in the bowl of the food processor, blender or Vitamix add 1/2 cup cashew butter, salt, lemon juice and the warm water. Process until throughly combined and of uniform consistency.
- Thinly slice the apple. Place the sliced apple in a small bowl with the juice of a lemon and enough water to cover completely. Drain the apple slices just before mixing the salad ingredients together.
- Clean and dry the kale and remove the thick center ribs. Stack the leaves together and slice into ribbons no wider than 1/2”. Place the kale in a large bowl with the cashew dressing. With your hands massage the dressing into the kale. My patience only allows for a minute or so of kale pampering but do make sure all the kale is separated and coated with dressing. The kale will become shiny and reduced in volume while losing some of its bitterness.
- Clean and dry the romaine and remove the largest of the center ribs. Stack the leaves together and slice into ribbons no wider than 1/2”. The kale and romaine should be the same width. Add the romaine to the kale and mix together with your hands. Do not massage but instead break up the kale and mix in the romaine. Add the apples, shallots, dried cranberries and cashews to the salad. Toss to combine and serve.