Autumn in August? Where I grew up it was still summer. I have disputed this fact for years but this year I must finally concede, as this autumn arrived at the beginning of August.
The apples are dropping from the trees, we’re tripping over beans and the kale is lush.
Today I cannot see further than the hedge, as we are wrapped in a ‘tropical’ mist. I’m not too sure who came up with that name but it’s warm and wet and making the weeds grow like crazy. The kale is loving it.
The kale has had five-star treatment this year. It’s one of our main crops, as we seem to be able to use infinite amounts in salads, tarts and soups.
We built a cage to protect the plants from the butterflies, whose eggs hatch into caterpillars, which decimate the crop the moment you take your eyes off it. It’s working really well, caterpillar-free, and the plants are healthy and intact
We grow three varieties; Red Russian – which has frondy red and green leaves, Asparagus Kale, which is big leafed and cabbage green and Cavolo di Nero, which has long dark blue green super crinkly leaves. They really are quite beautiful.
Although I like them all and we swop around which kale we use, Asparagus kale (from Brown Envelope Seeds) is my all-time favourite
Kale is right up there on my list of best veg to grow, as apart from their beauty and nutritional benefits, they are also a ‘pick and come again’ plant. Once the plants are established they need to be picked regularly to keep them from thinking their job is done.
We’ll be picking the kale through the winter. The growth does slow down with the colder weather and longer nights but it’ll chug its way through the winter and burst back in full production when there’s more daylight.
Here’s a recipe using our kale and apple glut.
It’s quite a loose recipe, the amounts depending on the size of the fruit and veg. Massaging the kale with dressing is an important step though and a little time to relax and marinate after is always a plus.
Kale and Apple Salad with Honey Toasted Almonds
For the almonds;
150g whole blanched almonds
1dsp olive oil
1tsp runny honey
1tsp tamari or soya sauce
Heat a small frying pan, add the olive oil and the blanched almonds then toss together. Keep the heat at medium and stir the almonds until they are golden brown. Take off the heat, add the honey and the tamari/soya sauce and toss until the almonds are coated. The heat of the pan will caramelise the honey and tamari/soya sauce. Tip onto a plate and leave to cool
For the salad:
15-20 kale leaves
2-3 eating apples
50mls olive oil
50mls cider vinegar
1 tsp tamari or soya sauce
1 tsp runny honey
Wash the kale and shake dry. Pull the leaves from the stems. Discard the stems and roll up the leaves, a few at a time, like a cigar then cut into fine ribbons with a sharp knife.
Whisk the olive oil, cider vinegar, tamari/soya sauce and honey together. Pour three quarters over the kale and massage the dressing into the leaves with you hands.
Leave aside for 15 minutes and repeat the massage.
Wash the apple, no need to peel. Cut the apple into quarters, remove the core and cut into little wedges. Toss the apple in the remaining dressing.
To assemble the salad put the kale in a shallow bowl then scatter the apples and almonds on top.
Yum. A bowl of autumn goodness!
Our Autumn Cooking programme is now available.
We’ll be kicking off with recipes from the Mediterranean, just in time to enjoy the last of the summer’s bounty. If you are interested please pop into the shop, phone or email me
Autumn greetings – although I have to admit I’m hoping for an Indian summer for September!
Lettercollum Kitchen Project
22, Connolly Street, Clonakilty