Green Garnish Salad

Parsley, kale and chives--the rejects of the vegetable world. Historically relegated to adding a touch of green to many a carnivore’s plate, to be picked off in disgust or left to wilt, the only sad scrap left of a former meal, they are also some of the most nutrient-packed forms of sustenance you can find out there. 

They’re my garden’s most ample producers in these early summer days, so this has become my staple salad, snipped, rinsed, and coated with lemon juice, olive, oil, salt and pepper. Simple, tasty and healthy. 

1 cup (67g) kale
10 sprigs parsley (10g)
handful of chives (10g)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
sea salt, 
garlic powder, 

Gather your greens from the garden into a bowl. They are all cut-and-come-again, meaning you take a little and the plants keep growing. The kale should snap off the main stalk easily. Take the lowest leaves and work your way up. For the chives and parsley, grab a handful and snip off the base. Fill the bowl with water, swish it around and let the dirt settle to the bottom. After a minute or two, take the greens out and let them dry on a cutting board, or wrap them in a damp towel and put them in the fridge for later.

Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice, and add salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne to taste in a large bowl. Tear the kale off of it’s stalks and rip it into bite-sized pieces. Prick the parsley off of its stems and chop the chives. Throw the greens in the bowl with the dressing and toss gently until coated. Taste and add more seasoning if it needs it. 

I added cold leftover grilled salmon and a dollop of Greek yogurt on top for a healthy summer dinner.

It’s also easy to make yummy kale chips. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, lay kale leaves on a sheet pan in one layer, and drizzle olive oil over them. Turn them over and rub them around to coat both sides and sprinkle with sea salt. Cook them in the oven until they get crispy. Keep an eye on them because it only takes a few minutes, and they burn easily.

Kale is hearty, crunchy and a bit nutty in flavor. It’s a brassica, related to broccoli and cabbage. I planted mine out as seedlings in late April, and it’s been healthy and consistent through snowstorms, hail, gale-force wind and now intense heat. It is a cool-weather crop, and since it warmed up I’ve noticed its growth has slowed.

The parsley and chives were sad little plants in my winter windowsill herb garden. They both went bonkers as soon as I planted them out, happily doubling and tripling in size, despite the weird weather (it snowed on June 1). They add a fresh herby flavor to the salad.

I’m thankful that these nutritious plants have been hearty enough to survive Nevada weather, and provide me with a tasty salad almost every night. It’s almost time to pull all my brassicas for the summer, but kale will definitely have a place in my autumn garden.

So the next time you’re served a dish with one little sprig of parsley or piece of kale, you can be pretty sure that it’s one of the most healthy and nutritious items on your plate. Not bad for a garnish!

This recipe was submitted to the blogging event Grow Your Own.

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