With more vitamin C than an orange and more calcium than a glass of milk, there’s a reason kale is known as the “queen of greens.” But one of the very best things about kale is that it grows really well here in upstate New York. It is one of the rare vegetables that survives frost -- and even tastes sweeter afterwards.

Though you might already have tried your hand at fall recipes with kale (roast beets and goat cheese, anyone?), for a really fresh taste, early spring is the best time to get your kale on. Spring kale has a far more delicate flavor than mature kale, which makes it perfect for a hearty salad.

In early spring, baby kale is available locally at places like Lucky Dog Farm in Hamden or Pepacton Natural Foods in Roscoe. It tastes like baby spinach, but has more texture. Just put it together with some roasted carrots and pumpkin seeds and you’ll have a standout spring salad. But the real secret to this cruciferous concoction is a refreshing dressing made from local maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. This dressing will win over almost anyone; it is sweet, but not excessively so, and really lets the delicious baby kale shine.

Maple syrup is widely available at stores that feature local products, like Barlow’s in Treadwell. I like to buy my maple syrup in bulk from Jason Bathen, a local syrup maker, located in Meredith. It is a great feeling to use Jason’s high-quality syrup year round. I take a lot of comfort in knowing I “bought local”.

Baby Kale with Roasted Carrots, Pumpkin Seeds and Maple Balsamic Dressing

This salad serves two people as a main course, or a family as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of baby kale - about 5-6 ounces, washed
  • 6 carrots peeled and cut into sticks
  • ¼ cup raw La Pluma style pumpkin seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing:

  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil (or olive oil)

Special Equipment:

A baking sheet

Preparation:

1.     Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.     Wash the carrots, peel, and cut into attractive pieces.

3.     Place on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

4.     Place in oven and roast for about 15 minutes, or until tender.

5.     Remove from the oven and set aside.

6.     On the same baking sheet place the raw pumpkin seeds and roast for about 5 minutes until they are toasted but not burned.

7.     Meanwhile, wash the kale and dry it.  If the stems are tough, just strip off the leaves and discard the stems.

8.     Whisk together the dressing in a bowl.

9.     Toss the salad with the dressing in your salad bowl.

10.   Season with salt and pepper, toss, and enjoy!

Where to buy local products featured in this column

Baby kale at

Lucky Dog Farm, 35796 Route 10, Hamden

(607) 746-8383

www.luckydogorganic.com

Maple syrup from

Spring Lake Syrup, Meredith

By appointment: call Jason Bathen at (607) 643-3935.

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