It’s still possible to find new vegetables at the market, created the old-fashioned way by cross-breeding one vegetable with another to come up with something a little bit different and utterly delicious.
Kalette is the latest “new” vegetable, a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale. The little florets grow up the stalk just like Brussels sprouts, but instead of being tight little balls, they’re frilly and flower-like. And they’re a beautiful green color with bright purple stems and leaf ribs. They’re so pretty they’d work as an ornamental for your flower bed, if they weren’t so tasty. They’re so cute they’re being marketed to restaurants as “lollipop kale.”
It was an interest in growing something new that led Tim Stewart of Rockin’ S Farms in the Free Home community of Cherokee County to begin growing kalettes. He checked out Johnny’s Selected Seeds and ended up purchasing some of each of the three varieties available, “Autumn Star,” “Mistletoe” and “Snowdrop.” Their names are a hint this is a vegetable that enjoys cold weather. The three varieties have different maturing times, but Stewart says they all taste the same.
“You can sow them all at the same time, which is easier for the farmer, but then since they mature at different times, you have a longer harvest window. They do have different growing habits, some are taller, some are stubbier.”
A little experimentation with kalette taught him that starting the plants in seed trays in the greenhouse and then setting out transplants works better for him than direct seeding in the ground. And he’s found they’re easier to grow than broccoli and cauliflower, which can be a challenge with Georgia’s changeable weather.
As for taste, his customers have snapped them up. “When you eat them you don’t know if you’re eating Brussels sprouts or kale. You get a little bit of the flavor of each. When I took them to the market, my customers bought everything I had. I did sell a few to Daniel Porubiansky of Century House Tavern in Woodstock.”
He’s sold out of everything he’s grown, and hopes to have more to bring to market about mid-February.
Linda Harrell’s Pan Roasted Kalettes
Chef Linda Harrell of Sandy Springs’ Cibo e Beve is a big fan of vegetables. When asked at a demo at the Morningside Farmers Market what vegetable she was curious to learn more about, her answer was “kalette.” “Kalette?” the audience asked? Now that we know more about them, we went back to Linda for a recipe. She’s created this one that treats kalette like the Brussels sprouts they’re related to but adds lots of layers of flavors. Given all the components, we agree when she says these roasted kalettes would be delicious topped with a poached egg.
At Cibo e Beve they used Nueske’s bacon made in St. Wittenberg, Wisconsin. And while this full recipe would be four shareable appetizer portions, we’ve suggested a serving size if you’re using it as a side dish.
1/4 cup olive or coconut oil
5 cloves garlic
1/4 pound bacon, chopped
2 pounds kalettes, ends trimmed
4 ounces grated Pecorino Romano (about 1 cup)
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a heat-proof large saute pan or wok, heat oil over medium heat. Add whole cloves of garlic and simmer in oil until the garlic just begins to turn golden brown. Do not overcook. Working quickly stir in bacon and reduce heat to low. Cook until bacon has rendered its fat but is not too crisp. Add kalettes and toss in oil until coated. Move pan to oven and cook 8 minutes or longer, depending on how crisp you want the kalettes to be. Remove from oven and top with Pecorino Romano. season to taste. Serves: 8
Per serving: 249 calories (percent of calories from fat, 63), 13 grams protein, 11 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 18 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 27 milligrams cholesterol, 445 milligrams sodium.
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