Box or Bag? Kale Salad with White Beans and Farro

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Baby Kale Salad with White Beans, Farro, and Golden Raisins

I’m the primary caregiver for my partner’s mother. She lives with us and there are a great many rewards, but there are also challenges. As her dementia progresses my caregiving responsibilities naturally increase. Perhaps you’ve noticed that I don’t post as much as I used to and some of my entries are less culinarily enthusiastic than they once were. In fact, I find myself taking all kinds of dinnertime shortcuts that at one time seemed unthinkable to me. Which means semi-creative salads are often the compromise I make to get a meal made. Kale Salad with White Beans and Farro should be a simple dinner. However, in today’s mechanized food world dinner is rarely simple. Even salad.

Box, Bag, or Prep your Own?

That’s a question I ask myself a lot these days. That’s because there are a lot of reasons to hate those pre-washed salad greens that come in a bag. First I can’t get over the feeling that a salad in a bag is the modern version of imagination-free, single-serving TV dinners. I know they’re convenient but the waste created by the excessive packaging is a real problem for me – never mind that these little bags cost just as much as good organic, locally grown lettuce. But, if you’re the kind of person whose good intentions sometimes lead you to buy a whole drawerful of farmers market vegetables and then let them rot simply because you don’t have the time and/or energy to wash, chop, and prep all that good green stuff then I think there’s an argument to be made that more packaging waste is the trade-off for less food waste. Or is it?

Because another unappetizing fact about bagged greens is the disturbing method they use to help those leaves appear so fresh and green. Food that has been “packaged in a protective atmosphere” means that it has been “gassed” with “modified” air to extend its shelf life. So, much like the mummies of ancient Egypt, once that “protection” is compromised by opening the bag the limp leaves inside quickly catch up with their actual age and become nearly inedible within hours. Yuck…

Boxed Kale Salad with White Beans

Still. Here’s a Kale Salad with White Beans and Farro I made with baby kale leaves that come pre-packaged in a plastic clamshell box. I don’t think greens in a box are “gassed” like the bagged versions. The box isn’t airtight. But still, I wonder every time I throw the plastic box in the recycling bin if I’m doing the right thing. The thing is I’ve never seen baby kale leaves sold any other way than pre-packaged. I like all kale but I like baby kale a little better than any other type of kale. So, I tell myself, buying the box means I’ll eat kale more often. Surely that’s a win. Besides baby kale in a box still requires some creativity to make it interesting. Right?

What do you think? GREG

Baby Kale Salad with White Beans, Farro, and Golden Raisins

Baby Kale Salad with White Beans, Farro, and Golden Raisins

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Source Adapted from Gena HamshawPublished
Baby Kale Salad with White Beans, Farro, and Golden Raisins

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cup water (you can substitute chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 1 cup hulled farro (rinsed and drained)
  • kosher salt (as needed)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • black pepper (as needed)
  • 5 ounce baby kale leaves (washed and dried)
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 ½ cup cooked and drained white beans (or one 15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)
  • lemon wedges (for serving)

Directions

To cook the farro: Bring water (or stock) to a boil in a large saucepan. Add a generous heaping teaspoon of salt (optional) and the farro. Bring to a boil. Once boiling lower the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer until the farro has begun to split open and has reached the desired tenderness, about 25 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water. The farro may be made one day ahead. In which case cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Whisk until blended, set aside.

To make the salad: Fluff the cooked farro with a fork and set aside.

Put the baby kale leaves into a large bowl. Pour in about half of the dressing and toss until well coated. Add the farro, raisins, and white beans; toss to combine. Drizzle in a bit more dressing. The salad should be generously dressed but not swimming in dressing, use your judgment. Toss again. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.