As we forge ahead through the months, cruising right past the spring equinox and with Easter on the horizon, I can’t help but think of the lighter, refreshing fare that awaits us in the summer months. A time when the foods we eat play a role in cooling the body from the sweltering heat outside, as opposed to warming the body in the colder, harsher months of winter. The winter layers are shed away to make way for lightness that comes with the warmer months of the year. The rustic root vegetables, comfort foods and hearty soups are replaced by even more abundance of fresh, delicate greens, beautiful berries and earthy produce that’s taste is reminiscent of the fertile ground from which it was grown.

Stuck somewhere in between these seasonal transitions, I find myself lured in by the beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom and the glimmers of sunshine we’ve had this week, feeling optimistic that perhaps summer isn’t that far away; while feeling a slight pang in the pit of my stomach at the thought of returning to Calgary this weekend with snow in the forecast (however, there is way too much good planned this weekend for a little snow to turn me off including a fabulous bridal shower and bachelorette for yours truly – whoop whoop!). Alas, what’s one to do but simply enjoy the journey and the melding of seasons.

Tonight’s dinner embodied just that – some elements of winter, some of summer – and you know, they work together beautifully. The protein rich quinoa, hearty Lacinato kale, crisp yet tart cabbage and vibrant edamame are united with a really basic miso-orange dressing (one that could be used on a multitude of dishes – so keep this one in your back pocket!). Most often, miso paste (fermented soybeans) can be found in the refrigerated section of your local health food store.

My go-to method for washing kale (even organic) is to allow it to soak in a vinegar and salt water bath. Toss all your kale into a plugged sink, add 2-3 tablespoons white vinegar and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. This method works really well for removing any critters hiding in the leaves and trace amounts of pesticides. Once you’re ready to prepare the kale, rinse, drain and dry, remove the stem and roughly chop or tear into bite-sized pieces. Once you’ve got the dressing prepared, you are ready to turn your kale into massaged kale. I encourage you to really get into this massaging process as it helps to turn this green from bitter and tough to tender and sweet. Just really get into it, squeeze it, grip it, tear it – kale can handle it.

This is the debut of Edamame on The Divine Sprout blog and this dish truly wouldn’t be the same without it. Edamame, or young, fresh soybeans, has earned it’s place on a lot of appetizer lists and for good reason. Full of nutritional pow, edamame offers a vibrant green and a nice crunch to the dish. Usually sold in your grocers frozen section and is sold in pods or shelled. A really easy way to defrost from frozen when prepping this dish? Put the edamame into a bowl and pour almost boiling water over top so they are completely submerged. Allow to sit until defrosted, usually 3-5 minutes. This gives you some multi-tasking time!

Don’t forget to rinse your quinoa. Wash away any bitter tasting saponins that may linger. Although many store bought varieties are already rinsed before resale, it never hurts to double rinse. Don’t have red quinoa? That’s ok, either black or white varieties work just as well, however, will require slightly adjusted cooking times (less time for white and a couple minutes extra for black).

We are creating a very speedy pickled cabbage which offers a beautiful tartness to the dish without being overwhelming. By allowing the cabbage to marinate in the apple cider vinegar while we prepare the rest of the dish, the cabbage turns into a more delicate version of it’s former self and transforms from it’s beautiful purple to an even more stunning fuscia!

Although the recipe indicates that it serves two, if you’re like me, you might just want to eat it all yourself. Enjoy!

Miso Orange Massaged Kale with Red Quinoa and Edamame

Serves 2 as a main

1 cup red quinoa
1 large bunch lacinato kale, ribs removed (about 5 cups chopped)
1/4 head of purple cabbage
1/2 cup shelled edamame

Quick Brine (for Cabbage):
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Miso Orange Dressing:
2 tablespoons organic Miso paste
Juice from one orange (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons sesame oil to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Optional Toppings:
Fresh orange slivers
Yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
Finely sliced red onion
Sesame seeds

1. In a saucepan, bring quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil. Once boil is achieved, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-17 minutes. Quinoa is done when it looks like it has opened and is tender without being mushy. Once cooked, remove from heat until ready to use. *Note if you are using white or black quinoa to adjust your cooking time appropriately.

2. Follow the vinegar and salt water method described above to wash your kale. Drain and dry. Remove the stems and roughly chop or tear greens into bite sized pieces. Set aside in a large bowl.

3. Remove any wilted, outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut into quarters but place 3/4 of the cabbage back into fridge and keep out just 1/4 (one wedge). Remove the thick white core and thinly slice the cabbage. Place into bowl a small bowl and add ingredients for vinegar brine. Thoroughly coat the cabbage with liquid and massage firmly for a couple of minutes using either your hands or a wooden spoon. You can be rough on the cabbage as you want to break down the cell walls of the cabbage which turns the vegetable into a watery, more limp version of it’s former self while the brine works its magic in transforming the flavour. Set aside.

4. Combine your ingredients for the miso dressing in a small bowl and blend using an immersion (handheld) blender. This should result in about 3/4 cup of sauce. Remove 1/4 cup of the dressing and pour over your prepared kale. Using your hands, thoroughly massage the kale until it is lightly covered in dressing and begins to soften as well. Once well coated and massaged, set aside.

5. Defrost your edamame by pouring hot water over top and allowing to sit until defrosted, about 3 minutes. Drain excess water and set aside.

6. You’re now ready to dish up! Any way you like. I began with a base layer of massage kale and arranged the other ingredients across the top, finishing with some fresh orange slices, raw red onion, yellow cherry tomatoes, more miso orange dressing and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.