Kale has soared to healthful new heights over the last few years. Because it’s low in calories, high in fiber and contains antioxidants, it has become the new darling of the world of greens.
Now, alas, comes some bad news about kale. It has wound up on Environmental Working Group’s 2019 Dirty Dozen list, an annual ranking of the fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticides. Kale came in at No. 3, behind No. 2 spinach and No. 1 strawberries.
“We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it, but the test results were unequivocal,” EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin said in a news release. “Fruits and vegetables are an important part of everyone’s diet, and when it comes to some conventionally grown produce items such as kale, choosing organic may be a better option.”
EWG’s yearly Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which it has been producing since 2004, is based on test data from the United States Department of Agriculture. (You can get it free at www.ewg.org.)
“More than 92 percent of kale samples had two or more pesticide residues detected, and a single sample could contain up to 18 different residues,” the 2019 guide says, noting that the USDA hadn’t tested kale in 10 years. Rinsing doesn’t help either, it says. Testing is done on fruits and vegetables that have been thoroughly cleaned.
Also concerning is that nearly 60 percent of kale was found to contain the pesticide Dacthal (DCPA), which is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a possible human carcinogen. Dacthal has been prohibited in Europe since 2009.
EWG also came up with a Clean 15, a list of fruits and vegetables that contain few or no pesticides.
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
The environmental watchdog organization recommends buying organic produce when possible because “people who eat organic produce consume fewer pesticides.” If organic isn’t an option, consumers should still eat plenty of fresh produce, even if it’s conventionally grown, because the “benefits outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.”
At stores, you’ll find curly kale with broad and firm leaves and tough stems. There’s also Tuscan kale, sometimes labeled dinosaur, lacinato or black kale, which is known for long, dark leaves and the not-so-tough stems.
Some stores sell organic kale at a fairly reasonable price. My local Kroger sells curly kale for 99 cents a bunch.
Today’s recipe for salmon served on a bed of greens is a favorite. You can use any green, including kale.
Slow-Cooked Salmon, Chickpeas and Mustard Greens
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
For the salmon:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking dish, divided
- 1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch small mustard greens, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped or rainbow chard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 salmon fillets (about 5 ounces each, skin removed)
For the vinaigrette:
- 1/2 small shallot, peeled, very finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained, rinsed, patted dry
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. F Brush a large baking dish with a bit of oil.
In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, cumin and 1 tablespoon oil. Mash about half of chickpeas in the bowl with a fork; season all with salt and pepper. Transfer chickpea mixture to prepared dish.
In a large skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mustard greens or rainbow chard and cook, tossing until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add honey and water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until greens are completely wilted, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to baking dish, placing the greens on top of the chickpea mixture.
Generously season each salmon fillet with salt and pepper; arrange on top of the greens and chickpea mixture and drizzle with oil. Bake until salmon is opaque in the center, 25-30 minutes depending on its thickness.
Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk shallot, lemon juice, mustard and honey; season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil; season with salt and pepper.
Heat vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook capers until opened and crisp, about 30 seconds; drain.
Drizzle salmon with vinaigrette and top with capers.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 481 calories (47 percent from fat), 25 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 28 g carbohydrates, 38 g protein, 532 mg sodium, 77 mg cholesterol, 9 g fiber.
Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit March 2014 issue
Test Kitchen is Tribune News Service column by Susan Selasky, the food writer and Test Kitchen director for the Detroit Free Press, where she develops and tests recipes and answers readers’ questions about all things food. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @SusanMariecooks