Written and developed by Cathy Collins

kale salad

A beautiful and delicious salad for summer. Photo courtesy of feedingyoursoul.net

My goal in recording my recipes is to be able to provide interesting, healthy meals and food ideas by using as many ingredients as possible from local pantries and Food Finders Food Bank, Inc.  I was in luck again. I got a couple of bunches of kale last week at St. John’s/LUM food pantry.  I’ve heard the time for kale and other dark green, leafy vegetables are almost past us, but don’t worry; we’ll see them again as the weather cools a bit (typically mid-September through October).


Bright, green kale is readily available now!

Kale is one of those things I used to struggle to find good uses for.  Then I discovered a salad in the Payless Deli.  It was made with a base of kale and lots of other yummy things.  They called it a “Super Food” salad.  It is loaded with all kinds of interesting ingredients; everything from cherry tomatoes to blueberries and cranberries, cashews and sunflower seeds, even edamame (fresh green soybeans).  All of these foods are called “Super Foods” because they are densely packed with vital nutrients, beneficial fiber, unsaturated fats, trace minerals and all the other things the medical community and health experts are preaching at us to eat.  I love this salad, but it’s a bit pricy for my budget, so I make my own version.

We are lucky here in Indiana.  We have a fairly decent growing season and rich soil so we can take advantage of many of these foods.  While we don’t grow citrus fruit here in Indiana, or some of the other more exotic super foods, we do have plenty of berries, leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and beans.  Summer is definitely the time to take advantage of what grows in the garden, what the generous farmers and gardeners donate to The Veggie Drop, Food Finders Food Bank, Inc. and directly to the pantries and soup kitchens, what the volunteers from The Veggie Drop gather, and what our food pantries provide.  Without the support of these people, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the fresh produce available.


Veggie Drop volunteers getting ready to distribute produce collected from vendors at the Farmers Market

To be honest, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what was available at the food pantries before I had to start frequenting them to survive.  I thought there would be a lot of stale or outdated food and I couldn’t even imagine that any of it would be that good for you.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the ingredients provided by Food Finders and our local pantries are not only healthy, but fresh. There is a wide and ever changing variety available. I just had to get creative with my cooking again and prepare to have A LOT of something for a couple of weeks.

With that in mind… what’s in the kitchen today?

Kale, lots of it!

Fresh broccoli, not much but it’s got to be used quickly.

Onions, fresh and strong.  Yummy!

Dried Cranberries. These were available a couple of weeks ago in 40 oz. packages at many of the pantries and oh, my! I still have lots!  Other than just snack on them and I’m working on a few creative ways to use them, including oatmeal cookies and granola.  It’s a good thing they keep.

Chickpeas, almost always an option at the pantries, so again, I have plenty.  Chickpeas have to be cooked for a LONG time but worth the effort.  See the section on Preparing Your Beans for tips and tricks.

We’ve also seen lots of little 4 oz. cartons of orange juice.  The combination of citrus fruits with iron-rich vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli and chickpeas helps our bodies absorb and process the iron more efficiently.  Perfect, I’ll make my own vinaigrette salad dressing!


Salad dressing is an easy, at-home fix. Photo courtesy of allrecipes.com

Salad dressing is an easy, at-home fix. Photo courtesy of allrecipes.com


Once you’ve made the Super Foods, Super Salad, you can still enjoy fresh summer greens, just blanch and freeze any unused portions and keep them for recipes like Veggie Drop Minestrone or any other vegetable soup or stew this winter.

Orange-Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing Recipe

Super Food, Super Salad Recipe