Tomato Head’s Warm Kale and Root Vegetable Salad

Whenever I talk about kale, my vocabulary becomes very healthy as I launch into a diatribe about this nearly ever-green superfood.  But even as I do, I can see a weariness creep across the faces of the people I’m talking to; sometimes, that look is accompanied by a slight rolling of the eyes, or a little exhalation of breath, almost a deflation, as if to say, “Not again.”

I’m not a kale evangelist, perhaps an enthusiast, yes, but not an evangelist. I’m certainly not a bore (please, God, don’t let THAT be true). And I’m certain that I don’t wear the subject out, so I can hardly be blamed for the fact that this nutrient dense member of the Brassica species suffers from overexposure.

Kale fatigue is not my fault.

But that doesn’t change the fact that kale is awfully good for you and that it’s available and seasonal when green, leafy vegetables usually fly south for the season.  So we should talk about it even if our friends roll their eyes.  Kale fatigue be damned.

But I’m convinced that this weariness has less to do with conversation than with an urge to get too much, too fast.  No food will change your life after a single serving – well, that’s not entirely true: once, a cupcake made me believe in Paradise.  But in terms of health and well-being, it takes more than one big bowl of leafy greens to cure what ails ya.  Furthermore, kale’s a tough cookie – it’s at its most nutritious when it’s raw, and, believe you me, raw kale is no fun to eat.

It reminds me of my cousin Bruce.  Bruce loves pecan pie, and I’m pretty sure that he’d love spiced pecans and pecan cinnamon rolls, too.  But Bruce won’t touch any of those things – it’s torturous to watch him agonize over pecan pie at Thanksgiving – his mouth practically waters!  But once upon a time, Bruce got a bite of that pithy bit of fiber that separates the two halves of pecan meat.  I’m sure Mamaw didn’t mean to leave in the pie, but that brief moment of unwelcome bitterness, coming, as it did, in the midst of sugary heaven, put Cousin Bruce off pecans and all nuts for the last 35 years.

I feel certain that that’s what’s happened to many a potential kale lover.  We know that if you gently massage the kale leaf and remove the rib, then the little bite of Brassica becomes much nicer to nibble and exponentially more delectable for the digestion.  But like Bruce and his nuts, even a single bite of tense, unrubbed kale or a chew of wayward, fibrous kale rib can put you off the vegetable for a very long time.

That’s why it may be better to cook the kale a little.  Sure, you diminish some of the vitamin concentration in a single serving, but, over your lifetime (unlike the sad but safe exclusion of pecan pie in Bruce’s life) I’m betting that you’re better off having kale in your diet.

This recipe is a great example of how to use kale without risking kale fatigue.  Combining the gently cooked and seasoned leafy greens with earthy and sweet, roasted root vegetables makes an incredibly delicious – perhaps even sneaky- way to get good food on the plate and in the body.  Plus the crunch and light sweetness of fennel bulb adds and irresistible texture and perkiness that gives the whole salad a lift that is seasonal and guaranteed to fight off a whole list of kale fatigue symptoms – especially the dreaded rolling of the eyes.

 

Tomato Head’s Warm Kale and Root Vegetable Salad

1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 inch pieces

1.5 cups beets, diced into 1 inch pieces

2 cups potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss each vegetable separately with 1 Tbl Oil, ¼ tsp Salt and ¼ tsp Black Pepper. Place vegetables on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in separate clumps. Bake Carrots for 20 minutes until soft, Beets for 30 minutes until soft and Potatoes for 40 minutes until soft, removing each vegetable from the oven as they cook and setting them aside.

½ cup Fennel Bulb

6 cups Kale

Cut the green stems off the Fennel, rinse the bulb, and cut in half. Remove the core then thinly slice the fennel with a knife or a mandoline slicer and set aside.

Wash Kale and cut into 1 inch strips.

To assemble the salad:

½ cup balsamic vinegar reduced to ¼ cup

¼ cup olive oil

½ tsp salt

1 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar

Place ½ cup balsamic vinegar in a large skillet over medium heat and reduce down to ¼ cup. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the remaining ingredients and whisk well. Add the kale to the hot skillet, allowing the Kale to wilt a little.

Place Kale in a large bowl, and add the roasted vegetables, and Fennel. (if your skillet is large enough you can add the vegetables directly to the skillet). Toss everything together until all the vegetables are coated with dressing and serve.

Serves 2-4 people.

Good People Brewing Company

I can’t pinpoint when I first heard the phrase, “the good life” bandied around in marketing efforts.  I certainly and vividly recall the first time I heard Martha Stewart say, “It’s a good thing,” and I’m still uncertain about how I feel about that.  I remember the first time I was aware that the “good life” was a thing to be considered and discussed.  It was a college seminar on a book called “The Fragility of Goodness” that mentioned a concept called Eudaimonia – which is one of those 50 drachma words that folks like Aristotle favored, the kind that you and I have to explain as we translate.  It kind of means the good life, but it’s more about human flourishing.  At any rate, if you think about it too much, you may want a drink to facilitate your own flourishing.

Still the good life, this Eudaimonia, as I learned, is a many splendored thing.  To have it you have to have moderate control over some parts of the uncontrollable – say, shelter from the storm – and you also have to have people, good people.  My mamaw used speak of good people (which sounds like a collective noun, but usually refers to a single person), and I think she meant someone who you could trust, who had a good moral sense, and who didn’t beat the kids more than what was necessary to avoid spoilage.  You know, salt of the earth kind of people.

good_pplA good life, true human flourishing, that is, involves intimate interaction with these good people.  And since we know how challenging it can be to find good people and harder still (for some of us, at least) to be good people, we’re also pretty certain that the good life involves intimate interaction with good beer.  And when you find good people making good beer, well that’s one of modern life’s truly fantastic flourishes.  And it seems to us that that’s what craft beer ought to be about.

This month we’ll celebrate Good People who make good beer in Birmingham.  The Good People Brewing Company has been in business since 2008, producing a line of quality craft beer that reflects their drive to give folks at home the same kind of complex, mind-altering beer experiences that they, co-founders Michael Sellers and Jason Malone, had while traipsing around overseas after college.

Although growing, the brewery has maintained a fairly limited distribution area concentrating on their home state and parts of our own, which is pretty neighborly in a good people, love your neighbor kind of way.  The beers are beautifully canned with eye-catching labels that keep things light – after all, mamaw might remind us, Good People don’t take themselves too seriously.

The brewery produces 5 year round brews, 4 seasonals, and intermittent one-offs.

We’re very happy to have their first Saison/ Farmhouse Ale, Urban Farmer on tap.  It’s “…a unique blend of saison yeast strains, which lend flavor and aroma characteristics of grapefruit, pineapple, orange zest, earthiness and spiciness.”  And it’s a good way to usher in the last leg of 2016.

We’ll be featuring different beers at each location, so make a point to visit both Market Square and the Gallery to get a comprehensive view of this brewery!  We’ll offer selections for Good People’s very good line-up:

Pale Ale: The flagship brew balances the subtle caramel tones of 2-Row & 5 Specialty Malts with just the right amount of hops. Complex and versatile, it’s good anytime, anywhere for any occasion.

IPA: This unfiltered, dry-hopped IPA packs a copper-colored aromatic punch. Herbal and earthy hops take center stage, tempered by light caramel flavors. Crisp and refreshing, it’s a hop lover’s dream.

Brown Ale: Sweet without being cloying, our Brown Ale delivers a hint of nuttiness that plays nicely with a healthy dose of hops. The mildest offering in our lineup, this classic brew hits the spot every time.

Snake Handler: Dangerously drinkable, this Double IPA brew is a spirited celebration of all things hoppy. Aromas of pine, citrus, flowers, spice, pineapple, and grassiness complement a biscuit and caramel backbone. Hands down, our most requested beer.

Coffee Oatmeal Flavored Stout: Known to fans as C-O-S, our Coffee Oatmeal Stout delivers a big coffee taste followed by a wallop of Willamette hops. Complex and flavorful, amazingly sessionable. Good after a meal.

Bearded Lady: This light-bodied wheat ale marries a Weizen Glass hint of hops with a whisker of tartness for a subtle citrus flavor. Silky smooth and refreshing, it’s the perfect tonic for 5 o’clock shadows, seven days a week.

Good People is a pretty good beer choice for contemplating all the mysteries of the good life. I can’t be certain precisely how it will affect your human experience, but, at the very least, I suspect your conversation will flourish – and, ahem, that’s a good thing.

Yogurt

Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles sound like things that would drive you to the health department in search of an epidemiologist or a good dose of penicillin – depending on what you’ve been up to.  Despite the fearsome names, these two characters are beneficent parts of the mystical world of probiotics and also essential building blocks of one of the world’s favorite dairy treats, yogurt.

Simply put, Lactobacillus and Streptococcus are friendly cultures that turn warm milk into thick and creamy yogurt.  You can see them work in your own home by heating some milk and adding plain yogurt (or a packet of yogurt culture) to it.  The culture will grow and thicken and turn milk into yogurt.  It’s not as nice as water into wine, but it’s a pretty nifty thing to see.  In addition to creating a delicious edible, these cultures, these probiotics help make the food good for you.

Probiotics are good bacteria, the kind that make your gut a better place and, therefore, your life a little better.  They help with all sorts of digestion issues and may even have a calming effect on parts of your digestive system that may become irritable from time to time.  Nice stuff, probiotics.  Though how and how well these particular probiotics really work and what they work on is still under investigation, here at the Tomato Head office of Instagram Affairs we’re pretty certain that, in addition to their many good works in the digestive tract, these particular probiotics, especially as they appear in our house made yogurt, may have an addictive quality for some people and may result in strange behavior in certain individuals.

YogurtNote

Exhibit A – “The Note” (photo by rouletteweekend)

Consider Exhibit A – our frequent guest and Instagram Stalker Angie posted a photo of a hand written message, one clearly composed in distress.  In the note Angie, in the heated throes of yogurt withdrawal, threatens to post a series of “Tomato Head Nudes” that would, she suggests, include some particularly provocative shots with a Kepner Melt.

Like many good things, perhaps our cultured friends Lac and Strep have a dark side – one that grips the very heart of some poor souls, creating desire and diminishing modesty.  It’s hard to say, harder still to see.

And so, though the wisdom of complying with such demands is certainly questionable, we became very concerned about the general welfare, especially for our poor and much beloved Kepner.  Suppose that we did let Angie post her nudes, and Instagram deleted her account – where would that leave the poor dear? Would she take to Market Square with nothing but a manic smile?  So for her own sake, for the good health of the Kepner Melt, and the peace of the realm, we yielded.

Screenshot_20160729-094947

The Bowl (photo by rouletteweekend)

And yet, Angie’s need goes unassuaged.  Soon after we helped her avoid a citation for public indecency, Angie began again.  This time she threatened to shave her head, which, of course, isn’t really a threat – some of our favorite people have already shorn their wavy locks in favor of a clean and lean pate, one that’s free of gel, scrunch and other life complications of the hirsute. Instead, we see this as a sign of progress, of hope, of healing.   So again we offer yogurt.

She also wrote a special post for us to include here.  And since artistic expression is often a part of the healing arts, we’d like to share Angie’s own words with you:

“The Tomato Head is proud to announce the return of our beloved yogurt. As it turns out, people miss the fresh taste of happiness on Saturday morning so we have decided to bring it back the last weekend of every month. And because one of our loyal customers loves it so much, we’ve decided to name it after her indefinitely only changing the “occasion” in the middle. We’ve already had “Angie’s Birthday Yogurt,” which we will stick with in October and most recently the “Angie, Keep Your Clothes On Yogurt.” You can check out our Instagram if you’d like to know how that name came about.  Next month in July, we will be featuring the “Angie Shaved Her Head For This Yogurt” and so on and so forth for the remainder of 2016. More importantly, we would like to apologize for taking away your little bowls of happiness for so long and we would like to thank Angie for reminding us that it really is the little things in life that make us happy. So here’s to life, liberty, and the pursuit of yogurt!”

This weekend for brunch we are, in fact, offering Mahasti’s delicious “Angie Shaved Her Head For This Yogurt” with all of its probiotic impact – not just for Angie but for all people of good heart, good taste and good gut health.  The yogurt will be loaded with good stuff, lots of fruit – Angie, we suspect, will provide the nuts.

History in Pictures

Are They Really Naked?

For the next week or so the walls of Tomato Head Market Square aren’t just walls – they’re also not so secret passageways to memory lane. From time to time we like to bring out these visual memories, a series of black and white photos taken during the early days of our 25 years on Market Square. We were young, daring, and sometimes a little silly (if you can believe that) during our first, fervent years. And it shows in the pictures that line the wall.

The series is the work of two photographers: Bruce Cole and David Andrews. Bruce was the first; he would follow us around downtown taking pictures that we would use for advertisements. These were the days of the Flying Tomato, our moniker before we grew into the Tomato Head, when smokers still lit up in dining rooms and our sandwich board outside advertised escargots as a pizza topping.

If you look to the southwest corner of our dining room, you’ll see a picture of Mahasti and the Flying Tomato crew in what became one of the very first ads we ran in Metro Pulse (may it rest in peace). There’s another photo of a seemingly naked crew standing behind a banner – in truth, of course, we were all clothed, but we sure hoped you thought otherwise. And we were almost wild enough to streak, especially if that would have gotten people into the restaurant.

There’s another photo that we can’t even imagine taking these days: the crew, young and small, all lined up with our heads sticking out of the pizza oven.

Bruce stuck with us for many years but eventually he moved on, and David Andrews began to document our shenanigans. But David’s eye was drawn to more of what was happening in the restaurant both with our staff and guests. If you’re a longtime friend – you might see someone you know. One of our favorite guest shots is of writer, performer and media personality, Bob Deck. In the photo, which you can see in the southeast corner of the dining room, Bob sits in the old place with his infant daughter, Olivia. In a sweet twist of fate, that photo has come full circle in a way – Olivia works with us now.

In addition to memories of madcap merriment amidst some very, very hard work that led to the Tomato Head of today, the exhibit reminds us of just how close a community we were; co-workers, guests, friends all mingled together – lines were blurry then. What was clear was that we were in good company with a good vibe that was rambunctious at times, always a little spirited. It’s possible that the intervening years have tamed our rambunctiousness a bit – we’re certainly not as wild as once we were – but the vibe still feels pretty good and the company couldn’t be finer. And for that, we’re grateful.

National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

And suddenly, it’s June 12.  For many of us, the kids have already been out of school for long enough; and for those unfortunate scholars who have just been released from their labors, there’s an air of resentment born from a feeling that they’ve been kept unfairly chained to their desks while everybody else has been out having fun.  And that, of course, is and has been a lot of fun for parental ears to hear.  It’s enough to make you need to take a cookie break.  And perhaps that’s why June 12 is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day.

Cookies, by nature, create comfort, which is geometrically increased if there’s peanut butter in the mix.  In the moment of cookie consumption, the ethereal hopes founded on comfort food are made flesh, real and immediate.  It may well calm the kids, too, but today our need is greater.  And, as it’s an official holiday, feast rules apply, so we can indulge without guilt.  In many ways, a Peanut Butter Cookie is good medicine.  It’s certainly good juju.

Peanut Butter itself is one of the undisputed regents of our pantries.  Along with bread and packaged meat, it’s at the top of most grocery shopping lists.  Its blissful union of protein, popularity and simplicity give it special powers that parents appreciate when faced with the often insatiable appetites of young, summer warriors.  But for our purposes, it’s the combination of rich and roasted nuttiness, touched by a gentle sweetness that commends this particular nut butter to our cookie cravings.

We’re unabashedly fond of our Peanut Butter Cookies.  Just picking them up sends appetizing signals to our brain – the weight and texture foretell a good bite, the aroma of sweet, roasted peanuts promises an equally enjoyable taste.  They’re soft and yielding but still firm enough to enjoy a quick dunk in some milk or even coffee.

Of course, the kids love them, too.  And sometimes we’ve been known to split our treats with them; our cookies are big enough to share, and we like to encourage sharing.  On the other hand, they’re just the right size to help us appreciate how sweet life is with friends and family all around us.  And that’s really good juju – especially if everyone has their very own peanut butter cookie.

Happy Summer Vacation! Happy Peanut Butter Cookie Day!

April Loving Spoonful Fundraisers for Appalachian Mountain Bike Club

The Tomato Head celebrates the conservation and trail preservation efforts of the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club with their next round of Loving Spoonful fundraisers. The last three Tuesdays in April provide our community the opportunity to help raise awareness and much needed funds for AMBC trail development in Knox County.

“AMBC is excited to be partnering with The Tomato Head in the month of April,” said AMBC Secretary Molly Robinson. “We love to support local business, and Tomato Head’s commitment to healthy, quality food and sustainability is a perfect match. Funds raised from this partnership will go directly to the trails and our efforts to conserve Knoxville’s open spaces.”

Appalachian Mountain Bike Club currently maintains the Knoxville Urban Wilderness trail network in south Knoxville and Concord Park in west Knoxville as well as Sharp’s Ridge in north Knoxville and I.C. King Park in south Knoxville. AMBC provided over 1300 man hours for the layout and construction of trails in Hastie Natural Area.

By partnering with Knox County, Ijams Nature Center, TWRA and numerous private land owners, AMBC developed 35 miles of multi-use natural surface trails at Forks of the River WMA, Ijams/Ross Marble Quarry and Marie Myers Park.

“The network of hiking and biking trails created by AMBC in South Knoxville creates a world class outdoor attraction that is within easy cycling distance of our downtown and close-in neighborhoods. What truly amazes us is the dedication of the AMBC volunteers who get the work done, said Tomato Head co-owner Scott Partin.

“On any given weekend 30-50 incredible folks will show up and toil for several hours with hand tools, literally hacking the trails out of the forest. We are inspired and humbled by the work done by our fellow Knoxvillians and are honored to support their work this month.”

A portion of the proceeds generated at each event goes directly to AMBC.

April 15 (Sandwich Day Fundraiser) Both Tomato Head locations during lunch and dinner will offer a special AMBC sandwich with $3 dollars from each sandwich sold going to the nonprofit.

April 22 (Pint Night Fundraiser) Foothills Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Aged People’s Porter. AMBC receives $1 from each draft sold, whether it’s the  Bourbon Barrel Aged People’s Porter or any tasty craft beer we offer on draft. This event takes place at both Tomato Head locations.

April 29 (Beer Dinner Fundraiser) Four course menu paired with a selection of Foothills Brewing beers. Tickets are only $45 (including tax and gratuity). AMBC receives $10 from each ticket sold. Our location in The Gallery Shopping Center at 7240 Kingston Pike hosts the beer dinner.

  • Cucumber Benedictine. Benton’s Country Ham. Flour Head Bakery Parker house roll. Torch Pilsner.
  • Wilted mixed greens. Asparagus. Radish. Spring onion. Crispy salami or crispy mushrooms. Ricotta Salata. Jade IPA
  • Braised Lamb or Seitan. Herbed Polenta. Spring Vegetable Succotash. Hoppyum IPA
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlet. Marscapone cream. Carolina Strawberry Blonde
Seating is limited so call 584-1075 today for reservations.

For more information or interviews, please contact Molly Robinson, AMBC Secretary, at 865-250-0425 and mollymr1@gmail.com, or Michael Kuczmarski, The Tomato Head’s Marketing Director, at marketing@thetomatohead.com and 865-850-2318.

About Appalachian Mountain Bike Club

The Appalachian Mountain Bike Club is a chapter of the South East regional division of IMBA, committed to complement the goals and purpose of IMBA. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable trail access for off-road bicyclists and, to maintaining the trails on which mountain bikers ride and other user groups rely on. The Appalachian Mountain Bike Club supports the conservation of open spaces and is committed to educating mountain bicyclists to ride sensitively and responsibly in order to protect the natural environment and the experience of other trail users.

About The Tomato Head

Opened in 1990, The Tomato Head serves delicious sandwiches, pizzas, and burritos for carnivores, vegetarians and vegans, and is committed to teaming up with East Tennessee nonprofits to enrich the lives of the less fortunate in the area. Its new charitable donation program, Loving Spoonful, is a partnership between East Tennessee nonprofits, regional craft breweries and the restaurant. It consists of a series of fundraisers and special events with a percentage of the proceeds raised going to our community partner of the month.

Craft beer flights

Hey folks – craft beer drinkers will be happy to learn that we offer beer flights from regional breweries at our Gallery Shopping location. You’ll receive four 4oz. samples with tasting notes. This week we’re featuring our neighbor from Asheville, Highland Brewing Company. We’re pouring four of their brews – Razor Wit, Clawhammer Oktoberfest, Gaelic Ale and Oatmeal Porter. They’re available all week with a new flight coming on tap September 24. Come hang with us tonight and toast the end of the work day.

Tomato Head craft beer flights

Tomato Head beer flights

 

Find Us on Facebook

One way to keep up with all things Tomato Head and Flour Head Bakery is to find us on Facebook. We’ll let you know about upcoming events in Market Square, where you can purchase Flour Head breads, bagels and buns as well as participate in ticket giveaways to music events like Tennessee Shines Radio Show and Scruffy City Roots. For all things food and entertainment in Knoxville, turn to us on Facebook.

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design