Fenway Farms’ Kale Salad (Yes, That Fenway Park)
The Boston Red Sox are giving new meaning to the term "farm team." This season, the team’s iconic home, Fenway Park, debuted Fenway Farms, a garden on the roof of the ballpark producing thousands of pounds of ultra-local produce for the stadium restaurants and concessions outlets.
For Ron Abell, senior executive chef for Aramark at Fenway, that means the chance to change the meaning of ballpark food, using herbs and vegetables that travel a shorter distance from farm to plate than the sprint between third base and home. “Once you have crops growing, you can be more creative,” he explains. “We’re now able to do things people wouldn’t think of at a ballpark, like use the whole plant, including carrot tops, beet roots and chard stems.”
Though the farm is maintained by Green City Growers, Abell’s chefs wander the gardens for ideas, changing the menus for nearly every home stand. With nearly 4,000 pounds of produce harvested so far, the freshness has been noticeable to ticket holders. “Red Sox fans are so into it,” Abell says. “I see the same people here night after night, so it’s nice to give them a variety of things to eat.”
Fenway Farms is the exclusive produce purveyor for the premium-level EMC Club, but its produce is also widely available throughout the park’s concession stands, in dishes like a grilled chicken Caesar wrap with rooftop kale, and spicy Asian sesame noodles with cucumbers, carrot and cilantro plucked mere feet from the Big Green Monster. See kimchi as a hot-dog topping? It’s likely made with the overabundance of radishes from just upstairs. “It’s been a little trial-and-error,” Abell says. “I love radishes, but we had hundreds of pounds of them, and using the tops and the radishes, they were everywhere for a while.”
The farmers have yielded impressive amounts for such a small space, but obviously not all ingredients served at Fenway can be grown within its brick walls. So Abell works hard to buy locally whenever possible, using Vermont goat cheese, local maple syrup and cod from the area fishermen. Next season, keep an eye out for honey on the menu: Abell hopes to start rooftop apiaries for Fenway soon.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Add the pecans to a baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly brown and fragrant, about 8 minutes, stirring once. Let cool, then roughly chop. Meanwhile, trim ribs from kale and discard, then cut the kale leaves into thin ribbons. Trim the stalks off the fennel bulb, then, using a mandoline, thinly slice the bulb and submerge the pieces in ice water. Julienne the apple.
To make the dressing, combine shallots and thyme in a small bowl, then add mustard, lemon juice and maple syrup. Slowly whisk in extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To assemble, add the kale ribbons to a medium bowl and massage the leaves with a generous pinch of salt. Drain the fennel and add to the kale with the apples, cranberries, pecans and crumbles of goat cheese. Add dressing and mix thoroughly.
Per serving: Calories 570; Total Fat 40 g; Saturated Fat 10 g; Protein 13 g; Carbohydrate 48 g; Sugar 34 g; Fiber 9 g; Cholesterol 22 mg; Sodium 433 mg