Kale has been cultivated over 2000 years and was the most commonly eaten green in Europe until the end of the Middle Ages! Kale is a member of the brassica family (like cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts) and is thought to have descended from wild cabbage. Kale has long been one of the most popular greens due to its comparatively mild taste. Varieties include curly green, lacinato (also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale) and Russian red kale.
BEST STORAGE PRACTICES:
Store in a bag in the veggie crisper (32-36 degrees F). Use within a few days.
FUN WAYS TO EAT AND COOK:
Try it raw in a salad! Lacinato and Russian red kale are naturally sweeter, and especially good finely chopped and left raw in salads. Adding lemon and oil can help to soften the leaf. Lightly sauté, stir-fry or add to stews and soups – any kale variety works nicely, but curly green kale has a light peppery quality that adds nice flavor to warm dishes.
Choose kale with vivid coloring. Curly green kale should be a rich green, lacinato kale should have a dark green, almost bluish hue, and red Russian kale should be a bright purple. Avoid leaves with yellowing, bruising and holes.
WHY IT’S GOOD TO EAT:
- One cup of kale provides more than the daily requirement of vitamins A and C
- Kale is a good source of calcium and fiber
- Helps lower cholesterol and improves cell detox functions
- High dosage of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer nutrients
WHEN IT’S IN SEASON:
Kale can grow in spring, fall and winter. Kale from the winter months tends to have a sweeter taste brought out by the cold, which can be preferable.
HOW IT’S HARVESTED:
Kale leaves sprout off of a stalk. The largest leaves should be cut first. Cutting less than one third of the leaves at a time allows the plant to regrow and be good for multiple harvests.
Kale Salad – finely chop washed kale and put in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix 3 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp mustard, then pour over the kale. Gently massage the dressing into the kale and let sit for 15 minutes. Garnish with Parmesan, salt and pepper. Additional toppings could include nuts, apples, raisins or even chili powder.
Simple Sautéed Kale – Brown an onion and 2 cloves of garlic in olive oil. Add roughly cut pieces of washed kale and sauté until color brightens and leaves become tender, just a couple of minutes. Season to taste and serve while warm.