Ode to Kale: 5 ways to love this vegetable

May 8, 2011

Author: Neighborhood Farm Initiative

Category: General News

Editor’s note: As many readers of this blog may know, kale is my favorite. So when reader Abbie S. sent this blog post in, I was ecstatic! Plus, the Red Russian kale at our Fort Totten site has also bolted and flowered recently, so I’m happy to share all of Abbie’s suggestions about how to use it.

As the days get longer and especially as they get warmer, some of those glorious cold season crops can get really stressed out. One of my favorites is Kale, which loves cool weather and tastes especially sweet after a light frost.
This Red Russian Kale was planted from seed in my garden just as the temperatures began to get cold last fall and it began to sprout upwards just as they began to get warm again early this spring. Now that we have had some 80 degree humid days, they are starting to Bolt and though I have pulled off their flower heads to keep them focused on their leaves a bit longer, pretty soon all my plants will be shooting up to the sky with hopes of blooming. Before that happens, I plan to use it all and what follows are some of my favorite ways to eat Kale!

#1 – Raw!
Kale can be really tender and sweet, and tastes great fresh out of the ground. It is an excellent source of nutrients that are most readily available in this unadulterated form. If you haven’t eaten kale this way, grab a fresh cut piece and give it a try.

#2 – Massaged!
Giving Kale a nice, luxurious rub-down really helps to bring out its flavor and soften its texture. My roommates ate the above Kale massaged with just a bit of olive oil and lemon. Add a bit of garlic and you will have a finger-lickin good start to a salad. Using freshly cleaned hands, toss the whole business together (salt and pepper are good additions), squeeze and rub the kale and let the flavors mix together.

#3 – In a Salad!
Take either raw or massaged kale and throw it together in a salad. This Kale, crouton, pepper, corn and egg salad made for a delectable dinner. We topped it with a garlic, mustard, lime and olive oil dressing (with a dash of salt, pepper and sugar) and couldn’t have been more pleased with the product.

#4 – As Chips!
A great alternative to the potato variety, kale chips are really tasty and really easy to make. Though many people use a dehydrator, it is also easy and quick to make them in your oven. Remove Kale from their stems/stalks and rip leaves into small even pieces. Toss those pieces in a bowl with seasonings of your choice. My favorite combination is olive oil (not too much or else the chips will be soggy), salt, paprika, garlic and nutritional yeast. Once each piece is evenly coated, spread them in one layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cook in an over preheated to 350o for 12 to 14 minutes or until crispy! Then enjoy!

#5 – Kale Pesto!
When you are overrun with a lot of Kale (which I am now! Eik!), making it into a pesto or spread is a great way to preserve it and continue to enjoy it. Wash and cut your kale so that you have about 3 cups with out stems. Toast a ¼ cup of cashews in the oven for about 10 minutes. Peel 2 cloves of garlic and cut them in half. Gather all of your ingredients together in a food processor (kale, cashews and garlic plus ½ tsp lemon zest, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste) and blend until smooth. Enjoy on crackers, pasta, grains or right of your spoon!

If all this talk of Kale is inspiring you to grow your own, remember that Kale doesn’t love the heat of the summer (which doesn’t mean it can’t be grown with proper care). That being said, mark your calendar to plant it from seed in the end of July or in August or September for a fall harvest. Or, do like my roommate and spread around the seeds just before it gets really cold and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when new plants pop up next spring.

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