Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts that have gained recent widespread attention due to their health-promoting, sulfur-containing phytonutrients. It is easy to grow and can grow in colder temperatures where a light frost will produce especially sweet kale leaves. There are several varieties of kale; these include curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (or Lacinato or Tuscan) kale, all of which differ in taste, texture, and appearance. The scientific name for kale is Brassica oleracea.
Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and is usually deep green in color. It has a lively pungent flavor with delicious bitter peppery qualities.
Ornamental kale is a more recently cultivated species that is oftentimes referred to as salad savoy. Its leaves may either be green, white, or purple and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head. Ornamental kale has a more mellow flavor and tender texture.
Dinosaur kale is the common name for the kale variety known as Lacinato or Tuscan kale. It features dark blue-green leaves that have an embossed texture. It has a slightly sweeter and more delicate taste than curly kale.
Like broccoli, cauliflower, and collards, kale is a descendent of the wild cabbage, a plant thought to have originated in Asia Minor and to have been brought to Europe around 600 B.C. by groups of Celtic wanderers. Curly kale played an important role in early European foodways, having been a significant crop during ancient Roman times and a popular vegetable eaten by peasants in the Middle Ages. English settlers brought kale to the United States in the 17th century.
Both ornamental and dinosaur kale are much more recent varieties. Dinosaur kale was discovered in Italy in the late 19th century. Ornamental kale, originally a decorative garden plant, was first cultivated commercially as in the 1980s in California. Ornamental kale is now better known by the name salad savoy.
To store, place kale in a plastic storage bag removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Store in the refrigerator where it will keep for 5 days. The longer it is stored, the more bitter its flavor becomes. Do not wash kale before storing because exposure to water encourages spoilage.
- Kale can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in kale do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they've been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it's easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw kale still has cholesterol-lowering ability—just not as much.
- Kale's risk-lowering benefits for cancer have recently been extended to at least five different types of cancer. These types include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from glucosinolates in kale play a primary role in achieving these risk-lowering benefits.
- Kale is now recognized as providing comprehensive support for the body's detoxification system. New research has shown that the ITCs made from kale's glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level.
- Researchers can now identify over 45 different flavonoids in kale. With kaempferol and quercetin heading the list, kale's flavonoids combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in way that gives kale a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.
Massaged Kale Salad
Christina from Buttermilk has won us over with this delicious garden fresh salad - even me, who swore I would only enjoy kale cooked! :) It has been adapted from the Food Network website.
- 1 bunch kale, stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 mango, diced small (about 1 cup)
- Small handful toasted pepitas ( pumpkin seeds), about 2 rounded tablespoons
In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little kosher salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing.
In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms, and you like how it tastes.
Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango and pepitas. Toss and serve.
Zuppa Toscana, Italian Tuscan Sausage Soup
Yield: About 6 servings
This recipe comes recommended from garden member Brenda who found it on allrecipes.com
It is a good way to use some of the kale that is so abundant from the farm.
1 (16 ounce) package smoked sausage
2 potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 cup chopped onion
6 slices bacon
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups kale - washed, dried, and shredded
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
1 quart water
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
- Layer the sausage links onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until done. Cut in half length-wise, then cut at an angle into 1/2 inch slices.
- Place onions and bacon in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until onions are almost clear.
- Remove bacon and crumble. Set aside.
- Add garlic to the onions and cook an additional 1 minute. Add chicken base or bouillon, water, and potatoes, simmer 15 minutes.
- Add crumbled bacon, sausage, kale, and cream. Simmer 4 minutes and serve.
Kids and grown-ups love this recipe. When roasted, kale becomes crunchy and brittle, a texture seldom found in the greens world. With a little salt and pepper or seasoning of your choice, it makes an excellent appetizer, side dish, or snack.
1 bunch kale
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 F. Strip the leaves from the kale stems, roughly chop, wash, and drain. In a bowl, toss the kale leaves with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake until crispy, about 15 minutes, stirring part way through. It is done roasting when it is brittle, almost paper-like and no longer soft or bendable. Serve immediately.
Delightfully Raw Kale Salad
Yield: 3-4 servings
1 bunch of kale leaves
8 paper thin slices of red onion
¼ c olive oil
¼ c balsamic vinegar (white, if possible)
Pine nuts, toasted (if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste
Clean the kale leaves, remove the stems and cut in ¼ to ½ inch wide strips. Add the onion slices, olive oil and vinegar, and “massage” for a few seconds by hand. Let stand for at least 15 minutes and serve, topped with pine nuts if desired.
Kale with Pine Nuts, Raisins, and Sundried Tomatoes
This is my all-time favorite way to eat kale! The recipe was adapted from a Broccoli Rabe recipe in a Sicilian cooking class that I took, and it can be used with other greens such as escarole, dandelion, or even chard. I usually don't have pine nuts around, so I substitute almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, or nothing at all.
1 bunch kale, washed, de-stemmed, and roughly chopped
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
pinch of nutmeg
5 sundried tomatoes, soaked in hot water until soft and cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring enough water to cover the kale to boil in a pot. Add pinch of salt and kale. Cook until the kale is dark green and tender (a few minutes), drain.
2. In a medium pan, saute garlic in olive oil until golden, add nutmeg, kale, sundried tomatoes, and raisins.
3. Add nuts and season with salt and pepper.