If you spend much time in the produce department of your grocery store, you cannot fail to notice kale. Until about a decade ago, kale was largely considered a purely ornamental vegetable because of its lovely colors and textures. But there was something about that big leafy green that made it look intimidating to many cooks.
Today, kale is enjoying a major renaissance in its reputation. Kale is now praised as one of the 10 healthiest foods that we can eat. A single cup of kale has a whopping five grams of fiber and a mere 44 calories. Also, one cup of kale has all that you need for a day for both vitamins A and C. It also contains 135 milligrams of calcium. Put all of these facts together, and it is clear why kale sales are up so much.
If you are ever thinking about growing your own kale, you should not buy ornamental kale that you can find in many garden stores for planting in the fall. These plants look stunning but do not taste good. However, the ones that are not as colorful are often tastier and more interesting. You can find kale that is deep green, blue green, grey green and many with stems that are somewhat reddish. Leaves will vary in shape and texture, from jagged to paddle shaped.
Ideas for kale recipes
The small, young kale leaves are a great way to spruce up a salad. You may want to try kale in salads in particular if you are growing it yourself; fresh, young kale from the garden can be very tasty. However, with mature leaves, you will want to cook them to best enjoy their flavor.
Overall, the flavor of this leafy green is much stronger than spinach, but it is not as strong as mustard greens. The sharpness of the flavor of the kale leaf is cut down a lot by boiling it. Try boiling the leaves, not the stems, for several minutes and then take the kale out with a slotted spoon and put it in a colander. After that, you can process it however you wish: chop, stir fry or cream. The color of the kale will remain a strong green and will always look very attractive on the plate.
This is an effective way to always end up with bright, green and tender kale. You can still add kale to your soup after a couple of days when you process it like this. It still stays green after you reheat it after a few days, too.
If you like, you can serve your kale as a side dish. We recommend that you stir fry it with garlic and some virgin olive oil. Also, try to splash it with some fresh lemon juice. Also, you can add kale to soups and stews, or put sautéed kale and raisins with pine nuts for a warm, tasty salad. Or, try kale Florentine and serve it with fresh fish off the grill.
Below are some more tips for cooking with kale:
- With cooked kale, which is the best way to use mature kale, strip off the bitter stems, and then you can use the greens in most stews or soups, or any side dish where you would use Swiss chard or spinach. Remember that mature kale is tough and it will need to be boiled for several minutes to soften it up.
- In a salad, do not use the stem or spine as this is bitter and does not have a good taste. You will need to slice it as thin as you can because kale is rather tough when it is raw.
Keep these tips in mind and you will be able to make some tasty dishes with kale.
About the Author: Lauren Hill is passionate about finding ways to make healthy foods taste delightful. She loves sharing her knowledge and helping others to succeed in the quest for a healthy lifestyle. Lauren is a contributing writer for Hamilton Beach, a kitchen appliance company offering a large selection of blenders, food processors and juicers. Go here to find more healthy recipes.