If you haven’t jumped on the kale bandwagon yet, you may have been living in a cave—or you simply don’t like dark green leafy vegetables. Kale has been having a moment lately. It’s hot; it’s trendy. So trendy, in fact, that it’s experiencing a backlash of sorts among food critics who are scoff at our recent national obsession with a vegetable that has been a staple of European cuisine for centuries. But don’t let any of that discourage you from trying this crunchy, leafy vegetable. Trendiness aside, there’s plenty to love about kale. For starters, it’s extraordinary healthful.
Kale is a member of the Brassica family of vegetables. Better-known members of this superfood family include broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage, among others. Sometimes called leaf cabbage, kale may be closer to wild cabbage than the pale green or red compact cabbage heads that are familiar to most people. Rather than forming heads, kale grows more like lettuce, and features loose, textured leaves.
Kale and other Brassica vegetables are excellent sources of numerous important nutrients. Kale, for example, supplies ample iron, fiber, potassium, vitamins C, K, and B6; and antioxidants, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, alpha-lipoic acid, and beta-carotene (which is converted in the body to vitamin A). Kale is also a significant source of the essential micronutrient, manganese, supplying up to one third of the daily requirement in a single serving.
No matter how you slice it, kale is a highly healthful superfood. If you haven’t tried it yet, it may be time to add this vegetable to your repertoire. Here are some simple recipes to get you started:
• 1/2 lb. kale (about one bunch)
• 1-2 garlic cloves sliced, or minced
• 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small sprig fresh rosemary
• 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
• 1/2 c. white or yellow onion, sliced
• ground black pepper
• kosher salt
• Splash of lemon juice
• Bring a pot of water to boil. Add kale leaves and blanch for 2 minutes.
• Drain kale and allow to cool.
• Dry leaves with paper towels, then chop.
• Add olive oil, rosemary sprig, and red pepper flakes to a large pot and heat on medium until oil sizzles.
• Reduce to medium-low and add onion.
• Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
• Add garlic and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring often to avoid scorching onions or garlic.
• Add another splash of oil and kale. Add salt and pepper to taste.
• Reduce heat slightly and continue to cook kale mixture for 25-30 minutes. Stir often.
• Let cool slightly, sprinkle with a splash of fresh lemon juice, and serve warm.
Homemade Kale Chips
• 1 lb. kale, leaves thoroughly washed, then thoroughly dried between ample paper towels or clean dish towels. (For this recipe to succeed it’s essential to get all the water out of the nooks and crannies of the leaves.)
• 2-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
• seasoning blend of your choice
• sea salt
• Preheat oven to 275° F
• Cut ribs from leaves.
• Tear or cut leaves into bite-size pieces.
• In a large bowl, toss leaves with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoning blend and/or sea salt, to preference.
• Arrange leaf pieces on parchment-covered cookie or baking sheet. Do not crowd pieces.
• Bake, turning once, approximately 20 minutes. Leaves should be crisp. Serve as a healthful snack.