Crazy for Kale

This nutritious, lettuce-like vegetable is grown mainly in the fall season and is preferably harvested after the first frost, which sweetens the naturally bitter tasting leaves. From August well into the winter months it is harvested and sold in bunches at Farmers’ Markets across Nova Scotia. If you’re growing kale at home, the outer leaves can be continuously picked during the fall and this will not inhibit growth of the plant.

Stored in a cold, humid environment, in a sealed plastic bag, kale can be kept for up to 10 days or even for a period of months when kept below minus 3° C. A yellow colour around the edges of the leaves is a sign of age and damage and these leaves should be removed before cooking or eating along with its strong and fibrous stock.

Kale is very high in calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. Vitamin A is good for eyes and skin health as well as to protect against infection. Vitamin K is required for blood coagulation and involved in the maintenance of healthy bones. Kale also contains sulforaphane which is known to have potent anti-cancer properties.

Uncooked kale is used for garnish, and cooked kale is a very healthy additive to most any meal. Boiling will decrease vitamin C and anti-cancer properties; however, you can still get these benefits if you use or drink the water/soup that the kale was boiled in. Stir-frying, microwaving, and steaming will cause less nutrient loss than boiling.

Here are some great recipes to try:

QUICK KALE SOUP

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; sauté onion, garlic, sage, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add stock, 3 cups (750 mL) water, potato, ham, red pepper and chickpeas; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, 15 minutes. Add kale; simmer until tender, about 5 minutes.

KALE, BEAN AND SAUSAGE SOUP
From epicurious.com

1 Tbsp olive oil
6 oz kielbasa or linguiça sausage, cut into thin rounds
1 medium onion, chopped
2 3/4 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1/2 large bunch kale, stems cut away, leaves thinly sliced
1 15-oz can small white beans, drained
3/4 cup dry white wine

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add sausage and onion; Sauté until onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Add broth and kale; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Add beans and wine. Cook until kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

KALE WITH ONION AND GARLIC

1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/4 lemon
1/2 cup of vegetable broth or water
sea salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

Warm olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and cook for 3-5 minutes or until slightly translucent. Be sure to stir the onions around once in a while so that they don’t burn. Add garlic and kale and mix them together with onions. Allow garlic, kale and onions to cook for one minute, then add vegetable broth and cover pot or pan for 4-6 minutes. Check kale from time to time starting at the 4 minute mark for tenderness. Once kale is tender, add sea salt and just a few drops of lemon juice. Give it one last stir and serve.

KALE PESTO
Makes approx 500ml, time to prepare 30 minutes

3 tightly packed cups fresh kale, stalk removed, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil
3/4 cup toasted or raw sunflower seeds
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3-4 cloves of garlic
½ cup fresh oregano, marjoram or basil, lightly packed
water, as needed
salt to taste

Start by placing a small amount of kale into a food processor. Add the lemon juice. Periodically push the kale down, as it doesn’t mix easily. If it doesn’t mix well, add a small amount of water until the kale begins to break apart. Continue to add the kale, and water as needed, and slowly begin adding the garlic, herbs and seeds. Mix roughly. Keep running the food processor on the lowest speed and slowly add the oil. Blend well, place into a jar with a tight lid.

This pesto can be used on sandwiches, pastas and other favourite dishes.

BAKED KALE CHIPS
From Smitten Kitchen

1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Don’t add too much! I overdid it and as a result my kale chips were rather lip-puckeringly salty. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.

You can also grind these chips into a powder and sprinkle over popcorn with parmesan cheese.

BLUEBERRY AND KALE SMOOTHIE
Serves 1

2 cups chopped kale, lightly packed
1 small apple
1/4 cup of frozen cranberries
1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp chia seeds or ground flax
1/2 cup cranberry juice (or your favourite type of juice)

Chop kale into small pieces and add to the blender. Add fruit, juice, and chia seeds and blend on highest setting. This will likely take at least thirty seconds but it will depend on what type of blender you have. You may want to add a little more juice depending on how thick you want it to be. When everything seems to be blended to perfection, pour and enjoy! This quantity is good for one large serving or two smaller servings. It will fit nicely into a mason jar to take with you on the go.

Updated from posts originally published in 2011, 2012 and 2013

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