By Paul Rodman
September 27, 2013
National Kale Day is proposed as an annual celebration of eating, growing, and sharing kale throughout America. And it's a great excuse to learn all about this versatile vegetable.
Until the end of the Middle Ages. kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. During World War II, the cultivation of kale in the U.K. was encouraged by the Dig For Victory campaign. The vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet because of rationing.
Enjoying a resurgence in popularity, kale is a vegetable gaining recognition for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, and delicious flavor. Also known as borecole, it is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. A leafy green, kale is available in curly, ornamental, or dinosaur varieties. It belongs to the Brassica family, which includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
Kale's health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K and sulfur containing phytonutrients. One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
A cup of kale provides you with 100mg of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce inflammation. With the added mega-dose of vitamin K, it may help reduce inflammatory problems, such as asthma, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, allergies and sensitivities, acne, colitis, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure and more. Eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vitamin K is abundant in kale but also found in parsley, spinach, collard greens, and animal products such as cheese.
Growing your own.
There are several varieties of kale
You can plant kale anytime from early spring to early summer. If you plant kale late in the summer you can harvest it from fall until the ground freezes in winter.
- Mix 1 1/2 cups of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 25 feet of row into the top 3 to 4 inches of soil.
- Plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep into well-drained, light soil.
- After about 2 weeks, thin the seedlings so that they are spaced 8 to 12 inches apart
- Water the plants regularly but be sure not to overwater them.
Mulch the soil heavily after the first hard freeze; the plants may continue to produce leaves throughout the winter.
- Kale is ready to harvest when the leaves are about the size of your hand.
- Pick about one fistful of leaves per harvest. Avoid picking the terminal bud (found at the top center of the plant) because this will help to keep the plant productive.
- The small, tender leaves can be eaten uncooked and used in salads.
- Cut and cook the larger leaves like spinach, but be sure to remove the ribs before cooking.
- You can store kale as you would any other leafy green; put the kale in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. It should last about 1 week.
- 3 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 10 ounces kale stems removed and chopped
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- Arrange oven racks in center and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 425°. Place a large jelly-roll pan in oven for 5 minutes.
- Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat. Place kale mixture on hot pan, spreading with a silicone spatula to separate leaves. Bake at 425° for 7 minutes. Stir kale. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until edges of leaves are crisp and kale is tender.
- Place kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with vinegar; toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Sandy, I am not sure why people in the Northwest don't grow Kale. They tend to grow Swiss Chard and Spinach, but they don't grow Kale. I do like it but it gets a negative from people that have not had it throughout their lives. I believe it is because they don't know how to cook it property; much like a lot of people do not know how to cook spinach. They want to cook it until it is mushy. The other problem is that those that say they don't like spinach and kale have only had canned; they have never had fresh prepared correctly.
So I am going to try to convert a few people to Kale. LOL Thank you for sharing this and it is nice that, like Swiss Chard and Spinach, you can do a second crop for later harvesting, too. I think that you could blanch it and freeze it, too and then remember when thawing and cooking to only heat it and not over cook it. Wish there were a way to keep it fresh all year.
Sandy, roasting is a wonderful idea and I am going to try that. I happen to be a person that likes a little cider vinegar drizzled over my greens, but some don't and so lemon juice is another suggestion for those that are not vinegar enthusiasts. My grandsons prefer lemon juice so it is worth a try.
This is a great way to fix it as I am not a roasting vegetables" convert. LOL
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 bunches kale, stems and tough ribs removed, leaves very finely chopped (6 c.)
In a large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, chili powder and salt. Add kale, toss to combine and serve.
Experiment adding dried cranberries or cherries, walnuts, slivered almonds or pumpkin seeds, goat cheese or gorgonzola, scallions or red onion, apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar.
For a sweeter dressing add orange juice & honey to the dressing or for a more SW flavor add equal parts olive oil, lemon & raspberry-jalapeno jam and add raspberries and pine nuts.
For an Asian flavor, change up the lemon juice for rice wine vinegar, add a dash of sesame seed oil & top with sesame seeds.
It isn't necessary to cut the kale into small pieces if you don't want to. The secret to softening the kale up is to use the salt, lemon and olive oil and massage it into the kale for 2-3 minutes.
Linda, when I first started cooking kale, my recipes called for cooking it to death in a pot It loses a lot of the nutrition that way and tastes rather strong. With few exceptions, like tomatoes, canned vegetables taste horrible. Frozen is second best to fresh. Roasting though, as Diane can attest to, makes vegetables taste wonderful and salads...what's not to love about a well-made, crispy, green salad (my father was an exception, he much, much preferred a cooked vegetable with butter to eating them raw). I long ago abandoned the iceberg lettuce except to use in tacos.
Sandy, I did the same with iceberg and the only time I get it is the same as you, for tacos or taco salad. I think it holds up best for that. My salad choice is a combination of greens with Romaine as a base and then add baby spinach, red leaf, and so many others. My Mom used to make wilted lettuce and would use different greens for that, too. Iceberg is good when making a wedge-type of salad and where you cut it into a nice sized wedge.
Wedge-sized iceberg salad is very dietetic until you put on the blue cheese dressing & crumbled bacon and I've never believed in using a little blue cheese on anything. LOL
I know, it is hard, isn't it? Sandy, I have started using a Raspberry VInegarette dressing that is low calorie and it really is nice. Not as good as blue cheese, but it is not bad at all. I remember trying the lemon juice over salad and just can't do that; I love lemon, just not as the only dressing on a green salad.
I will be cooking Kale this week, Sandy, in the oven. What a great recipe. I love kale in soups (lentil especially) and I love swiss chard and spinach.
Linda, the greeks use fresh lemon and olive oil on their salads. Delicious!
We need a few furlough family recipes.....we are thinking of skipping one meal a day LOL!