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What the Heck Is Kale?

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What the Heck Is Kale?

Kale is a type of cabbage with firm, curly leaves that do not form a head. It is usually deep green or purple, and is more closely related to wild cabbage than other popular varieties.

Through much of history, kale was among the most commonly grown vegetables throughout Europe. Because it was highly nutritious and easy to grow, the British government encouraged citizens to grow kale during World War II to make up for nutrients potentially lost due to rationing because of rationing.

Kale is a rich source of beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, and calcium. It has also been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The leaves, with stems removed, can be used in the same way as other leafy greens, such as cabbage or spinach, including in salads, soups, stir-fries, or pasta dishes. Because kale is firmer in texture than most other greens, it can add much-needed texture to some recipes, even when cooked.

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Kale can simply be thrown into a freezer bag in-season for use throughout the year. In fact, some say freezing enhances the plant’s flavor.

Try one of these tasty kale recipes tonight, or experiment with it on your own. It can easily be substituted into recipes that call for spinach or other greens.

Potato Kale Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 cup diced celery
2 red potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups kale
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse kale, remove stems, and chop into fine pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon broth in a medium soup pot. Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute. Add broth, carrots, and celery and bring to a boil on high heat.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes. Add potatoes and kale, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 more minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook another 5 minutes.

Sautéed Kale

1 1/2 pounds young kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until soft. Raise heat to high, add the broth and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.

Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove the leaves from the stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Bake until the edges brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

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1 Esther Theobbles { 05.23.13 at 4:55 pm }

This is my first time growing kale. I juice three leaves, three carrots, one beet, one apple, two bell peppers and three stalks celery. It’s a good combination and very nutritious.

I also boil salted fish for ten minutes twice to remove the salt then add three leaves of kale, four okras, one onion, one bell pepper, two stalks of celery and three cloves of garlic (mashed) to 1/2 cup olive oil, cover and sautee till soft. It is good to eat with bread or on rice.

2 Angie { 03.07.13 at 12:59 am }

Our bunnies love kale! They are rather picky about their greens (they will NOT eat mustard greens and will turn their little noses up at certain lettuces, but kale is a staple in their diet).
I have never tried preparing kale, but I think the kale chips recipe looks like a winner, so we may end up fighting the rabbits for rights to the “bunny’s candy”…
Thanks for the recipe!

3 Jane { 02.08.12 at 9:58 pm }

Thanks, FoodMagick, for the recommendation of kale chips. I heard someone else say they were wonderful, but wasn’t sure I wanted to try them on one person’s word. But, you’ve convinced me, so I’m going to try Jaime’s recipe as soon as I can bring some home from the store!

4 Tammy { 08.31.11 at 10:42 am }

I cooked a couple pieces of chopped up bacon with onoin and garlic , add a little olive oil and chopped up Kale (atleast two big handfuls) it cooks down, stem too, mix all together gently while cooking for 2-3 min….season to taste

5 stephan guez { 08.28.11 at 1:20 am }

Hello! Kale is incredible. I typically DO NOT REMOVE the stems. Instead, i chop the kale very fine and sautee. The heat softens the kale stems rather quickly. I use olive oil and i make sure the pan is at medium heat because if the kale burns, it stinks and dries out. Cheers!

6 GardenGal68 { 06.01.11 at 4:46 pm }

I put raw kale into my smoothies. The one I like best is apple juice, banana, 3-5 leaves of kale and a bunch of ice. Yum!!! You can also add a leaf or two to any smoothie just for the good health benefits.

7 Frutero { 06.01.11 at 2:12 pm }

Mild collards can be used the same way. The ones I grow are Georgias. If you cut the bottom leaves from the rosette, the plant will last two or three years in warm climates.

8 MA { 11.15.10 at 5:05 pm }

I love kale soup. Where I live, it is very popular. A lot of people make it differently, with one or two different ingredients. You can find all the recipes for kale soup on cooking websites.

9 FoodMagick { 10.06.10 at 2:34 pm }

Kale chips are awesome with any variety of seasonings, and they’re a great way to deliver high nutrient content to the veggie-averse!

10 DUFFY { 10.05.10 at 8:00 pm }


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