Friday, March 20, 2009

Whale of a kale

I grew my first two rows of kale last fall. I planted them in September, and I was able to harvest kale all through the winter with no protection at all. I've been snipping leaves here and there, but it just seems to keep growing back. I know the kale plants will soon be bolting, and I've seen the dreaded white moths fluttering around. I must find a way to use up my kale!

Row 1 - Kale and Parsnips

According to Jonny Bowden, nutritionist and author of 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, kale has the highest "ORAC" (anti-oxidant and phytochemical) rating of any vegetable. Spinach comes in second place. This leafy vegetable is loaded with calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C and K. It has 7 times the beta-carotene of broccoli, and two cups of kale has 4 g protein and 3 g fiber.

Row 2 - Kale by the garlic

This is also the first year that I've ever eaten kale. I'm learning a lot! Since it's so healthy, and we have so much of it, I've been trying to sneak it in to our meals wherever possible. So far I've discovered these ways to use it:

- Add shredded kale to regular pasta sauce

- Add to soups or stews (minestrone, bean soups)

- Sneak small pieces into quesadillas and burritos

- Add small pieces into salads with the rest of your mixed greens

- Saute it with olive oil and lemon juice for a quick side dish

- Steam it and add sesame oil, soy sauce, a dash of honey, and dried cranberries and sliced almonds for a hot salad

- Use as a topping for loaded baked potatoes

- Juice a bunch with a lemon and two apples to make "Green Lemonade" (I've only tried this with spinach, actually - but I think kale would work)

- Apparently it's a prime ingredient in the traditional Irish dish, colcannon. Too bad I didn't know that in time for St. Patty's Day!

Does anyone have other suggestions or recipes to use up our crop of kale?


Chile said...

Kale and potatoes are a classic combination. There should be plenty of tasty soup recipes online using them, or just wing it with onion, garlic, potatoes and kale. You can mash some of the cooked potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the soup.

Theresa said...

You can probably dry it. I dried a whole bunch of chard and other greens from my CSA last summer by cutting off the big thick stems, putting the leafy parts on cookie sheets and leaving them in the car in the sun for a day or two. I even just hung some upside down in my basement, in bunches, like you would with herbs, and this worked quite well. I use the dried stuff in soup - it gives it a really rich flavor.

I also just love to eat fresh kale sauteed in some butter and/or sesame oil with some garlic, and then some sesame seeds thrown on top. Very tasty :)

SusanB said...

Colcannon is one of my favorite foods. I always feel healthier eating it, an instant boost when the ingredients are really fresh.

Chile said...

Theresa's comment reminded me that greens freeze well, too. Just blanch them briefly, squeeze some of the water out, put in a baggie, and toss in the freezer. While we're inundated with greens through the CSA in the winter, it was really nice last summer to be pulling out baggies of frozen pak choi for weeks!

Anonymous said...

Our kale is still buried under a foot of snow. But roasted kale looks really tasty:

Dehydrated kale can also be added to lots of things.

Emily said...

Julie said...

I can eat mounds of it almost every night just sauteed/steamed in lightly browned butter. There's something about the brown butter that brings out the nuttiness of the kale. My favorite winter veggie, which deer got into this year.

Heather said...

OOOooo! I love kale. My Kenyan roommate when I lived in Pittsburgh, PA always made sukuma wiki with it. It's actually peasant food there - the name literally means 'push the week' (as in 'stretch your food budget to last the week) - and she was highly entertained that I got her to cook it whenever we had guests. You can find authentic recips on the internet, but here is my take on it:

2-3 tablespoons oil
2 chopped onions
500g kale, squash leaves, bean leaves or other tough greens
3 chopped tomatoes or 1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp stock powder (we usually use chicken)
4 tsp (white tablespoon) ground cummin
4 tsp (white tablespoon) ground coriander
1 cup water (more if needed - greens should be tender with just a coating of fluid when done)
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter (optional - can also use one of the other protein options below)

Roll kale in a tight roll and cut into fine strips, then cut the other way into small pieces. Fry onions in oil till clear. Add tomatoes, kale, stock and spices to onions and saute. Add the liquid and cook on low heat till tender (approx. 20-30 min.). Season to taste. Serve with ugali (a kind of millet porridge - staple in Kenya - you can buy the flour in Pittsburgh, no idea about the rest of the US), chapatis or rice.

With the fluid can add 1/2 cup peanuts, 1 cup cooked kidney beans, around 150g of cooked leftover beef or other plain-cooked meat or even one small tin tuna. After the onions can brown thin strips of raw meat or mince (~200g) before adding the kale.

Have fun!

--Heather from NZ

country mouse said...

If you're a meat eater - Ginger Beef and Kale is wonderful - 1 lb of good steak in thinly sliced strips, some ginger, garlic, onion, hot pepper if you like, sauteed in olive oil, then add some beef stock and a bunch of kale, til it wilts. Yum.

Or heat maple syrup, soy or tamari, and balsamic vinegar together (1:1:1 ratio) and toss in fresh kale, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

I love kale. Mine is dead about I'm about to start a pot of it on the deck.

nomad496 said...

I don't know if this is an option, but when it gets too large and tough for good eating, the chickens will gladly take it off your hands and turn it into eggs. We grow extra for late winter chicken food.

Verde said...

Oh, I see Theresa already mentioned drying it - that's what I surfed over to suggest. Very sneaky way to get it into meals.

TheCrone said...

Caldo Verde! The Portuguese king of soups!
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 whole dried red chillies
4 large potatoes, diced or sliced
6 cups cold water with vegetarian stock powder to taste
1 large bunch kale, chopped finely
fresh ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Toss in the onion, garlic and dried red chillies and stir for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and stir for another 3 minutes.Pour in the water and turn up the heat to bring to a boil.Once boiling, reduce the heat again to medium and let the soup boil gently for 20 minutes.Remove the soup from the heat and take out the red chillies temporarily. If a creamier soup is desired, use a hand blender to roughly purée the vegetables, leaving just a few of the potato chunks unblended for taste and texture.

If you aren't vegetarian you can add some sliced Portuguese chorizo to this soup.

I grow a heap of kale and laughingly call it my famine food stash :)

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Thanks to everyone for the great ideas!

Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife said...

It's not bad in strata either. I've had a Portuguese soup with potato, kale, and Merguez sausage too. Great if you know where to find the Merguez. It ends up in a lot of my soups. I especially like to pair it with either pearl barley or spelt berries in a brothy soup. I freeze a ton of it over the summer months and use it up in the various ways you describe.

Tara said...

I love kale, too! Great sauteed with olive oil, garlic, raisins and pine nuts. Also great with eggs - in an omelette or frittata, with good chorizo and eggs, also, use it to make beans & greens! I routinely use it in pastas and soups, and we like it included in bowls of basic steamed veggies.

risa said...

We use greens of all kinds, and kale right through the year, in bread -- just dice up small and add to the dough.

Anonymous said...

You could add it to a kimchi.