Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kale is the New Zucchini

We all know the health benefits of kale, the dark green leafy vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family. I have grown kale in my garden for the last couple of summers, but my husband and I are almost the only people I know who actually eat the stuff.

Kale is amazingly hardy and grows abundantly without much attention. If you cut it, it just grows back - like leaf lettuce. So, once the kale is ready in July, I go out with a couple of plastic grocery store bags, cramming them full of only the very biggest kale leaves from the two half rows I planted, and repeat every two weeks until AFTER the last frost, which is supposed to make the leaves even more tasty. A bag or two of kale leaves, after washing, stripping the stems, and cooking to wilt in just the water left on the leaves, gives you enough kale to fill most of a quart-size ziplock bag for the freezer. I've still got half a dozen of these bags in my freezer now, and I just planted kale again - only one half row this year.

I try to convince others in my family of the benefits of kale, but can only get one daughter to take a little bunch once in awhile for her great minestrone soup. Just like gardeners with tons of zucchini in August and September will thrust a bag of free veggies (!) on friend and foe alike, I want to do the same with kale, BUT..... Zucchini is fairly tasteless on its own and can even be used for muffins and quick breads. Kale, on the other hand, has a "robust" taste - not for the timid - and has to stand mostly on its own. Here's the formula (note that I don't say "recipe") for some good potato-kale soup, similar to Caldo Verde:

1. Saute a bunch of chopped onions and 1-2 minced garlic cloves with some leftover small ham cubes (or in olive oil) in a soup pot until wilted.

2. Peel 3 large or 4 small all purpose potatoes and cut into small chunks.

3. Throw the potatoes into the pot and add a quart or so of some kind of stock.

4. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are almost soft.

5. Add 1 1/2 - 2 cups of chopped cooked kale and simmer another 10 minutes.

6. Season to taste and serve. This is good topped with grated parmesan cheese.

Does anyone have any other good recipes for kale? I'm desperately interested!


  1. I love kale! It's a great vegetable. It's not just for lining the salad bar at Sizzler anymore! I may try growing some one of these days.

  2. kale!! i LOVE kale, and it is sooo good for you. if i lived in ur town, i'd be raiding your kale patch often! but i don't EVER boil it, which is mostly how it's cooked down here in the south. hmmm...i just tried to give you a great recipe, but your comment thing limits the space, too. ha. maybe i'll cook some tonight and take photos! stay tuned and check out my blog later.

  3. ufda...i have HOMEWORK tonight...will try to blog later this week....

  4. I have yet to try Kale--it's just too expensive!

    That's what you should do with the extra--sell it for less than $4 a bunch!! :)

    Ant tips on getting the bitterness out of turnips? I made baked turnip fries the other evening, but was really turned off by the bitter taste...yuck.

  5. Turnip fries? Never heard of those. Try sweet potato oven fries instead - yummy! Maj. Reader

  6. Andrew made something like this last month. It was really good. www.paula-wolfert.com/recipes/kale_beans.html


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