This deep green leafy vegetable began to make a comeback in popularity within the last five years. It was nowhere and then everywhere overnight — kale chips, salads, added to soups, juices.
Recipes and food-related magazines began to feature the healthy super food. Kale had been living in the shadows for too long. It is more than an ingredient to a vegan hippy stir-fry; kale is for everyone! It tastes delicious, too.
Kale is included in the Brassica family with broccoli and cabbage, which means to us Wisconsinites that it’s hardy and able to be planted super early in the spring and will grow late into autumn. The flavor actually softens after a light frost. There are many varieties for consumption, the most common being curly leaved, red Russian and my favorite, Lacinato or Dinosaur kale, which makes great salad and ultimately tastes the best.
This super food is extremely high in calcium, vitamins K, C and A, and nutrients. Kale is good for your bones, eyes and skin. It is high in fiber, which we all know is just plain good. My sister has a sticker on her car, “Eat More Kale.” I couldn’t agree more.
Juice It! Green Juice
(This recipe is adapted from Mean Green, a juice in 101 Juice Recipes by Joe Cross.)
Makes two servings. You will need an electric juicer.
1 bunch of kale, any variety, stems and all
4 green apples, cut into chunks
1 cucumber, whole
1 lemon, peel and all
1 big chunk of ginger (to taste)
4 stalks of celery
Process all vegetables in your juicer. Pour into a glass and chug. This is a great way to start your day. This juice gives you energy and a little hop in your step.
Bake it!: Kale Chips
1 bunch of Lacinato Kale, stems removed and cut into large, leafy pieces
drizzle of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
other dried spices and herbs for flavor
Preheat oven to 300°F. Place the kale pieces in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss to ensure all pieces are just lightly coated in oil. Place in a single layer on a covered sheet pan (I use a Silpat; if you don’t have one, parchment paper works great). Sprinkle with salt, pepper and other spices of your choice. Bake for five to 10 minutes, flip and then bake for another five minutes. They are done when they are stiff and crunchy. Kale chips are fun to add as a garnish or to eat on their lonesome as a healthy snack. Yum.
Drown It! Bean and Pasta Soup with Kale
1 Tbsp butter
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 bay leave
bouquet of fresh thyme, marjoram or oregano
In a stockpot over medium-high heat, sauté the onion, garlic and herbs for approximately five minutes, until onions are translucent.
Add to the kettle:
2 cartons of chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
1 can of great northern beans, rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 lb Italian sausage, browned (if you purchase this in links, remove from casings)
salt and pepper to taste
Simmer over medium-high heat for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
Add to the soup five minutes before serving:
½ pound orecchiette pasta, precooked
1 bunch of kale, cut into small pieces with stems removed
Garnish with Parmesan cheese curls and cracked black pepper. This soup makes a great simple dinner on a cool autumn evening. Pair with crusty bread and a chilled Pinot Grigio.