Kale is part of the cabbage family, which includes broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts, and comes in many varieties and colours. The flavour can range from mild and sweet to slightly bitter with a cabbage-like flavour. Kale is often eaten raw in salads, sautéed in olive oil, braised in a flavourful stock, added to soups and stews, baked into kale chips and pizza, or blended into morning smoothies.
The National Post says it best when describing the health benefits of kale: “…eaten raw, a cup of kale provides more Vitamin C than an orange, along with 2 days’ worth of Vitamin A, and a week’s worth of Vitamin K. Cooking kale can destroy some of the vitamin C, but the vitamin A and vitamin K content increase. On top of that, a serving of cooked kale provides about 10% of our calcium needs for a day, about the same amount as a 100-gram container of yogurt.”
How to Pick Kale:
Select kale with crisp and brightly coloured leaves. Avoid leaves that are browning, turning yellow, or limp.
There are several varieties; the most common you’ll find is curly leafed kale and dinosaur kale.
Curly kale is just that. Course, thick, tightly curled tough leaves with a flavour that is slightly stronger than dinosaur kale.
Dinosaur kale also called cavolo nero, black, or Tuscan kale. Its leaves are spear-like in shape with an embossed, pebble-like surface. Its flavour is slightly sweet and mild.
If you see a variety that looks like an over-sized arugula leaf – that’s Russian Red.
How to Store Kale:
Stored tightly wrapped in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, it can last up to five days. Only wash just before you’re ready to use it. If it’s stored slightly damp, it will spoil faster.
How to Prepare Kale:
When prepping, you want to discard any yellow leaves or leaves that are wilting.
Because there are many crevices within the leaves, you should soak them in a cold-water bath in your sink or a large pot, and swirl them around to get all the grit out. You may want to repeat this process twice. Once this is done, you want to remove the leaves from the tough stalk. The easiest way to prepare it is to tear the leaves from the centre stalk, then shred or chop the leaves. The stalks can be chopped into ¼ inch thick pieces.
Kale can be prepared in a variety of ways, including blanching, boiling, braising, sautéing, steaming, and stir-frying. Also, try adding chopped kale to a soup, stew or your favourite juice blend for a healthy green juice.
1 pound = 12 cups chopped = 3 cups cooked
Kary’s Kale Tips:
- Want to have cooked kale on hand year-round? Cook a double batch and store half in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To save limp kale, soak it in ice-cold water – it should crisp up.
- Smaller leaves are tender compared to larger leaves, making them perfect for salads.
- Try chopping into thin ribbons for a salad, it looks fancy and makes it tender to eat.
- To maximize nutrition and flavour, steam for 5 minutes.
- Blanching in salted boiling water before using will tenderize and reduce bitterness, as well as set its beautiful colour.
- Kale makes a great snack too! After it’s been cleaned and dried, tear it into bite size pieces, toss with a little olive, add salt to taste, and bake until crispy.
What Does Kale Go Well With?
Kale goes well with: Garlic, yellow onions, red pepper flakes, salt, chicken stock, sausage, and thyme.