Kale is a magnificent vegetable in the kitchen garden: tall, stately plants with serrated, crinkled or feathery leaves and eye-popping colors of blue-green, purple, red, pale green, white and yellow. This attractive, nonheading member of the cabbage family has been cultivated for over 2000 years. Kale is very happy in cooler climates like ours, and the flavor is often best in the winter.
The French term for kale is chou frise, or curly cabbage. In German, kale is Krauskohl, crispy cabbage, and Spanish is cabbage waves, or col rizada. The Dutch aptly describe my favorite vegetable as boerenkool, farm vegetable.
The darling of food nutritionists, kale packs a whale of health benefits including Vitamins A, C & K, plus antioxidants and fiber. Benjamin Franklin is credited with wisely bringing the first kale seeds to the United States from Scotland. A daily serving of kale, as in a Wild Blueberry and Kale Smoothie, packs over 600 percent of the daily value of Vitamin K, a vitamin important for bone health, particularly as we age.
This is the perfect season to be enjoying a big bunch kale, and Maine farmer’s markets, food coops and farm stands are packed with this delicious green. Although the flavor of kale; bright, almost sweet and spicy, with earthy or minerally overtones is delicious, most folks can’t get beyond the first “chew”, particularly in salads. The challenge becomes how to introduce this hardy peasant food to the plate and palate.
In addition to smoothies, kale can be chopped and added to soups and sauces, adding a depth of flavor. Kale Chips are an easy family recipe to prepare, and a favorite
with everyone. Who doesn’t love crispy and salty? Feeling adventurous and seeking a festive salad? Be sure to massage the oil into the leaves when you prepare Watermelon Radish and Kale Salad.
Once kale becomes a daily vegetable in your food choices, it’s a decision you won’t regret. Kale delivers more health benefits than broccoli, can easily be grown in the home garden, and is available all year. What’s not to love about kale?
BAKED KALE CHIPS
- 1 bunch kale about ½ pound
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Maine sea salt
- Fresh pepper
- Assemble ingredients and tools. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Wash and dry the kale. Cut or pull the leaves away from the stem, composting the stems. Tear the leaves into pieces into a large bowl.
- Add the olive oil and some salt and pepper to the bowl, and work the oil and seasonings into the kale with your hands or “massage the leaves.”
- Spread the kale on the baking sheet pans. Bake the pieces for 10 minutes, then check the pans and turn if needed. Continue baking for a total time of 30 – 40 minutes, checking and turning every 10 minutes until the kale chips are dark green and nice and crispy.
- Remove from oven, sprinkle with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Turn out into a bowl for snacking.
WILD BLUEBERRY KALE SMOOTHIE
- 1- cup apple juice
- 1 cup full-fat plain or vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup packed kale pieces
- 1 cup frozen wild Maine blueberries
- Puree all ingredients in the blender. Pour into 2 glasses and enjoy!
WATERMELON RADISH & KALE SALAD
- 2 in medium watermelon radishes each about 2 inchesdiameter (6 ounces)
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon Sea salt
- 1 bunch kale 8 ounces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame or pumpkin seed oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs (parsley rosemary, thyme, mint)
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- ¼ cup sesame sunflower or pumpkin seeds, toasted
- Scrub the watermelon radishes. Thinly slice with a mandolin or sharp chef’s knife.
- In a medium bowl, combine the white wine vinegar, cane sugar, and sea salt. Add the radishes, making sure that the slices are well coated. Set aside and let marinate for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours refrigerated.
- Wash the kale and cut off the tough stems. Slice the kale chiffonade (into ¼ inch ribbons). In a large bowl, whisk together the oils, lemon juice and fresh herbs. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper. Add the kale to the bowl and massage and mix with your hands until the leaves are well coated and start to soften.
- To serve the salad, drain the radishes. Line a platter with some watermelon radish slices, mound the kale over and garnish with more radishes. Sprinkle the top with the toasted seeds and serve.