Kale is my favorite dark leafy green vegetable. It does well in my garden, it’s loaded with nutrients, it’s versatile, it tastes great, and it keeps producing well into fall. If you don’t have a garden, you can find kale in the grocery store all year.
Haven’t tried kale yet? Here are five really good reasons for adding kale to your culinary repertoire:
- Flavor: Don’t let the healthful reputation fool you. Kale has a mild flavor, more like spinach than like broccoli or Brussels sprouts (to which it’s related). The flavor makes kale more versatile for cooking.
- Texture: Kale has a much chewier texture than spinach. When cooking with kale, it helps to chop leaves into small pieces; chewing on a whole kale leaf could be off-putting. Add chopped leaves to a grain salald, pasta salad or tossed vegetable salad. You can also add chopped kale to soups or casseroles.
- Vitamins: Kale is an especially good source of vitamin K, as well as vitamins C and A (as carotene). Like most vegetables, kale also includes a variety of B-vitamins.
- Minerals: Like other dark green leafy vegetables, kale is promoted as a good source of calcium. The catch is that the form of calcium in kale may be poorly absorbed. Depending on kale for all your daily calcium needs would mean eating a whole lot of kale everyday (according to USDA FoodData Central, you’d have to eat more than 20 cups of raw kale leaves daily). Other notable minerals include potassium and magnesium.
- Antioxidants: Kale is a very good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that are known to promote eye health.
I admit I’m not a fan of this popular food item. But if you’re curious, here’s the drill.
Making your own kale chips isn't difficult. You can sprinkle with other seasonings or herbs after they're done baking. Examples include garlic powder, curry powder, or chili seasoning.
- 1 large bunch of fresh kale
- 2-4 TB olive oil
- salt to taste
- Step 1 Wash and thoroughly dry a bunch of kale leaves. Use a salad spinner or blot with paper towels to remove water.
- Step 2 Cut or tear the leaves off the stems and tear into chip-sized pieces.
- Step 3 Put the leaf pieces in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat the leaves. It helps to rub the leaves and oil around with your hands. Messy!
- Step 4 Spread the leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Step 5 Bake in a pre-heated 350º oven until the leaf edges are slightly browned, about 15 minutes.
- Step 6 Handle with care. The baked leaves can be crumbly.
One of my favorite ways to use kale is a simple sauté. I wash and tear the leaves as above for the chips. Then sauté them in peanut oil in a moderately hot pan until just wilted. Season with soy sauce and a bit of toasted sesame oil. Serve with sautéed garlic ginger tofu. The best kind of vegan/vegetarian/plant-based meal, because it’s tasty, easy, quick, healthy and hearty.