When Did Kale Become So Popular?
The following is an archived post
Kale, that cousin to collard greens, has recently been enjoying some culinary celebrity. No longer just a staple in vegan restaurants, kale is making an appearance on many restaurant menus. There is even a folk artist in Vermont who can’t keep enough “Eat More Kale” t-shirts in stock. Who knew?
The truth is, Kale has probably gained attention for its nutritional benefits, availability and price.
What is kale exactly?
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that is in the same cabbage family as broccoli and cauliflower. Filled with fiber, Kale contains essential nutrients such as calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and K as well as the antioxidants lutein and beta-carotene. It also contains the phytochemicals sulforaphane and indole, which research suggests may protect us against cancer.
As a hearty vegetable, kale grows well in cooler weather and can thrive in many places around the world. Due to this and its nutritional benefits, it is truly a value vegetable.
Many first-time kale eaters will find raw kale’s taste slightly bitter, but you can reduce that bitterness through cooking. You can also look for smaller, darker leaves for a milder taste. Before preparation, it’s important to wash the leaves thoroughly: submerge them in cool water, rotating them with your hands to be sure they are free of any residue.
There are a number of varieties of kale with different colors and leaf types. Try it steamed, stir-fried and in salads. Add to soups and sandwiches!
Try the recipe below for a twist on a classic!
Simple Kale Caesar Salad
1 bunch Tuscan kale
1-2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
Red pepper flakes – optional
Parmesan cheese (roughly 1/3 cup when grated), plus additional
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
Freshly ground pepper
Croutons – optional
Trim and discard the bottom 1-2 inches from the stems of your kale. Separate the stems of the kale from the leaves. Chop leaves.
For Dressing: Place the garlic in a large bowl. Squeeze the juice from half of the lemon into the bowl. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Add the cheese and stir or whisk to combine. Add the extra virgin olive oil, pouring slowly and stirring or whisking until the oil is well incorporated into the dressing. (The dressing should be quite thick, but still moist. If the dressing seems too thick, add more olive oil; if the dressing doesn’t seem thick enough, grate more Parmesan cheese into it. Stir or whisk to combine.)
Season dressing lightly with sea salt and liberally with freshly ground pepper. Add the chopped kale leaves to the bowl of dressing. With clean hands, work the dressing into the kale leaves for about 1 minute, scrunching the leaves as you toss them with the dressing until well coated. (Bonus for Kale! The leaves won’t get soggy, so you don’t have to worry about being gentle.) If desired, grate a little extra Parmesan cheese and add a splash of lemon juice over the salad before serving.