I’ve seen an awful lot of kale in many forms in grocery stores lately. It has really come into its’ own with different varieties offered at most stores. It turns out kale is a nutritional powerhouse! It is high in beta carotene, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. It is a good source of sulforphane, a potent anti-cancer fighter; as well as in lutein, which is great for your eyes. It is also a good source of fiber. It is a very dark green vegetable, similar to spinach, but with many more nutrients.
Kale comes in many varieties. Flat leaf kale is best for sautéing. Use a black kale, such as Lacinato. Cut off stems and cut into two inch pieces. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. Cook three smashed garlic cloves till garlic is golden and aromatic, then remove the cloves. Add kale leaves and stir to coat. Add ¼ cup of chicken broth, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove cover and check for doneness. Let liquid evaporate and finish with a splash of sherry vinegar if desired.
Curly kale works best when it’s dried to make chips. When you clean curly kale, make sure to remove all tough stems and ribs. Use the leaf part only. Clean thoroughly, soak in a large bowl of water and let sand and dirt fall to the bottom. Dry in a salad spinner, then dry the rest of the way on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Rub with olive oil and sliced garlic. Sprinkle with coarse black pepper and kosher salt. Bake at 425˚ for 15 minutes. Curly kale works well for cooking also. It works cooked as a green, like collards or mustard greens. Try cooking with ham hocks or country ribs for several hours till tender. The flavor is awesome.
Baby kale is more tender and is better for eating raw. Add to pasta salad or a fresh greens mix. If you are adding to a salad that’s already dressed, like pasta or quinoa, make sure you give the kale time to wilt a bit in the salad. It will be more flavorful and tender. Apple baby kale salad is a delicious way to introduce any picky eater to the benefits of kale. Layer the salad in a large serving bowl, starting with baby kale leaves. Cover with thinly sliced honey crisp apples, skin on. Top with dried cranberries, walnuts, and crumbled feta. Dress with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. Let wilt slightly and serve at room temperature. This salad is deliciously salty and sweet with a leafy veggie greens taste.
Curly, or really any type of kale, can add fiber and nutritional value to any smoothie or fresh squeezed juice. Just make sure you use the leaf only! Remove tough stems and ribs and don’t forget to wash well. Greens can be prepared and washed ahead of time. Dry as well as you can. Wrap in paper towels and store in Ziploc bags in the crisper.
Try this powerhouse green in your diet today!
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO