In the spring, the tender small leaves made their way into salads, but as the season progressed and the plants grew bigger, I wondered what I would do with all those giant kale leaves.
At first I tried cooking with it, drying it, and freezing it. Later as the lettuce gave way to the heat of summer, I tried using the smaller leaves in place of lettuce.
Kale and Potatoes
This is a pretty simple (but delicious!) recipe, basically mashed potatoes with kale, meat, and onion.
- While the potatoes are cooking, fry up some bacon or sausage.
- When done, remove from the pan, take out some of the fat, then fry up some slices of onion.
- When the potatoes are done, drain the hot water over chopped kale. Let sit a few minutes until the kale is tender (while you mash the potatoes with butter and milk).
- Add kale, crumbled bacon or sausage and onions to mashed potatoes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic.
I found a recipe online, and lots of people raved about how delicious they were, so I decided to try it. Of course now I can't find the recipe to link to, but it involved soaking in salted water, then draining and dehydrating. I put them in the dehydrator overnight and it stunk up the house something awful! I ended up moving it out to the porch to finish. My sister said she liked them, but I wasn't so sure about the taste.
Preserving Kale by Freezing
Freezing was pretty easy to do, and I found the kale held up better than spinach. You can find general instructions for leafy greens here.
By trial and error, I found the best method (that worked for me).
- remove mid vein from bigger leaves
- tear into large pieces (about the size of your palm)
- blanch and cool
- use a salad spinner to remove excess water
- lay out on wax paper on a cookie sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour
- pack in freezer bags, remove air and label
Kale as Lettuce
Once we tried small kale leaves in place of lettuce, we realized how versatile this vegetable really is. It adds a nice crunch and an interesting flavor, and I'm sure it has more good stuff in it. It also holds up longer in the fridge compared to leaf lettuce. Kale made its way onto turkey sandwiches, burgers, BLTs (I guess they would be BKTs) and chopped for tacos or burritos or whatever else called for something green.