Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kale: My New Favorite Greens

I'm not sure why but I never thought I liked kale. This year I have an accidental bumper crop of it, thanks to a mesclun mix that I planted this spring that turned out to be mostly red kale and arugula.

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.
  1. While the potatoes are cooking, fry up some bacon or sausage.
  2. When done, remove from the pan, take out some of the fat, then fry up some slices of onion.
  3. 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).
  4. Add kale, crumbled bacon or sausage and onions to mashed potatoes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic.

Kale Chips

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).
  1. remove mid vein from bigger leaves
  2. tear into large pieces (about the size of your palm)
  3. blanch and cool
  4. use a salad spinner to remove excess water
  5. lay out on wax paper on a cookie sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour
  6. pack in freezer bags, remove air and label
I will have to report back later in the year and see how the frozen kale works, and try out some recipes.

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.

1 comment:

Mags said...

My husband and I eat steamed kale on a regular basis, it's our favorite green. The sauce we make for it has received rave reviews from everyone I know who has tried it. You just whisk together:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp dried cilantro
1/2 tsp dried parsley
And drizzle it on top of the hot greens. I hope you like it!