Kale a great addition to the kitchen

Kale is the new darling of the cabbage family. As such it has received much press as the generous donor of goodly amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium and iron. As the oldest member of the cruciferous family – the same family to which broccoli, cabbages and collards belong – it has all these nutritious attributes plus an appealing frilly dark green leaf.

Small amounts of this leaf are welcome in salads. Generally, kale can be cooked and substituted for spinach in recipes. However, it has a tough center stalk which should be removed before adding the leaves to recipes. Buy dark green leaves and keep them refrigerated, but use within two to three days.

Although recently fashionable, kale was popular in recipes years ago. In fact, this cruciferous vegetable has a 2,000 year history.

Original recipes for Irish colcannon, mashed potatoes with sautéed kale and its Dutch equivalent are simple examples. Here, for your eating pleasure, are a several nutritious examples of kale’s versatility.

 

Kale Balsamic Stir-Fry

If you enjoy spinach, you will love kale done this way. Just as spinach wilts to a fraction of its original volume, so does kale. One bunch of kale may look as if it will feed a crowd but actually feeds only two (perhaps squeezed to three!)

8 cups ( 2 L) kale torn into bite-size pieces (stems removed)

2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp (15 mL) best quality balsamic vinegar

sea salt and fresh black pepper

Add kale to large pot of boiling water. Boil uncovered about two minutes. Drain well, squeezing out excess liquid. Dry saucepan. Add olive oil to pan and heat to medium-high heat. Stir in drained kale together with garlic. Stir fry about one minute until leaves are coated with oil. Sprinkle with vinegar, sea salt and fresh pepper. Serve immediately.

 

Warm Kale and Red Cabbage Salad

If you want a sophisticated dinner in the comfort of your own home, then try this dramatic salad.

By adding marinated tofu or sautéed chicken breast and the almonds (when you add the fennel and apple to the salad), you have a main course in minutes, suitable for the vegan or the carnivore. Accompany with a hearty whole grain loaf.

¼ cup (50 mL) vegetable oil

8 cups (2 L) finely shredded red cabbage

4 cups (1 L) kale (stems removed, torn into bite-sized pieces)

¼ cup (50 mL) packed brown sugar

2 tbsp (25 ml) raspberry vinegar

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

¼ tsp (1 mL) black pepper

1 cup (250 mL) sliced fennel

2 red skinned apples, quartered, cored and thinly sliced

8 oz (250 g) cooked sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast or chopped firm tofu

½ cup (125 mL) toasted natural almonds

In Dutch oven or large skillet, heat 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the red cabbage and kale, stir-frying for five minutes or until vegetables are wilted and have given off liquid. Continue cooking until all liquid has evaporated. Meanwhile, in measuring cup whisk together remaining oil, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper until well combined.

Pour oil mixture over vegetables. Add fennel, apples and cooked chicken or tofu; stir-fry until chicken and/or tofu and vegetables are coated and hot. Serve each portion warm, sprinkled with toasted almonds. Makes eight appetizer servings, four main course servings.

 

Con Kale Bean Soup

Here’s a hearty soup to chase the chills away and make your bones stronger, too! Canned navy beans or soy beans, kale and homemade chicken stock all provide calcium. Remove tough spines from the kale leaves before using.

2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

4 cups (1 L) fresh kale leaves torn into bite-sized pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

6 cups (1.5 L) fresh chicken stock

1 can (19 oz/ 540 mL) rinsed, drained navy or white kidney beans or soy beans

1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt (taste and add more salt as required)

¼ tsp (1 ml)        fresh black pepper

1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice

¼ cup (50 mL) fresh chopped parsley

In large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and cook covered about five minutes or until softened. Stir in kale,  garlic, potatoes and carrots. Cook, stirring about five minutes or until onions are softened. If mixture is getting too dry, add a little chicken stock. Continue cooking until onions are tender. Stir in remaining stock, beans, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Taste add more salt if necessary. Just before serving stir in fresh parsley. Makes eight cups, about four to six servings.

 

Kale Bean Soup

Here’s a hearty soup to chase the chills away and make your bones stronger, too! Canned navy beans or soy beans, kale and homemade chicken stock all provide calcium. Remove tough spines from the kale leaves before using.

2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

4 cups (1 L) fresh kale leaves torn into bite-sized pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

6 cups (1.5 L) fresh chicken stock

1 can (19 oz/ 540 mL) rinsed, drained navy or white kidney beans or soy beans

1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt (taste and add more salt as required)

¼ tsp (1 ml) fresh black pepper

1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice

¼ cup (50 mL) fresh chopped parsley

In large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and cook covered about five minutes or until softened. Stir in kale,  garlic, potatoes and carrots. Cook, stirring about five minutes or until onions are softened. If mixture is getting too dry, add a little chicken stock. Continue cooking until onions are tender. Stir in remaining stock, beans, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Taste add more salt if necessary. Just before serving stir in fresh parsley. Makes eight cups, about four to six servings.

 

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca


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