food and wineIssue 20

Kale in Season

Jan_FinalProof

By Noel Daniel

No Doubt your health nut friends have gotten on the kale kick. Suddenly, everywhere you look, people are trying to get you to eat kale.

As it turns out, it’s for a good reason. In fact, it’s not just your health-fad friends that love it. In Scotland, kale is so firmly integrated in a normal diet that to be “off one’s kail” means they’re too sick to eat. And let’s not forget Germany, who has an entire culture dedicated to kale including a kale tour between October and February and a yearly kale festival wherein they name a kale king or queen!

Most laypeople know the dark green kale that occasionally peeks out of the Trader Joe bags of passing hip cats, but kale can also have purple leaves. Some kale can even grow to a height of six or seven feet — just think about the size of that salad. As it turns out, though, many varieties of kale are coarse and inedible, and the kale you see in stores is most likely of the compact and symmetrical kind that resembles a cabbage.

Even though lettuce is more of a household veggie these days, back in the Middle Ages, kale was actually one of the most common green vegetables in Europe. Then, int he 19th century, Russian kale was brought into Canada by Russian traders. Shortly after, it came here to the U.S. And the rest is crunchy, healthy history.

For those looking out for their health, kale is high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C and calcium. It also contains sulforaphane — especially when chopped or minced — which is a chemical with anti-cancer properties. Although, boiling does decrease these levels. Thankfully, steaming, microwaving, and stir-frying does not seem to cause a noticeable loss.

Still not convinced? It’s also been found to contain resins known as “bile acid sequestrants,” which is a fancy way of saying it lowers cholesterol and decreases absorption of dietary fat.

Can’t get over the bitter taste? Kale’s actually better after it’s exposed to frost, meaning it freezes very well. Try pairing kale with strongly-flavored ingredients like soy sauce-roasted almonds, capsicum flakes, or a sesame-based dressing. Kale’s flavor can also be cut down with oils or lemon juice. And in a truly magical twist, baked kale can be a prime substitute for potato chips!

So maybe the next time you’re entertaining the idea of a salad — or just plain eating something green — try reaching for the kale. Who knows. Maybe you, too, could someday be kale royalty.


 

Jan_FinalProofKale Chips

Ingredients

1 bunch of kale
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. seasoned salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the leaves from the thick stems with a knife or kitchen shears, then tear into bite-sized pieces. Be sure to wash the kale, then dry with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt.
  3. Put kale in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are brown.

 

Sweet Plantain and Kale Salad

Ingredients

1 bunch of kale

1 plantain

1 lime

¼ cup olive oil

coconut oil

salt and pepper

Directions

  1. First, slice the plantain and fry it in coconut oil for three to four minutes per side.
  2. Chop the bunch of kale as you wait for the plantain to cool.
  3.  Mix the plantain in with the kale, adding ¼ cup olive oil and the juice from one lime.
  4. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
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