Dark leafy greens love cool weather, and this month they are in wide abundance at area farmers markets. One of my favorites is definitely kale, a versatile green that lends itself well to sauteing, steaming, braising, and boiling. Kale is also a great addition to soups, stews, and pastas. If you make your own juices or smoothies, kale can make a powerful addition, especially when balanced by a local apple. For those who have an affinity for potato chips, have you ever tried making kale chips? Delicious!
Charlotte area farmers grow several varieties of kale, including Lacinato, Red Russian, and Scottish curly kale, which is what I picked up this week from the Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm at Atherton Mill & Market.
Often touted as a ‘super-food’ (a word I typically view with a healthy dose of skepticism), kale definitely meets the criteria for a nutrient-rich food. Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, and many nutritionists recommend including cruciferous vegetables into your diet at least 2-3 times per week (Other cruficerous vegetables include brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and bok choy). One cup of raw kale contains 684% of our recommended daily intake for Vitamin K, 206% our RDA for Vitamin A, and 134% of our RDA for Vitamin C. In case you’re wondering what Vitamin K can do for you, it is best known for its role in helping blood clot properly. Vitamin A is crucial in maintaining healthy skin, teeth, and soft tissue, as well as promoting good vision. Extremely nutrient dense, kale is also a good source of minerals such as manganese, copper, calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium.
Storage and Shelf Life
Kale can withstand temperatures into the high teens, which often makes them available from November through March in North Carolina. Kale is typically cut at the stem and sold in bundles at area farmers markets. Curly kale can be found loose, and is often sold in a similar way to baby greens, by the handful. Kale with smaller sized leaves will have a milder flavor than those with larger ones. Once home, store kale in the refrigerator in a produce bag (I recommend these reusable ones) for up to 5 days.
It is very easy to freeze kale for use in spring and summer meals. All you need to do is remove the stems and blanch the leaves in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove to an ice bath, drain excess water, and package in freezer bags, removing any excess air.
Here is a selection of a few of my personal favorite kale recipes from around the blogosphere:
- 100daysofrealfood: Kale Chips – A quick and easy kale chips recipe from a fellow Charlotte blogger. Hint: They also taste extremely delicious crumbled and sprinkled over popcorn!
- Vegaliciousrecipes: Gnocchi with Kale & beans – Kale and white beans make a delicious combination (and are highlighted in my soup recipe that will be posted later this week!), and I love this unique combination. I have made this using Rio Bertolini’s spinach or sweet potato gnocchi.
- The Congo Cookbook: Sukuma Wiki - A Swahili phrase literally translated as ‘push the week’, Sukuma Wiki is a dish often used to push the family budget to the end of the week. Lending itself well to variation, this is a great recipe for using up leftover meat from a previous meal.
- Agricultural Institute of Marin: Curried Kale Omelet – Let me tell you, a light bulb went off in my head the very first time I thought to add curry powder into an omelet dish! This recipe is one great way to do it, and you can find a variety of curry powders at Savory Spice Shop at Birkdale Shopping Center in Huntersville, or at Atherton Mill & Market.
- Food Babe: Kickin’ Kale Juice – I really do not like the taste of celery, so I modify this recipe by only adding in one stalk, instead of half a bunch. This is the recipe that recently converted me to a lover of homemade green juices! If I’m out and about and craving a juice, I will have this recipe custom-made at Earthfare’s juice bar, and it is just as delicious!