Kale – Queen of the Greens!

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kale and garden saladIf you haven’t eaten kale lately, it is time to jump on the bandwagon and join the health craze for kale!  Even though my southern-born and raised husband grew up eating collard greens and turnip greens, kale wasn’t cooked up in his granny’s kitchen.  But last year as he was fighting an iron deficiency we turned to kale to help supplement the daily iron tablets.  He grew it and I cooked it.  Everyday.  At least one meal a day he ate kale. He likes it. A lot. Not-to-mention we believe it played a big part in bringing his iron back to where it belongs!

bunch of kale
Unfortunately, my sous-chef dish-washing mom and I didn’t get as excited about the cooked Kale.  For some it is an acquired taste and mom and I just didn’t acquire it! 🙂 Kale is a leafy green vegetable with a mild earthy flavor. I think it tastes “green”.  The ideal season for kale is between mid winter and early spring where it can be found in abundance in most produce sections of local grocery stores and especially at farmer’s markets.

lee and kale
This spring my Chief Culinary Consultant turned gardener planted a fresh batch of kale.  At the same time my son is telling me about the enormous amounts of kale he is juicing.  Kale is a nutritional powerhouse.  This is due to its natural and nutrient rich phytochemical content which has unparalleled health promoting benefits.

kale in garden
Then I discovered how to eat kale as salad.  Oh my gosh!

We are hooked on kale and the best part is that it is overflowing with essential nutrients such as calcium, lutein, iron, and Vitamins A, C, and K. Kale has seven times the beta-carotene of broccoli and ten times more lutein. Kale is rich in chlorophyll and provides much-needed fiber so lacking in the daily diet of processed food eating Americans.

Some articles I have read report eating a variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables can do wonders for your health, but choosing super-nutritious kale on a regular basis may provide significant health benefits. The “Icing on the Kale” are the naturally occurring photochemicals sulforaphanes and indoles which research suggests may protect against cancer.

Fresh garden lettuce
Convinced yet?  Ready to grow some kale?  Or buy it at the store?  Or at the farmer’s market?  For today’s recipe I added fresh lettuce from the garden.

garden lettucelettuce cleaned

I soaked the lettuce in salt water to get rid of any unwanted worms or bugs, which in this case there weren’t any.  Then I spun it in a salad spinner and set it aside to dry.

remove stem kale
While the lettuce was drying I rinsed the kale.  Folding each leaf in half,  I carefully cut away the stem.  When eating the kale raw, the stem can be tough and bitter. Cutting the stem requires a bit of time but is well worth it.

massaging kale

Here comes what I just learned:
MASSAGE THE KALE!

Using a scant tablespoon of  Tuscan Herb flavored olive oil, I gently massaged the oil into the leaves.  This doesn’t take long — just a few minutes.  By massaging the fibrous leaves, you can bring out their sweetness and transform them into something tender and more easily digestible. I wouldn’t have believed this if I hadn’t done it myself.

oiled kale

This kale is now ready to use by itself or as an addition to fresh lettuce.

kale garden salad

For this salad we added the kale to the fresh lettuce, along with carrots, tomatoes, and walnuts.

chicken kale salad

For the finishing touch I added lightly seasoned and sautéed chicken breast.  This main dish salad was totally given a thumbs up!  BTW – The Chief knew I was adding the kale to our salad, but my sous-chef dish-washing mom did not.  She was really surprised and loved the flavor the kale added to the salad.

Are you eating kale?  Do you have a favorite kale recipe to share? Do tell….

Have a Blessed Day and Healthy Cooking!
~ Catherine

Kale – Queen of the Greens!
 
Ingredients
  • Kale
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, flavored or unflavored or vinaigrette of your choice
Instructions
  1. Wash kale and pat off excess water. If the center stems are tender enough to eat, simply trim the bottom inch or two. If the center stems are thick or tough, cut or tear them out. Fold leaves in half and slice off the stem.
  2. If using a simple vinaigrette, you can massage the dressing right into the kale. You can also massage the leaves with a little bit of olive oil prior to adding other salad ingredients. Just chop up the kale, drizzle with olive oil, and use your fingers to rub the oil into the leaves. After a minute or two, you'll notice the leaves wilting and shrinking. Stop when the texture and flavor are to your liking.
  3. Now the kale is ready to use in your favorite salad!
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