A nice surprise is one of life’s little pleasures, that startling little epiphany that has you reassessing your tired old ways and preconceived ideas. As a gardener venturing ever closer to the city limits of Geezer town, I have had to ask myself how did I go so long without fully and wholeheartedly embracing brother Kale. Well, now we are connected at the hip, the garden, the plate and the heart. (I had to give chard the bad news; I’m just not that into you.)
Vashon Farmers Market: Lacinato, also known as Italian or Dinosaur Kale, and Red Russian on display
Kale is truly one of THE most awesome vegetables you can grow and eat. While lettuce bolts, chard offends my taste buds, broccoli is short-lived, cabbage takes patience and romaine is gone in one salad, Kale (in my book) beats them all for taste, versatility, growing, longevity and health benefits. Kale oh Kale, how do I love thee, let me count the ways:
In the Garden
- Easy plant to grow
- Many wonderful varieties
- Red Russian
- Blue Curled
- Harvest leaves all year (in cooler climates)
- Very cold tolerant
- Doesn’t need full sun
- Remarkably drought tolerant
- Related links: Photo Guide to Different Varieties, Territorial Seed descriptions
In the Kitchen
- Very versatile vegetable
- Use in soups, sauteed, steamed, veggie pasta dishes, fresh in salads, topped on pizzas and baked as chips
- Flavor is clean and refreshing (to my taste buds)
- Keeps well in the fridge
- Tender enough for salads, sturdy enough for a stir-fry
- Easy to prepare
- Rated as one of the sweetest greens
- Related Links: Top 10 Ways to Enjoy, Recipes for Health, 101 Cookbooks recipes
In the Body (source WebMD)
- Nutritional Powerhouse: One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
- Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
- Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
- Fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
- Related Links: Superfood, What’s New and Beneficial
Three Kale Seedlings: Lacinato, Red Russian, and Portuguese
I buy my starts at the Vashon Farmers Market from Michelle at Pacific Potager. She turned me so many varieties, and I’ve never looked back or planted chard or collard greens again. Based on my kale consumption alone, meeting Michelle likely added several years to my life. Thank you Michelle. Kale, it’s good and good for you. Who would have thunk?
Truer words about our friend kale have never been….written.
Just tried this and it was fantastic!! Knead kale as if it was bread dough with olive oil and salt until reduced by 1/2. This takes all the toughness out and leaves all the green deliciousness in.
I have never eaten Kale! (I KNOW!! I need to get out more lol!)
This year we are planning to plant some in our winter garden – I hope it works XO
Thanks Cara for the visit.
Laura who cool is that? I will definitely check that out.
Janet, I believe parts of New Zealand and the Pacific NW share similar climates; you should cooking up some kale in no time.
Interesting post. Love the photos! If Roses are Queen and Kale is King….. hmmm Sounds like a sonnet coming on……
Tom – you crack me up! I love all greens – but you are right – Kale is King!
You’re so right…it’s so rare for something to be both delicious, and a snap to grow! It doesn’t hurt that isn’t kinda purty too 😉
My family has been raising the same kale for a hundred years. Love it!!! I have a great slaw recipe a friend shared with me!! So tasty!
Stacey, do tell, what’s the slaw recipe!?
I too am a recent kale convert. Although I’ve used it for years under items as a garnish on a buffet table, it’s only recently that I’ve begun to actually eat it. You now have me wondering whether it will grow in the desert – maybe in late fall?
June, in High School we lived in Tucson, AZ, and I grew gigantic winter cabbage. That leads me to believe Kale would be one easy seed to sow and plant to grow for you. And I venture to say Arizona winter temps are still warmer than Seattle summer temps, so the kale should do well. See if your city has any community pea patches and go tour them; you’ll get to see what others are growing and pick up some tips too. Good Luck, look forward to seeing what you are going to cook up!
All hail, King Kale!
Great post, Tom! I only ate kale for the first time a few years ago and now it’s a healthy regular at our house. I like it best in green smoothies. 🙂
Oh I could not agree more! I steam mine, but not too much, and then toss with olive oil, Meyer lemon, a pinch of red pepper flakes and crunchy salt and pepper. Thin shingles of Reggiano-Parmesan on top is sublime. I plow through a whole steamed bunch per meal and give some to the dog. But, should I be eating the stem? I usually trim.
I love kale… lacinato is my all-time fav but then again, there are those I have never tried, right? Do you have a favorite?
One caveat about eating kale and other brassicas: they are goitrogenic, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goitrogen) and should really only be eaten cooked if you have ANY issues with your thyroid. The number of people with problematic thyroids is growing like wildfire these days. I hate to be a wet blanket, I know people love putting kale in their smoothies and salads these days, but I also hate to see people sabotaging their own health unwittingly.
Hi Tom from New Mexico! the crown of kale says it all. Lacinato definitely my fave as well. Like bits of it raw in regular green salad, or lightly steamed with–I know, it’s from a grocery store–but original paul neuman dressing is REALLY good! I chop up stems for stews too. last frost is in 1 month, can’t wait to plant!
I have a annual type in my community garden that does not produce seeds, you just break a branch stick it in the ground, water it wait for few weeks and then you have a new kale plant. Baby leaves are deliciously soft, sweet and tasty for salads. And yes to me kale is the queen or king of the leaf vegetable world.
Good thing you don’t think Nettles are king!!!
After one attempt of making kale chips (which i hated) I never gave kale another look and decided to espouse chard all the way; you are convincing me I need to give kale another look, although these days I am going nuts about mouloukhieh or jew’s mallow as it is the most nutritious green by far, way way more nutrients than all the others combined and very much beloved in the near east (and in Asia too)
Tom, let some kale start to go to flower after overwintering and the florets are amazing! Get them just in bud. Very tender with an almond taste.
Start some kale (any kind) Red Russian being my favorite, in August. You can row cover it and eat kale all winter and have fine greens when you need them most in Feb. Don’t waste money on starts. Seed directly in the ground. Try the varieties from SESE.
Kale is suddenly everywhere. A co-worker says kale is the new spinach.
Kale Ceasar! You look super cool like that!
I love kale too! We have curly kale over here in belgium! Great in stoemp!
I made some kale/cheese raviolis recently using potsticker wrappers and they were delicious! I love the red russian variety the best. Can’t wait until it starts appearing at our farmer’s market!