By Deborah Eisenhut

Although touted by some as the Rodney Dangerfield of veggies, if prepared properly, kale can be one of the most delicious and nutritious vegetables you can eat.  It has been cultivated for over 2000 years, a staple in Roman times and at one time, the most widely eaten vegetable in Europe.

Kale is noted as “headless” cabbage and is also related to broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi. It was a very important part of Scottish agriculture until potatoes came to the islands at the end of the 18th century.

Recently Kale has seen a 400% increase  in popularity on restaurant menus and in home cooking, mostly due to the fact it is easy to grow, economical, versatile and has great nutritional value.

When cooking kale, it is best to wash it well and cut in small pieces as with collards.  Sauté it in butter and evoo with garlic and onion.  In recipes calling for raw kale, prepare it in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and massage the leaves. Unlike tender greens, kale can handle a bit of roughness.  The massaging process helps turn raw kale into perfect leafy bites.  By tenderizing salt or dressing into cut kale pieces, the tough fibers are broken down and a deep color with wonderful fragrance emerges.

Try these easy and delicious recipes for an experience of a new kind of “comfort” food.

 

KALE POWER SALAD

Whisk together 2/3 cup evoo, ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar, 1 t. orange zest, 2 T. orange juice, 1 T. honey, 2 t. Dijon mustard, ¾ t. salt and a pinch of ground red pepper and ground ginger.  Toss 5 ounces chopped kale, cleaned sections of 3 oranges, 1 pint raspberries, 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds and mix each serving with ¼ cup dressing.  Serves 4.

 

KALE SOUP

2 T. evoo

1 onion, chopped

1 16oz. pkg. polish sausage, diced

2 lbs. small red potatoes, cubed

1 T. each salt and pepper

1 quart quality chicken stock

1 cup water

1 can (15oz.) red kidney beans

3 carrots, chopped

1 bunch kale, washed and cut into thin ribbons

1 cup small elbow pasta

6 T. grated parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Cook and stir onion and garlic in the hot oil until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add kielbasa; cook and stir until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir potatoes into kielbasa mixture, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook and until the potatoes begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Pour chicken broth and water into the stock pot; add kidney beans, carrots, and kale. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook at a simmer for 45 minutes. Stir macaroni into the soup; continue cooking until the macaroni is tender yet firm to the bite, about 15 minutes more. Top each bowl with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese to serve.