Our CSA has been featuring quite a few green things, with kale being a superstar (in my opinion). Full shares received a whopping pound of this amazing superfood, and I felt obliged to share a few recipes with them upon hearing how many people were not into the “bitter taste.”
Kale, in general, has a deep, earthy flavor, but the flavor, texture, and look ranges over all the different varieties. For example, Toscano/Lacinato/Dinosaur kale tends to be sweeter and more delicate when compared to Curly/Winterbor kale, which has a lively, pungent flavor. Ornamental varieties like Red Russian or Rainbow Lacinata have their own unique properties as well. And they’ve each got dishes that they work best in, too. Toscano, with its long, narrow leaves, is great in salads. Curly kale makes the best chips. The possibilities are endless. Just ask me.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard other people ranting and raving about kale, and if you still haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, let me give you a quick run down of the nutritional reasons to try this amazing vegetable out:
-Great source of antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese and flavonoids
-Significant amount of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids
-Rich source of glucosinolates, which the body converts into cancer preventive compounds
-Twice the vitamin K of other cruciferous vegetables
-A delicious way to get some copper, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium
There’s a lot of debate about raw versus cooked kale (and other vegetables), and for me, it just comes down to balance. Are you having a smoothie or salad? Go raw. Are you looking for a hearty, warming meal? Add some steamed kale. Are you craving a salty snack? Eat some kale chips! Mix it up, and listen to what your body needs. Here were the two recipes I provided to our CSA:
And here’s a third “recipe” as an example of how to turn this green leafy vegetable into your main dish:
Curried Kale, Squash and Lentils
Squash – butternut, banana, or sweet potatoes – they are naturally sweet and easy to cut
Lentils – green or brown hold up better than red
Kale – any variety, but a flatter leaf is easier to work with
Spices – curry powder, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, paprika, cayenne
**I’m not giving any quantities because believe it or not, you can decide!! Do you want this to be a side? Go with more kale, fewer lentils. Do you love Indian flavors? Pile on the curry powder. Find your desired flavor profile, and go with it.
Peel your squash, scoop out the pulp, and cut into 1-in cubes.
Drizzle coconut (or sunflower or olive) oil, and a little salt and pepper on the squash. (you can also add spices to get more depth of flavor in your dish)
Roast squash in 400 degree oven until soft & starting to brown, checking on it every 15 min and turning it as needed. Takes 30-40 minutes depending on size of chunks.
In a 2:1 ratio, combine water and lentils. Bring to a rapid simmer, then turn heat down to low and cook until lentils are tender, about 15-20 min. Feel free to add some spices to your lentils, but save the salt until final flavoring.
Meanwhile, chop up a huge handful of kale. Leaves, stems, everything. Add it into the lentils in the last few minutes of cooking to soften the leaves. You can add the stem parts before the leaves if you aren’t into the crunch.
Drain the water, add a touch of salt, pepper, juice of half a lemon and stir.
Combine the squash, lentils, and kale for a delicious, warm meal, and eat the leftovers cold!
This dish tastes great with chopped prunes or dates, golden raisins, slivered/toasted almonds, and even a little blue cheese.
Any stew, grain/bean or noodle dish you love to make would probably benefit from a little kale. Start out small and work your way up to a full kale salad or smoothie…but the more you try it, the more you’ll start to appreciate it’s taste and powerful source of nutrition (this is coming from a kale/green vegetable hater). And the more you’ll find how versatile it really is!