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A Winter’s Garden’s Gift, Kale

February 5, 2009

“Eat food, not too much, and mostly plants.” Michael Pollan

The emerald jewel of winter, Kale

The emerald jewel of winter, Kale

Kale is one of the gastromic gifts that winter gives us, with its sweetness reveled with the kiss of the cold. It is abundant in local gardens right now, ready for our kitchens. This beautiful vegetable is bursting with great flavor and nutrients with hardly any calories. Kale belongs to the royal Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts. A descendant of the wild cabbage which is believed to originated in Asia Minor, kale’s first appearance on the European stage was around 600 BC. It has a venerable history of nourishing people in the cold dark months of the year, when few other green vegetables are to be had.

Kale is a powerhouse in the nutritional department being an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. It is also a very good source of dietary fiber, copper, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium. Recently it has gained widespread attention due to its content of powerful antioxidants that protect us from degenerative illnesses like cancer and cardio-vascular disease. One of the other fantastic benefits from deep green leafy vegetables like kale, is you get lots of calcium from them and get to absorb it too, due to the abundant presence of magnesium.

Choose kale that looks perky and fresh. Wrap its feet in a damp paper towel, place it in a plastic bag and store in the fridge. Refrain from washing it before storing since this may cause it to become wilted. A great way to wash kale is to float it in a sink of water, then spin it dry in a salad spinner. It is best when eaten within one or two days after purchase since the longer it is stored, the more bitter its flavor becomes.

A few quick ways to fix kale or any leafy deep green veggie are;

~Chop it up, give the stems to your goat, and sauté it in a little broth and pressed garlic for about three minutes till the broth is just about gone. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, toasted walnuts, salt and pepper and serve.

~Boil a pot of water and toss chopped kale into it and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Fish out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Place some potatoes in the reserved water and boil till done. Drain and mash, add the kale, 1% milk, nonfat sour cream, salt and pepper.

~For breakfast, sauté chopped kale with onions and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Mound up on a plate with a poached egg perched on top.

Lentil and Kale Skillet Dinner

This recipe is an excellent and easy one pot meal that kale shines in, but you can use any leafy deep green veggie in this dish. Use vegetarian sausage in place of the chicken sausage for a meatless main dish. Mother Nature’s has a great organic kale selection.

1 12 ounce package of cooked chicken sausage, such as Applegate Farms

1 large onion, sliced

3-4 garlic cloves chopped

Pinch of crushed red pepper

2 ½ cups of water

1 ½ cups of white wine

1 cup of green lentils

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage or

1 teaspoon of dried sage

12 cups of chopped kale, no stems

Salt and pepper to taste

Feta cheese

Cooking spray

Heat up a large skillet over medium heat and douse with cooking spray. Add the sausages and cook till browned on all sides, about 4 to 5 minutes or so. Transfer to a clean cutting board for later and cover so the cat won’t get them. Add the onion to the skillet with more cooking spray and cook till fragrant. Sprinkle in the garlic and crushed red pepper, stirring while cooking for another minute. Pour in the water and wine and increase the heat to medium high to bring to a delicious boil while scraping up all the little tasty bits. Stir in the lentils and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes. Toss in the kale, sage, salt and pepper and cook till the kale is tender, about another 10 minutes. Slice the sausage, if the cat didn’t get it, and stir into the skillet, cover and cook a few more minutes till everything is unified. Serve sprinkled with a bit of feta cheese on top, warm pita bread and a salad. Get those veggies in!

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