Kale

Kale is an ancient member of the cabbage family – essentially a headless cabbage that has been tampered with botanically very little over the millennia. It has been around since 600BC! The nutritional value of kale and collard greens is considered to be one of the reasons why black Americans in the deep south remained remarkably healthy despite extreme poverty.

Nutritionally, Kale is a Superstar. It is virtually loaded with calcium, potassium, anti-oxidants, beta-carotenes, has plenty of vitamins A and C, and traces of iron and manganese.  Kale is the vegetable highest in calcium, and the calcium is supposedly more “bio-available” than that in milk. So – good for teeth and bones for children and adults.
 

Health benefits of kale

The organosulphur compounds in kale are cancer preventative. The carotenoids lower the risk of cataracts, and the high levels of Vit A are good for the lungs – so if you are a smoker, or breathe second hand smoke, you need Vit A – and kale is an extremely good source.

Kale is best used fresh and stored in a dry plastic bag in the fridge for up to three days. You can cook and freeze kale to use at any future date.

Cooking basics

Wash, trim the thicker stems, then shred the leaves. The stems are quite edible, and can be cooked at the same time or used later in a stir fry for example. The shredded kale can be cooked gently in just the water it was washed in, or steamed, or boiled in a little stock, or sautéed with a little garlic, onion or leek.

Braise chopped kale with apples, sprinkle with vinegar and stir in chopped walnuts.
 

Combine chopped kale with pine nuts, feta cheese and whole grain pasta.
Use steamed kale as part of topping on home made pizza.
Kale can be added to soups, pasta sauces, stir fries, omelettes etc – or served as a side dish sautéed with onion and sage.

Stir fried kale: Stir fry some crushed garlic and fresh ginger. Add some sliced mushrooms and flaked almonds. Add the chopped kale. Stir fry until glossy then add a few shakes of soy sauce.

Recipes

Cheesy kale bake

  • 2 lb old potatoes   
  • 12 oz kale
  • knob of butter   
  • 8 oz onions
  • milk   
  • 8 oz carrots
  • salt & pepper   
  • 6 oz matured Cheddar

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 15 - 20 minutes until tender. Drain and cream them with a knob of butter and a little milk. Season well. Cook the kale in a little boiling salted water for 10 - 15 minutes. Drain and chop. Blend the kale and potato. Cook the onions and carrots in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, drain.

Turn half the kale and potato into a buttered shallow 1¾ pint baking dish. Cover with the onion and carrot and top with 4 oz grated cheese. Spread the remaining potato & kale mixture, smooth the surface with a knife, mark with a fork and sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top.

Bake in the oven at 200ºC (mark 6) until golden brown.  Serve in wedges.

Indian Style Lamb

  • 250 gm minced lamb           
  • 1 med onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbspn chopped fresh ginger       
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 teaspn garam masala           
  • 5 cups finely copped kale
  • 3 cups peeled cubed squash       
  • 250 ml stock

Sautee onion, garlic, ginger and lamb. Add garam masala, cook for about a minute. Add stock, squash and kale. Simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes or so until tender. Season to taste. Vary by using diced lamb – or chicken. Substitute sweet potato or common potato for the squash.

Kale and leek soup

  • 1 lb leeks, trimmed   
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 oz butter   
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 rashers of rindless streaky bacon   
  • ½ tsp chopped tarragon
  • 1 lb kale, washed & chopped   
  • 2 level tbsp cornflour
  • 1½ pint chicken stock   
  • ¼ pint milk

Slice the leeks, place in a colander or sieve, wash thoroughly and drain.

Melt the butter in a pan, add the leeks and chopped bacon and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Add the kale to the pan & cook for 5 minutes. Return the leeks and bacon with the stock, seasoning and herbs.

Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 35 - 40 minutes.

Cool and then purée in a blender or rub through a sieve. Return the soup to a clean pan.

Blend the cornflour to a smooth paste with the milk. Add to the pan, bring to the boil, stirring, and cook for 2 minutes.

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