Kale is not a new hybrid green; it has been in existence for thousands of years. As knowledge of the health benefits of kale spread, its use increased. Kale is versatile enough great to add to many recipes and great to use as the main ingredient of a dish. Knowing how to buy, store, and use kale in recipes makes turns a basic dish into a great one.
Avoid buying kale bunches with bruised, limp, or discoloured leaves. Not all types of kale look the same or taste the same, and each type has taste variances due to growing conditions of that particular crop. Knowing the difference will make it easy to make the best kale dishes.
These are the three kinds of kale available:
1. Curly Kale: It has the strongest flavour and recognisable by the shape of the deep green leaves, which are wavy in appearance. The stalks are stringy on this type.
2. Salad Savoy/Ornamental Kale: The flavour is mild, and the leaves of this kind can vary in colour. They come in green, almost white, and purple.
3. Lacinato/Tuscan Kale: Also known as Dinosaur Kale has a sweeter taste than the others do. The leaves are a blue-green colour and textured.
If a recipe does not state what type of kale, experiment with different kinds to see what works best. The more fibrous types and larger leaves work well for recipes that will cook a long time. Robust flavoured types of kale are good to add to dishes and choose small tender leaves are good when it is being used raw or as the main ingredient in a dish.
Remove tough stalks on bigger leaves before using. This is not necessary to do when preparing kale with smaller leaves. There may be grit and dirt on the leaves so rinse thoroughly in cold water and drain. After cleaning, store fresh kale up to three days in a plastic bag if you are not going to use it all at once. Keep in mind the flavour may change slightly and become bolder each day. Dried kale can be stored longer.
Nutritional value of any dish increases when adding raw or cooked kale to favourite recipes. There are several ways to cook kale; one is to sauté it for a few minutes in olive oil. If boiling it, plan on about 25 minutes for kale to be tender. For large leaves and more fibrous types of kale, slow cooking in seasoned stock will produce easy to eat and tasty greens. Drying kale in an oven until crisp will create a crunchy ingredient to add to a recipe.
Easy ways to add kale to a favourite recipe:
• Cut up and add to a salad, this will vary the taste, colour, and texture of the greens.
• Sprinkle on top of a casserole to make a crunching topping or mix into it.
• Layer in lasagne with spinach.
• Mix in with raw or cooked cabbage.
A couple recipes that have kale as a main ingredient include the following:
• Southwest kale salad-mix chopped kale, corn, onion, green chilli peppers, and black beans. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes and sliced black olives.
• Rice and kale side dish-use brown rice and wild rice add chopped kale, sliced sautéed mushrooms with onions and mix thinned cream of mushroom soup. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.
Including kale in commonly prepared dishes and using it in new recipes will take kale from occasional use to a regular addition to the weekly menu.