The standard Kale is a curled green variety. It is hardy and fibrous when fully mature, yet tender enough to be used as a raw salad green when young. The pale green stems are tough and should be removed, while the tightly curled leaves are chewy yet succulent. Kale has a earthy flavor with a nutty sweetness that is accentuated when cooked.
Kale is available year-round with peak season in winter.
Kale is a variety of Brassica oleracea, known as acephala, meaning “without a head”. It is a non-heading, leafy wild cabbage that comes in a range of varying colors, shapes and sizes. Cultivars are generally differentiated according to their low, intermediate, or high length of the stem, as well as their flat or frilly leaf structure. The most commonly found variety is Scotch Curled kale, a form of primitive cabbage. The second most widely grown kale is the Siberian or Napus type which, although in the same family, is actually more closely related to rutabagas.
An excellent source of vitamin C, Kale provides iron, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, potassium, protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber. One half cup of chopped boiled Kale contains about 18 calories. Eat with fish, poultry and meats to enhance iron absorption.
Kale is an incredibly versatile green considering its many forms and stages of harvest. Young sprouts add an earthy flavor to salad green mixes, while fully mature leaves may be steamed, braised, stewed, fried, sauteed, and even baked like a chip. This vegetable loves the combination of garlic, sesame, soy sauce and ginger. It is also great in hardy soups which contain smoked meats, potatoes, beans or barley. Other flavor affinities include, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, red pepper flake, nutmeg, shallots, onion, tomato, sweet potatoes, cheddar cheese, Parmesan, cream, roasted meats, chorizo sausage, pancetta and chicken.