2013 Food Challenge: Kale

Why Kale??? Why not start with... lettuce?...

I will skip the lettuce altogether, and go straight to the goods: kale, a dark leafy green. Traditionally, it is said to be great for the blood and lungs. Nutritionally speaking, this vegetable has iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, A... try finding those in a head of lettuce, which goes for about the same price.

This vegetable is a good friend. It is hardy, lasts in the fridge, and cooks in almost any way you choose to make it. Chopped in soups, sautéed in butter or olive oil, baked as chips.

How do you find it? Easy to find in most farmers markets down south this time of the year, in health food stores, and in the supermarket. How to discern it from other leafy greens? Here is a handy picture guide from Epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/visualguidecookinggreens.

My favorite thing about this vegetable, and why I chose it over collards, chard, spinach, turnip greens, beet greens, bok choi or mustard greens... is because it is so easy to handle. No knife needed.

Kale stems about to go in stock
For me, with my current wrist injury which makes chopping vegetables nearly impossible, it has been a blessing. All I have to do is hold a leaf of kale on one hand, and pass the other hand through the stalk, from the bottom to the top, as if... going through the Rosary, Pope resignation in mind. By the time my hand gets to the top, all the leafy part has come off, leaving only the stalk. Use the whole leaf to make kale chips, or rip it up with your hands and sautée it, my favorite style. Or put it in your "chosen" soup, in keeping with the religion theme... here is "the apple of my eye": kale/white bean soup.

Don't throw the stems away!!! Save them, and use them to add to your next, or first, chicken stock. Here is a pretty radical stock that I make with chicken feet, which is so incredibly rich, delicious, cheap and nutritious: http://www.freshfoodunderground.com/2010/03/how-to-make-stock-from-chicken-feet.html.

If you are still unsure about this hard core vegetable, check more about it on this site, where it ranks number one: http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/leafy-greens-rated.

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