Before I could stomach collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, swiss chard, and all those other healthy green things, kale was my first love.
You might call it my gateway green.
The word is out, now, and kale is everywhere! Kale chips, especially, seem to be the snack of the moment. The last few moments, in fact. Kale has been finding its way into soups and stews for a while. Doctors love it, eat it, cook it, give it the hard sell.
Kale is among the most nutrient-dense commonly eaten vegetables. One cup provides 1,327 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 192 percent of DV for vitamin A, and 88 percent for vitamin C.-- Dr. Andrew WeilAnd in hot, dry Texas, gardeners love it, too! It has been ironclad in my garden. Behaving much like it's cousin, the collard green, kale is at its best during the cooler season, but, in my gardens, grows all year long, never going to seed. I've grown several varieties, and love them all. Even my notoriously picky family requests kale, fresh from my garden.
Commonly, you will find me sauteing kale in a little oil, with garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Sometimes I toss in some grated parmesan cheese. It's a traditional Italian preparation of the green. I may toss it with some seasoned homemade bread crumbs--I've taken to stuffing all manners of vegetables with it, too.
Kale, the firmest of the greens, stands up well to heat, however is often a little too stiff to eat raw. If you show it a little attention, it will soften up a little, just like we all do.
So give kale a massage. You heard me right. Massage your kale. Maybe it's had a rough day.
A quick massage, of the leafy, destemmed green will soften, and sweeten kale, making it perfectly delightful in raw salads. For this dish, I've destemmed what would be the equivalent of two market-sized bunches, and sliced, crosswise, in 1/4 to 1/2" ribbons. In a large bowl, I tossed and massaged the greens with about 2-4T olive oil and 1/2t kosher salt. Letting the greens 'marinate' in the olive oil for a while will yield the same effect. The massage, or marination, breaks down kale's cellulose structure, thus 'wilting' the green.
While kale marinates (massage for a few minutes, then let sit for about 5, before proceeding), Destem and slice 2 cups of red table grapes. Pan fry or bake 1/2# bacon. (Okay, you don't need that much. But bacon..c'mon....it's so good. And you know you're going to steal a slice from that batch. Do it. Live a little!). Drain bacon on paper toweling, cool, and crumble. Crumble, and set aside, about 4-6 oz firm goat cheese.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remainder of the 4T of olive oil, above, that didn't go into the massage session, 4T good quality balsamic vinegar, 2tsp brown sugar, and 2t dijon mustard. Season, to taste, with kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in goat cheese and bacon.
Toss halved grapes and prepared vinaigrette with kale. You may choose to add the kale stems, sliced thinly, for a little added texture. Correct seasonings.
This salad will keep, refrigerated, for several days, thanks to our firm, green friend; Kale.
Learn more about the health benefits of kale from WebMd, The Truth About Kale.
And try a few more of my favorite ways to prepare and eat kale:
Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes with Kale and Queso Blanco
Lemony Garlic Roasted Kale
Rustic Red Chile Pork Pozole with Kale
Then, because you just can't get enough kale, check out the plethora of delicious kale recipes curated from my fellow Austin Food Blogger Alliance members, below. We love our kale!
Red, White, and Blueberries
Bake Me Away
Stetted--Tuna Salad Wraps
Gourmet Veggie Mama--Quinoa and Kale with Crispy Tofu
Full and Content--Homemade Pork, Kale, and Sweet Pepper Sausage
Midnite Chef--Kale with Penne
Oh Hey--Kale, Beans, and Tomatoes
Local Savour--Kale-y Joes
Local Savour--Seared Scallops with Kale Pecan Pesto Risotto
Lazy Smurf--Nice A** Greens
Gourmet Veggie Mama--Quinoa-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Kale
Gourmet Veggie Mama--Kale Salad with Ricotta Salata, Pine Nuts, and Quinoa
Food Fetish--Crispy Kale and Chickpea Salad
Oh Hey--Lemon Kale Salad
The Fresh Find--Greens' Sweet and Spicy Kale Salad
Hilah Cooking--Kale Salad with Bacon
Kale Soups and Stews
Madbetty--Turkey, Kale, and Brown Rice Soup
Coseppi Kitchen--Pureed Kale Soup
and then make soup--Greek Wedding Soup
CSA for Three--Slow Cooker White Bean and Kale Soup with Shrimp