The cult of kale … are you in? Do you munch on kale chips and extol the virtues of green smoothies for breakfast?
Or do you have no idea what I’m talking about?
Don’t worry, I didn’t until earlier this year. And then suddenly, kale was everywhere!
For those not in-the-know, kale is a leafy, green vegetable, related to collard greens or a more wild form of cabbage. Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common vegetables in Europe, and arrived in the USA in the 1800s.
My friend Laurie once requested that I write about some “vintage vegetables”. And kale fits that profile – a veggie that was used for centuries, then forgotten about until it’s reappearance in recent years (and some good marketing – kale even has its own website!)
This leafy green is worth a try – it’s packed with nutrients, really versatile, and best of all – doesn’t turn into a pile of mush when cooked like spinach!
And get this, I’ve even started eating it… for breakfast! (Ok, only sometimes. I’m not that virtuous.)
Why would I want to eat kale?
Kale is absolutely packed with nutrients. It lasts a long time in the refrigerator (much more than those bags of spinach which seems to go off within 2 days!) And it’s a wintery vegetable, so you can find it almost year-round at the farmers market (if you’re also into the locavore movement!)
Kale is rich in magnesium, calcium and beta carotene and Vitamins C, K and A. Apparently it also contains sulforaphane which is purported to have anti-cancer properties. And it has lots of fiber.
Basically, eat kale, it’s good for you. If you’re going to eat veggies, make them count!
So how do I find it?
Kale is actually really easy to find, once you know what you’re looking for. There are tons of varieties, from green to black leaves, smooth to curly. I commonly see curly kale sold in pre-cut bags, or you can buy individual leafs of kale and tear it up yourself. Recently I started experimenting with a dark kale called cavolo nero (the one in the picture). Yum.
How do I use kale?
Steam or boil kale for a few minutes until tender (you want to retain some crunch!). Serve it sprinkled with some olive oil (and I like to add a bit of tamari soy sauce too). It’s also great in stir-fries. You can hide it in pesto. Or speaking of internet cult recipes, bake it into kale chips (gorgeous tutorial here!)
I’ve even started having it for breakfast with a poached egg on toast.
Greens? For breakfast?
This issue warrants a post in itself, but basically, YES! If cooked greens aren’t your thing, you could try them in a green smoothie (which doesn’t work for me in wintery, cold England … but maybe next summer.)
After a breakfast of greens, you’ll feel like a smug healthy person. And you’ll probably find your mood is more stable and you have more energy (especially if you have them with some healthy fat and protein, like an egg.)
So let’s get on with it then. Here’s my current favorite breakfast. Poached egg and kale on toast. Yum.
I could make this recipe a lot more fancy & complicated (sauteeing the kale with onions and garlic or in a broth) – but this is my breakfast. It needs to be quick. And I can make this dish in about 5 minutes once the water is boiling.
Poached Egg and Kale on Toast
A slice of bread
Olive oil, salt, pepper (& soy sauce, optional)
Short version – blanch the kale, make a piece of toast, poach or fry an egg. Put the toast on a plate, top with egg and kale, drizzle with oil and season. Done!
Boil the kettle. While that’s boiling, rinse and dry the kale. Rip it up into bits with your fingers, avoiding the woody stem. (Or chop the whole thing, as you prefer). Put it in a pan on the stove.
Once the water is boiling, pour the water over the kale. Turn on the burner to medium heat and let it cook for about 2 minutes, until the kale goes bright green.
Pour it all into a mixing bowl on the side and let it sit (water & all … the kale still cooks & keeps warm this way).
Fill the pan half-full with boiling water from the kettle. Add a teaspoon of vinegar. Bring it back to a boil.
Put the bread in the toaster and start toasting!
Now poach the egg (you can always fry the egg if this is too much trouble!). Break the egg into a glass or ladle. With a spoon, swirl the water in the pan to make a little tornado. Now drop the egg from the glass into the center of the tornado. Don’t touch it! Wait 2 min 30 seconds. Using the spoon, remove the egg from the water.
Put the toast on a plate. Strain the kale and put it on the plate. Put the egg on the toast. Drizzle with a nice glug of olive oil. Add pepper to taste (and soy sauce on the kale, if you like). Bon appetit!
Are you in the cult of kale? Have you ever eaten it for breakfast? I’m in need of some new kale recipes, so share your favorites!