The Cult of Kale

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

 You need:

Egg

A slice of bread

Kale

Vinegar

Olive oil, salt, pepper (& soy sauce, optional)

 

Method:

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!

 

Detailed version:

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!

 

 

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14 Responses to The Cult of Kale

  1. Kathleen says:

    On making the kale chips…how you you store them after baking? I put line in the fridge and they’re all soggy now :( are they best in a bag at room temp?? They were soooo divine fresh off the cookie sheet!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Kathleen … to tell you the truth, I’ve never had any leftover to store! We just eat them right when they’re made. Readers??

      • Alissa says:

        I leave leftover kale chips in an open bowl on the counter for another day or 2…I have no idea if that’s really ok from a food safety perspective, but we’ve never had an issue and every other storage method I’ve tried has led to soggy (and therefore inedible!) chips! But just sitting in a bowl, they stay perfect :)

        • Kathleen says:

          Thanks for the reply! I will definitely do that next time. They were amazing snitched right off the hot pan ; )

  2. Kathleen says:

    Just made this….so amazing!! This was the first time I ever had kale and I was pleasantly surprised. I threw it on a toasted English muffin with just a little bit of harvarti cheese…Mmm! Thanks for sharing! : )

  3. Brittany says:

    This looked so yummy that I spent an hour making it for my boyfriend and I. Then my cat ended up wearing it. The little bit I had was awfully good, though.

  4. Brittany says:

    Kale is only my favorite cruciferous vegetable! I don’t like kale chips, but kale salads are excellent.

  5. Alissa says:

    Hi Amanda! We are big fans of kale chips in our house too…even my dad who is pretty much opposed to any veggie other than raw carrots and lettuce likes them! Btw, speaking of kale getting some press, have you seen the news of the big scandal in the US over Chick-Fil-A suing a Vermont t-shirt maker? If kale wasn’t already trendy enough, this story is giving it a lot more attention! http://www.npr.org/2011/12/06/143195033/chicken-vs-kale-vt-artist-fights-chick-fil-a-suit?ft=1&f=1053

  6. Grace says:

    I love kale! I just discovered it earlier this year as well because my husband and I became vegetarians, and it is such a nutritious food.
    I make incredibly delicious kale chips as follows…
    1 bunch of kale
    extra virgin olive oil
    garlic powder
    Tear kale into chip-sized pieces and toss with oil and garlic. Spread onto cookie sheets and bake at 300 F for 15 minutes.
    We also just love to put it in everything: pasta sauce, lasagna, stir fry just to name a few.

    • Amanda says:

      There must have been a huge kale marketing push earlier this year because so many people seem to have discovered it then! :)

      I’m impressed that both you and your husband eat it. I’m converted … but have yet to get Zak to willingly eat it. Tips??

    • My visiting sister-in-law from New York was just telling me about these! Thank you for the recipe.

      I love kale…excellent to have some new ways to cook it!

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