20 May 2010

The Goodness of Kale

When food allergies became my all consuming life about 5-6 years ago (years I'd rather forget most of the time!) I had to pour a lot of time and energy into reading about how to cook with allergies. And what in the world to eat! One food I ran across several times in my researching was kale. I discovered pretty early on in changing my diet that I could only experiment so much within a given week or month. Sometimes it was lack of time, sometimes it was I could only handle so many failures! So kale, by nature of being a dark, green, leafy vegetable was left by the wayside. But it has always lurked in the back of my mind. What exactly does that stuff taste like? Could it be something to expand my diet?

Enter a grocery trip with my mom when we were home at Christmas. We were in the veggie section and I mentioned something about how I'd like to try kale sometime, but had no idea what to do with it - not to mention you can only buy it in what seems like a bulk amount. I don't like wasting things so why would a buy a large amount when it was just Mark and me and we might not like it? Here's the best part, my mom, being the healthy cook/eater that she is knew what to do with it and bought some on the spot saying she'd teach me. Thanks Mom!

To me kale looks a lot like collard greens. And according to that link from Wiki, both are in the cabbage family so I suppose they might look similar. Not that I've eaten collard greens. The name is a bit off-putting (whereas kale almost sounds posh). And I've had the impression it is bitter. I'm not sure if that is founded or not, but it's what I've always thought. And I expected the same of kale. But, to my surprise, it had a pleasant not overbearing taste. And strangely enough Mark liked it too. Hurray! A new food - a very healthy food - for both of us to eat. We already know that makes me happy :)

So when I looked for kale here I noticed it comes pre-cut and packaged (see photo above) and it is generally a £1 or under. So not only is it a steal of a deal, but the hardest part is done for me! All I have to do is dump it in a colander, rinse with water, chop some onion, use my garlic press for some instant minced garlic and heat up some olive oil, saute the onion/garlic and then toss in the kale. I love the simplicity of this side dish.

The only slight draw back is that it looks like a ginormous amount when it goes in the pan. The stuff is springy but quickly starts to shrink/wilt as it heats up. This pan is sans a lid, so I either use a plate, or better yet because it is already dirty, the colander. 
I think I usually let it cook for around 20-25 minutes. I forgot to take a picture before Mark and I already had servings on our plates, but you can still get the idea how much it shrinks down. We've found we don't mind the leftovers reheated in the microwave so it does last several days.

I've also heard it can be frozen and is great in soups, though I haven't tried either of those options yet. Maybe some day soon! And, for the very adventuresome chef, here's a recipe for kale chips. It was originally the kale chips that got my interest in this veggie. Haven't tried those yet either (I'm not sure how well it would work with the pre-chopped kale) but hope to when we are back in the U.S.

One last tidbit for my Aberdeen friends - I've found this in ASDA (can even order it online) or Sainsbury's, but sadly found out on Sunday Morrison's doesn't stock it. Sorry.

So now you have no excuse for trying out this yummy and healthy veg!


Joy said...

that is so ironic that you posted that, as I JUST went to Morrisons to ask for Kale leaves!
I have made this recipe twice without the kale, but would love to implement it. Thanks for the head's up!

Mark and Rachel said...

Joy, that looks SO yummy! I wish I could eat it. Maybe I'll make it for Mark and live vicariously through him :) I think he'd really like the soup, though. Hope you can track some kale down soon.

Christy said...

That sounds like a great side dish. I have only had kale in soups. We love potato and sausage soup with kale.

Miss Mommy said...

I have always been intimidated by kale, too. It looks like it cooks down like spinach. Yummy!

Joy for the Seasons said...

Well gee, if I like collard greens surely I would like kale! ;o)

Leah W said...

mashed potatoes & kale is a pretty common side dish as well and the flavors go well together.