Kale is the high school nerd no one ever paid attention to until he invented a world-changing software program. Curly, tough, and hard to-get-to-know, kale has recently come out of the closet as a nutritional and culinary superstar. Nutrient, and antioxidant-rich, kale contains 45 different flavonoids. Studies show kale protects against bladder, colon, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer; protects eye sight; and provides anti-inflammatory benefits. WebMD proclaims kale is "one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet."
Surprising to many, this unassuming and seemingly difficult crucifer is amazingly versatile and quite delicious. Add to soups, pasta, pizza and egg dishes. Use raw or massaged in salads. Roast or grill for healthy, crunchy snacks. Or sautee with leeks or onions.
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Kale comes in a variety of colors and shapes. There are five main types of kale: curly, plain, rape, leaf & spear and black, with many varieties within each category. Earthbound Farms sells an organic pre-washed baby kale mix that is tender and does not need massaging. Be bold, try them all!
A word on massaging kale
Adult kale is sturdy and bitter. Massaging kale with your hands for 2-5 minutes with a splash of olive or nut oil, a generous pinch of sea salt and a splash of citrus juice breaks down the kale, changes its consistency and mellows its flavor. This technique is super easy, quick, impressive and lends itself to all kinds of improvisation. Once you have massaged your kale, go wild. Add nuts, cheese, fruits, vegetables and grains like quinoa. You will find massaged kale to be a very flexible salad foundation.
Kale chips, the new tortilla chip
Kale chips are a dieters delight. When you are cinching your belt and swearing off tortilla chips and crackers, kale chips come to the rescue when you yearn for something salty and crunchy. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the hard center spine and cut your kale into 2" pieces, brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper or whatever interesting spice you have on hand and roast for about 10 minutes, watching closely and turning after 5 minutes. You can take the flavor of your kale chips up a notch by adding a splash of Spanish sherry vinegar or rice wine vinegar to the olive oil.