Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen - Catching up with kale: Finding ways to love this nutrient-rich green
By JANINE GILBERTSON
Kale, Apple and Pecan Salad with Tangy Yogurt Dressing (JANINE GILBERTSON)
I was flipping through television channels the other day when I saw celebrity chef Bobby Flay holding a big pile of greens.
“If you’re not eating kale, you’re not eating,” Flay said.
I thought this over. When the kale craze started a few years ago, I bought a bunch and tried it in a salad. My family was not impressed, so I never bought it again.
Since then, I’ve seen kale served in dozens of ways: sauteed, blended in smoothies, braised, tossed in salads, dehydrated and served as chips, boiled, steamed, stir fried and juiced. It’s everywhere.
I decided to give kale a second chance, mostly because it’s gained a reputation as one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet.
Kale is a member of the cabbage family and is low in calories. A serving of kale is packed with vitamins A, K, C and B6; manganese; calcium; potassium; and magnesium. It also contains antioxidants and is said to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
The trick is in finding ways to actually enjoy it.
Its thick, ruffly leaves can be chewy, so cutting them into thin ribbons makes for a more pleasant texture if served raw in a salad. Since kale is a little bitter, it pairs well with sweet salad ingredients such as dried cranberries and apple with a sweet or tangy dressing.
You can also tenderize the leaves by de-ribbing them, sprinkling them with a little kosher salt, olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and massaging them before you turn them into a salad. Tenderizing the leaves makes them a little softer and sweeter, which makes them tastier.
Add some fresh tomatoes and some shredded Parmesan cheese to those tenderized leaves and you have a super-healthy, light lunch.
Another great way to enjoy kale is sautéed with mushrooms, garlic and sweet onion with a little bacon or pancetta. This makes an excellent side dish when served with roasted meats.
Kale is also nicely disguised in quiche. I sautéed some ham and onion and added some kale and used it as a filling in a quiche I usually make with spinach and cheese. I don’t think anyone noticed the switch from spinach to kale, because the quiche disappeared as quickly as ever.
Maybe I was a little hard on kale at first. Maybe Bobby Flay was right. If you decide to try it, take some time to experiment with different cooking methods and find one you like. Your efforts will be rewarded.
Bacon, Kale and Mushroom Sauté
1/2 lb bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 lb kale
8 oz package sliced baby bella mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Rinse the kale and pat dry. Using a paring knife or your hands, remove the ribs from the kale and tear the leaves into large pieces. Set aside.
Add olive oil to a large, deep skillet set over medium high heat, then add chopped garlic. Sauté for one minute, then add the bacon. Cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, until the bacon begins to crisp.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until mushrooms soften.
Add the kale. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir well to combine.
Sauté for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, until kale is tender.
Kale, Apple and Pecan Salad with Tangy Yogurt Dressing
3 cups green and purple kale, de-ribbed and torn into pieces