Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Kale for Lunch

Kale  for Lunch
Kale Growing in Flower Bed, © B. Radisavljevic

Kale is Easy to Grow


Early in spring two years ago, I planted some organic kale seeds among my flowers in my front garden bed. A plant sprouted and just lurked behind all the blooming plants as it grew during the spring and summer. One day I noticed it had grown up and was ready to harvest. I decided if I didn't get my kale, the snails and other critters would. So I picked the more mature leaves, leaving only what you see in the photo here.

Since then I've grown much more kale. Some has even reseeded, landed across the yard, and spouted into new plants where I least expected to find them. See more photos in The Garden is Full of Surprises.  This one shows you the kale that planted itself at the edge of my gazania patch by the driveway. Kale is so easy to grow it will plant itself.

Kale  for Lunch
Kale Self-Sown in Flower Bed Beside Gazanias, © B. Radisavljevic

Kale is Nutritious


Kale is packed with nutrients . It's a good source of Vitamins A, C, B6, and K. One cup of cooked, chopped kale in its naked state, before you add salt or other seasonings or oil to cook it in, contains three grams of dietary fiber and two grams of protein, but only two grams of sugars and only 36 calories. It also contains important minerals, such as calcium and potassium. It is low in both sodium and saturated fat. It's an ideal food for people trying to lose weight by eating nutrient-rich low-calorie foods.

Most people know that kale is a healthy food to include in one's diet. For many people, though, the question is how to eat it so that it tastes good. I also wanted to know. As I searched the internet for recipes I thought might work for me, I finally found one to modify for my needs.

Kale Stir Fry

I started with ten large leaves I had harvested and their stalks. I thoroughly rinsed and inspected each leaf to make sure it was clean and critter-free. Good thing I did, too, because there were a couple of very tiny little snails, smaller than a peppercorn, on my kale. I made a mental note to reapply my iron-based snail bait again before watering that night. It's safe to use around vegetables and pets.

Kale  for Lunch
Tiny Snails on Kale , © B. Radisavljevic


After the kale was clean, I dried it. I cut the leaves into small enough pieces to fit in my salad spinner and spun them dry. I had removed the halves that were mostly stalk and dried them on a towel. Then I laid both stalks and leaves lengthwise on my cutting boards and cut across them in one-inch intervals. The pieces were long from leafy side-to-leafy side, and short on the stem length when I finished. They go down to bite size when you cook them.

I then chopped two onions because we like onions and they add flavor. I also chopped three cloves of garlic. I laid out some wine vinegar and soy sauce. You can use any kind of vinegar you choose. The wine vinegar was all I had. The recipe I was adapting called for chopped walnuts, but I didn't have enough to spare a cup, so I used some slivered toasted almonds I had instead, and laid those out. I also combined some dried basil and oregano, crushed to make about a tablespoon, and set it aside near the stove.

Then I had to find a pan large enough to hold all the raw kale. It's quite bulky with all that fiber. I settled on a 4 ½ quart stainless steel saucepan with a copper bottom. This  Cuisinart 733-30H Chef's Classic Stainless 5-1/2-Quart Saute Pan with Helper Handle and Cover would have been much better, since it can hold even more and can even be used in the oven. If you click  through, be sure to watch the video presentation on the left side of the page.

Next I poured in about three tablespoons of olive oil and let it heat until I knew it was hot. I then saut├ęd the onions and garlic until the onions were translucent. I was using an electric stove and started my oil heating on 6. I kept it there until the onions were finished and then turned the heat down to 5.

I  began to add the kale a handful at a time as I stirred with a wooden spoon. As each handful began to wilt, I sprinkled a bit of vinegar and soy sauce on it and then added another handful, continually stirring until all was wilted.

I turned the heat down to 3. At this point I mixed in the crushed herbs I had set aside, and the almonds, and continued to stir until all was thoroughly mixed. I took a quick taste to see if more vinegar or soy sauce was called for and added a bit more of each.

By this time the heat level had gone down, and I covered the pan and let it cook on low, stirring every minute or so to make sure it didn't burn. Depending on your stove, you may want the heat lower. You want it hot enough to keep cooking a bit, but not not enough to make the food stick. It takes about five minutes. Then I turned the heat off, gave it a final stir and set it aside, knowing it might be a while before my husband got home.

It sat there in a warm state for a few minutes before I ate a bowl. It was quite tasty. This is what was left after about two cups had been removed and eaten.

Kale  for Lunch
 Kale  for Lunch , © B. Radisavljevic


Using Raw Kale in Salads

Since that day I have learned I can also eat and enjoy raw kale as part of a salad. I wash and spin it in a salad spinner to dry it. Then I tear it into bite-sized pieces. After that I massage it in a bowl to make it more palatable. (See the video in Hollyhocks are Edible if you want to see how the massaging is done, since I also use this method on hollyhock leaves and chard.)

Once it is massaged, I put it aside and prepare the other greens I'm using, if any, and add some edible flowers like borage flowers and calendula petals for color. Since I have this for lunch, I also add some protein like broiled chicken chunks, a hard-boiled egg, or some tuna. I usually also add some sweet red pepper chunks, cucumber chunks, and / or cooked broccoli in bite size pieces -- whatever I have on hand.  I top it with Italian dressing and it's quite filling. It even tastes good and Hubby ate it with me without complaining.

Try Kale

If you once decided you didn't like kale because you've only tried it boiled with vinegar, don't give up on this power-packed superfood. If my recipes didn't tempt you, get one of these books of kale recipes for additional ideas. Your body will thank you for having kale for lunch -- or dinner. 

If you enjoyed this post, please share it. The sharing buttons are just above the comment box at the end of this post. The photo below is especially designed for pinning. 

Kale  for Lunch

This is my eleventh post for the 2016 AtoZchallenge, a Blogging Challenge for the month of April, 2016. My theme is plants, since this is a gardening blog. Here are links to the other posts if you missed them.

A is for Apple Blossoms
B is for Bottlebrush
C is for Carnations
D is for Daisy

E is for Elderberry
F is for Flowers
G is for Gazania
Hollyhocks are Edible
Irises Are Garden Survivors
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