Kale is often featured on lists of “Super Foods” because of its health promoting properties. It’s a leafy, dark green vegetable of the Brassica family that provides many nutrients, including beta-carotene, vitamins K and C, lutein and calcium, and is believed to help repair cells and guard against cancer. Kale is easy to grow and will self-seed, so once planted, will continue to supply food year after year with little care and attention. There are many cultivars with varying leaf shape and colour—there are purple, almost black, frilly, and flat-leafed kales that make beautiful as well as healthy additions to the garden. Best of all, kale can be grown across Canada, survives winter conditions and tastes sweeter after a frost. Eat tender new shoots and leaves raw in salads, or steam or stir fry leaves or add to soups and casseroles year-round.
These recipes (re-printed with permission) appear in a new cookbook from Harbour Publishing called The Book of Kale by Sharon Hanna. Sharon is a kale-evangelist who writes, speaks and teaches in Vancouver, BC. She received the Mayor’s Prize for Environmental Excellence in 2006 for her inner-city children’s gardening program.
Spring Kale Buds with Pancetta & Lemon
- 3 cups (700 ml) kale buds or more, washed and trimmed
- 4 tbsp (60 ml) olive oil, divided
- 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) loosely packed pancetta, diced (optional)
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) white wine or water
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Black pepper to taste
Kids love kale buds, and who can blame them? The buds retain their sweetness in spring after having been kissed by frost, so children nibble them like deer at a salad bar. If you don’t have kale buds in your garden yet, substitute rapini, broccolini or purple sprouting broccoli in this snappy side.
If you can’t find pancetta (cured Italian bacon), substitute prosciutto, schinkenspeck or a good Italian salami. Or you can just omit the meat if you wish. Don’t be afraid to toss in a few kale flowers!
In a wok or heavy skillet, sauté kale buds in 2 Tbsp (30 mL) oil over medium-high heat, tossing frequently, for about 2 minutes. Remove kale from pan. Add the rest of the oil and cook the pancetta dice until almost crispy.
Return the kale to the pan, add wine or water, and stirfry 1 to 2 minutes more to combine flavours—kale buds should be al dente.
If you prefer your veggies softer, cover the pot and steam another minute or so. Sprinkle with lemon juice, season with pepper if you like, and serve warm.
Teen Apple Kale Toss
- 2–3 handfuls of kale
- One cored and grated or chopped apple
This recipe was developed by my friend Heather’s son, Callum Glass. At Heather’s house, they had to compete with the chickens for the kale so eventually, they built a hen house with a fence. Before that, whenever the kale began to grow, the chickens quickly mowed it down!
I’d drizzle on a little honey-sweetened vinaigrette but Callum likes it plain.
Combine 2 to 3 handfuls of finely chopped kale per person with grated or chopped apple. Serve. That’s it.
Serves one hungry teenager.
This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s May/June 2012 issue.