Most people have heard by now, just how great kale is for you but only eat it because of this. Let’s be honest here. When was the last time you heard somebody say “mmmm Kale is so yummy, I want a nice big bowl of it!”
Kale is a relation in the family of cabbage or the “Brassica Oleracea” species. Much like its cousins, brussel sprouts and broccoli this family has gotten a fairly bad rap over the years. Unless it’s smothered in melted cheese, good luck trying to get a kid to eat some Brassica Oleracea for dinner tonight!
There also may be some blame that isn’t entirely kale’s fault. Did you know there are ways to alchemize this tough ingredient? Here are a few tips to make kale taste better and get the most nutrition out of it.
The easiest way to remember how to prepare kale is to remember it is a type of cabbage. Regular cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and even kale, have stems. The stem of each is very tough. When preparing, be sure to cut away the stem all the way to the bottom of the leaves. This doesn’t mean the stems are garbage and not edible. Often vegetable stems have more nutrients than the leaves, kale included. Chopping the stem into ½ inch pieces and adding them to soup is a great way to use them up. If you’re not a fan of kale stems in food, you can always remove them after boiling in the soup’s base and still take advantage of their nutrients.
If you’re not planning to cook kale but instead make a nice fresh salad, marinating will help to soften the rather thick leaves and allow the flavour from your salad dressing to soak in. A simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing is the perfect marinade for kale. Simply cut the leaves into pieces, toss in your choice of dressing and leave in a sealed container in the fridge for a few hours to overnight. When serving in a salad, don’t leave the pieces in large chunks or you’ll be chewing a while. Raw kale salad should be sliced into smaller pieces making it easier to eat.
Balance The Flavour and Texture
Great tasting food all needs balance for great flavour. Kale is a bitter vegetable on its own but along with other flavours to balance, it’s a great way to power pack your meal with nutrients. Nuts or dried fruits are the perfect add on to salads with kale. If you’re sautéing and serving warm, fresh garlic and seasoning will give your dish a nice warm flavour.
Cook It, Don’t Kill It!
Overcooked, mushy vegetables are the worst. Not only are more vitamins boiled away, but the taste is altered and the texture is simply yuk. Timing is important when cooking different vegetables in one dish. Often some will need to be cooked longer like carrots, or other root vegetables. As a basic rule, kale will take about 2-3 minutes in a stock or a bit longer if steamed to reach the perfect texture.
Although named the “king/queen” of veggies for its dense nutrient content, it is fibrous, tough and can be cumbersome to eat. To ensure you’re getting all that kale has to offer, it’s a good idea to help break down the cells before having it go in your digestive system. Try pairing it with an acidic fruit like lemon, or pineapple – this will do half the work for you. Or enjoy kale in a smoothie or bowl – check out our Oh Kale Yeah! Summer 2017 feature!
Kale and it’s bad rap can be overcome with proper prep and cooking. Why not give it a chance?