Go green: kale is easy to grow, nutritious, versatile

Consider adding a multipurpose leafy green like kale to the garden this spring. Kale is a non-heading member of the cabbage family and called a cooking green.

The leaves are curly, ornamental and blue-green, red or purple. It is cold and frost tolerant so grows best as a spring or fall crop. The leaves become sweeter and tender after a touch of frost.

One cup of kale contains 206 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, 134 percent of vitamin C, nine percent of calcium, six percent of iron, two grams of protein, two grams of fibre and 299 milligrams of potassium. It has only 33.5 calories and .5 grams of fat.

The curly leaves are removed from the tough stem and chopped for soups, stews, stir fries, smoothies or omelets.

As a salad green, it can sit in a dressing overnight and improve in texture.

Green apple juice

This is a nutritious thirst quenching drink, great for an after school or work energy booster.

  • 1 whole apple, chopped or 1/2 c. chopped pineapple 125 mL
  • 1 c. packed chopped kale 250 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. water 375 mL
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • honey, to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve into cups and serve.
Makes two cups (500 mL). – Adapted from weelicious.com.

Kale Caesar Slaw

The kale is cut in narrow strips like coleslaw.
This salad can be prepared ahead of time because the dressing softens the stiff texture of the kale, creating a tasty, tender salad.

  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice 60 mL
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. creamed horseradish 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 1 mL
  • 1/2 c. olive or canola oil 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided 125 mL
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, 
to taste
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled
  • 8 c. kale, centre stalks removed, thinly sliced crosswise 2 L
  • 1 1/2 c. crusty bread cubes 375 mL (optional)

Prepare dressing up to two days ahead of time, cover and refrigerate. Puree the first five ingredients in a blender, until smooth. Slowly add oil, drop by drop, to make a creamy dressing. Transfer dressing to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup (60 mL) Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Up to six hours ahead of time, separate egg white from yolk. Finely chop the egg white, place in a bowl and cover. Place egg yolk in a colander set over a bowl. Press egg yolk through colander with the back of a spoon, scrape yolk from the bottom. Place in a separate bowl from the egg white, cover and refrigerate.
Two hours before serving, toss kale with the dressing. Refrigerate and toss every half hour to soften the leaves.
To serve, season with salt and pepper and top with remaining 1/4 cup (60 mL) Parmesan cheese and egg.
If you like to add croutons to your salad, toss 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) crusty bread cubes with one tablespoon (15 mL) of the dressing.
Broil on a baking sheet until toasted, about two minutes. Serves four to six. – Adapted from www.epicurious.com.

Krispy Kale

This is a kid friendly recipe that makes a great nutritious evening snack.

  • 6-8 c. fresh kale, hard stems removed and coarsely chopped 1.5-2 L
  • 2 tbsp. olive or canola oil 30 mL
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar 15 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt or sea salt 2 mL

Place a rack on the lowest shelf of your oven. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C)
Combine the oil and vinegar, toss in the mixture to coat the kale. Spread kale out on a baking sheet.
Place on the lowest rack of the oven and bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir to redistribute the kale.
Bake another eight to 12 minutes or until kale is crispy. It should be lightly browned and crispy to the touch.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
Yields four to eight servings. – Adapted from kidscooking.com.

Kale Pesto

My daughter-in-law, Lydia, introduced me to kale pesto. It is so versatile and can be used as the basis for many quick meals.
Toss it with hot pasta or rice, use as a sauce for pizza, add as a condiment for meat sandwiches or use alone as a sandwich spread.
It can be added with the cheese in the middle of an omelet or can be used as a coating for chicken or fish.

  • 2 c. kale, rinsed, ribs 500 mL
  • removed and torn into large pieces, pressed down into the measure
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. toasted pine nuts, almonds, walnuts or pumpkin seeds 125 mL
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 15 mL
  • 1/2 c. olive or canola oil 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese 125 mL
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the kale into small bowl of food processor and pulse to break up, add rough chopped garlic and process. Add nuts and lemon juice, pulse several times.
Slowly add the oil and process until everything is broken down.
Add the cheese, pulse a few times and season with salt and pepper.
Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freeze in smaller containers.
Note: To toast nuts, spread chopped nuts on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 F (200 C) oven for five minutes.
Yields 1.5 cups. – Adapted from www.food.com.

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.