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Kamo Kamo »« Garlic

Kale

Brassica oleracea var acephala


Photo courtesy of Horticulture New Zealand

Description

Kale is a lot like cabbage, with its thick stem and large leaves, but the chief difference is that it doesn’t form a head. Apart from that, cabbage and kale are more closely related than any other brassicas.

The most common variety of kale is the crimped-edged curly kale, though you’ll also sometimes see an Italian type of kale known as cavolo nero, or black cabbage.

Like other cruciferous vegetables such as spinach, kale is considered to be a superfood. It’s an excellent source of iron, vitamin K, calcium, and carotenoids, which produce vitamin A. If that wasn’t enough, it contains 17 times the vitamin C of carrots. In Japan, kale juice is popular as a dietary supplement called aojiru.

Choose kale that looks fresh and isn’t yellowing or wilted. If you can, go for the smaller leaves: kale can have quite a strong flavour, and smaller leaves will be a bit milder-tasting and more subtle. Store it in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to five days.

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History

Kale is thought to be one of the earliest cultivated brassicas. Like broccoli and cauliflower, it probably evolved from a wild cabbage. During Roman times, it was an important foodstuff, and was widely eaten by peasants in the Middle Ages.

During wartime in Britain, large crops of kale were cultivated due to their speedy growth and their good nutritional value at a time of strict rationing.

Uses

Because kale has such a strong, earthy flavour, it’s often recommended that it be paired with something more bland, such as potatoes. However, tender kale leaves can be included in salads with more strongly-flavoured ingredients, such as chilli, chorizo, or tamari.

Like other leafy greens, kale can be quickly cooked by steaming. Cut out any thick stalks, then chop and steam for about five minutes. Kale can also be sautéed – try it with onion and balsamic vinegar. Or slice finely and add it to a vegetable risotto.

Facts

Kale is another one of those vegetables that tastes better if it’s picked after the first frost, which gives it a sweeter flavour.



Kamo Kamo »« Garlic

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