Kale is one of the most talked about veggies these days for its powerful nutritional punch. Find out the basics here
What is Kale?
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable with green leaves (Brassica oleracea), with several varieties: curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (lLcinato or Tuscan) kale, all differ in taste, texture, and appearance.
How to Buy:
Look for firm, evenly colored, unwilted leaves (yellow edges indicate age) and moist hardy stems. Avoid those with brown spots or small holes. Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and a lively pungent flavor with an edge of pepper.
Ornamental kale (salad savoy) has either green, white, or purple leaves and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head; mellow in flavor and tender in texture. Dinosaur kale or Lacinato or Tuscan kale has dark blue-green leaves with embossed texture and a slightly sweeter, more delicate taste. Smaller-sized leaves are more tender and mild than larger leaves. “Baby” kale is also available.
How to Use:
Steam, bake, sauté or use in a stir-fry, or soup, or with grains. Lightly dress in olive oil and lemon for a raw salad. 1-1 ½ cups are a healthful serving.
How to Store:
Place kale in a plastic storage bag removing air as possible. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (some can be stored longer), although age increases bitterness. Wash only before using to avoid spoilage.
Kale is a nutrition dream, high in fiber, antioxidants and carotenoids (lutein and beta-carotene), and more than 45 flavonoids, particularly kaempferol, anti-inflammatory nutrients (omega-3), and twice the vitamin K as other cruciferous vegetables. Contains vitamins A, C, E, various B vitamins, as well as tryptophan, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, protein, and more. NOTE: Does contain oxalates; those with kidney or gallbladder concerns should monitor intake.
Although available year round, kale’s primary season is mid-winter to early spring, and yields a sweeter leaf.