KALE SEASON: Mid-summer through December. GROWING: Kale actually grows tastier leaves after frost – so though you can get it in July, it’s sweeter in October. WHAT TO EXPECT: A relative of broccoli & cabbage, kale comes in several varieties, from peppery to mild. Earthy & toothsome, kale makes an especially soul-satisfying cool weather dish. Incidentally, baby leaves make great raw salad greens, and appear often in baby greens mixes. VITAMINS AND MINERALS: It’s insanely nutritious. Extremely high in vitamins K, A& C, a very good showing from scores of other nutrients, and even a fair amount of protein. STORAGE: In a plastic bag in the fridge, kale can keep up to 3 weeks, though it looses some of those nutrients as it sits there. WHY BUY IT LOCALLY? Kale is a great cropextender for local farmers, particularly given our chilly springs and falls. Cooking with Kale PREPARATION ❀ Kale’s crinkly leaves can hang onto dirt well, so it needs a good rinsing. Fill a big bowl with cool water and submerge one leaf at a time, agitating and gently rubbing them to shake loose that rich RI soil. ❀ Stem it; unless it is young, stems are too tough for most people’s tastes. Fold leaves in half, the face of the leaf touching, so stem sticks out along one edge. Rip or cut stem away. VARIETIES: ❀ Classic kale has very ruffled leaves, sturdy texture, & peppery flavor. ❀ Lacinato (dinosaur) has elongated, textured leaves & a mellow flavor. ❀ Russian Red kale is very tender, with small, lacy leaves & purple stems. BASIC COOKING ❀ Wilted: Chop & cook in a skillet with some olive oil just until limp. If eating the stems, start them cooking a minute before you add leaves. ❀ Very young kale & red kale are very tender & make wonderful salads. SERVING IDEAS ❀ Caldo Verde soup: Cook sliced potato in a pot of broth. Halfway through cooking, add chopped kale & slices of chorizo & cook ‘til tender. ❀ Side: Before wilting kale, brown some sliced onion, then add kale along with garlic, red pepper, salt, pepper, &/or a squeeze of lemon or vinegar. ❀ Serve seasoned wilted kale mixed into scrambled eggs, alongside grilled or seared meat, layered into lasagna, or in calzones. ❀ Soft tacos: Use wilted kale with onions as filling for soft corn tortillas (warmed in a towel in microwave) with a smoky salsa and crumbles of a fresh cheese like feta, queso fresco, or goat cheese. AN ACTUAL RECIPE – Colcannon 3 lbs potatoes ½ cup hot milk 2 T butter 1 cup diced leek or onion 3 packed cups finely chopped kale (about 1 bunch) 2 T minced parsley ❀ Boil potatoes until tender, and mash them with the milk. Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet, add the leeks/onion and kale, and stir from time to time until they’re tender. When it’s done, stir into the mashed potatoes, season with parsley, salt, and pepper, and serve. Every day is market day in Rhode Island! See website for details.
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