Kale is the most nutritious vegetable you can eat. That is, if you can eat it. Lots of us find the texture and taste disgusting. It’s worth trying to develop a liking for kale, though, because it’s versatile, cheap, easy to grow (can be carried right through the winter), and even makes an attractive addition to flower beds.
My favorites are red Russian and lancinato kale, which are a beautiful contrast in color and shape. They behave similarly in cooking. Two favourite – and economical – recipes are Portugese kale soup and Asian kale salad.
“Lean” Portugese Kale Soup
This loose interpretation of a Portugese staple does not include linguica or chorico, two types of Portugese sausage. If you desire a meat soup, add either type – or indeed any firm, highly seasoned sausage – in slices or chunks. The soup can be made even heartier by adding cooked beans (red kidney beans are good) and small pasta (orzo or ditalini). Adjust the consistency with more water or stock after adding either of these.
1 pound of potatoes, any type, parboiled and chopped into 1” chunks
2 quarts of kale, shredded (a conventional supermarket “bunch”)
2 large yellow onions, chopped and caramelized
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely (optional)
olive oil, seasonings
Saute the kale in 2-3 TBSP of olive oil until wilted. In a large pot, combine the kale, onions, and potatoes. Cover with water and add salt and pepper. Substituting stock or milk for some of the water improves the soup. Bring to the boil, adjust the seasoning, and serve with rustic bread and unsalted butter.
Asian Kale Salad
6 leave of kale, shredded
½ cup Napa cabbage
3 scallions or ¼ cup red onion, shredded
1 small carrot, coarsely grated
5-6 stems of cilantro, leaves stripped off
¼ cup orange or yuzu juice
3 TBSP toasted sesame oil
1 TBSP rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar may be substituted)
1 TBSP soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp of Splenda or other powdered sweetener
Combine ingredients, chill, and toss with salad immediately before serving.