Friday, January 16, 2009

Beginning with the end - Our last fresh kale

On this blog, I will share 365 days worth of information about kale, including growing it in my garden, delicious recipes for eating it, and interesting tidbits of research and useful information about why I try to eat kale (or any of its many plant relatives) nearly every day of the year, thus the name of this blog "365daysofkale". It may take me more than a year to actually make 365 postings, but let's get started now!

Beginning this blog with a posting about the end of our 2008 kale harvest is as good a place to start as any! We have a garden in southeast Michigan where I last harvested kale in mid-December during a short thaw between snowfalls during this very cold and snowy winter (see above photo). I am passionate about kale and its many varieties, the beauty of each variety's differently shaped leaves, its ease of growing and hearty, unique, delicious taste, the wide array of uses, the long time it stays fresh in your refrigerator, and last but not least, it's true star power in terms of many essential nutrients and health-promoting molecules.

Unlike store-bought fresh spinach, which seems to get slimy in the refrigerator within just days of purchase, kale seems to last for weeks and weeks. I harvested a huge bag of kale during a brief lull in our cold snowy winter last month in December, which I have been using over the last month. This is a photo of the last of that harvest. You can see how crisp and green (or red) and fresh the many shapes and sizes of the leaves look. It has been in my refrigerator in a plastic bag for almost four weeks. Being harvested well after a good frost (in fact being harvested after being covered with snow and even ice), the taste of this kale is almost sweet, certainly "kale-tasting" but without any harsh and strong flavors that so often cause people to simply prefer their kale as decoration on their plate.

What to do with my last kale? So many options, what else do I have in the house to use? Some potatoes from our Thanksgiving CSA share are still waiting to be put to use as is some vegetable broth in the freezer, a bit of milk, a few strips of frozen red peppers, and plenty of garlic from our garden. Not much else is needed for terrific potato-kale soup, a classic recipe that is easy, delicious, and healthy, healthy, healthy.

Recipe: Potato-Kale Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 quart vegetable broth (could use chicken broth or water)
4 cups of washed and chopped kale (large stems removed, but small stems are fine)
2-4 cloves of garlic, smashed or cut fine
2-3 cups diced potatoes
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil, add garlic to brown slightly (be careful to not burn). Add broth to soup pot and potatoes. Cook for 10-20 minutes (depending on size of potato pieces) until potatoes are almost tender. Then add kale leaves, red pepper pieces, and milk to soup pot. Heat until kale leaves are tender and soup is hot but not boiling. This won't take long if kale leaves were small and tender to begin with. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.

Serve with a salad, fruit, and fresh bread or muffins. Here you can see we ate this soup with some roasted Brussels sprouts (the final ones from our Thanksgiving CSA share) with some olive oil to dip them in, a pumpkin-flax muffin (recipe in an upcoming post on my other blog), and my husband's homemade "fire in the belly applesauce". Yum, yum!

Feel free to make any additions like adding onions, celery, or any other vegetables, even dried beans to this classic delicious soup.

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Vivienne said...

This is great and quite a challenge. Kale is indeed a wonder vegetable but I've had some trouble figuring how to use it except as a cooked green. I'll look forward to recipes.

Unknown said...

You gotta try kale chips baked in the oven -- crispy and delightful... recipe can be found here.

Anonymous said...

you have not shown
kale soup Italian style
italian sausage
(if you like
carrots, green beans, )
and chicken stock
then kale at last yummy

Diana Dyer said...

Kale Soup - Italian-style

I'm sure your version of kale soup is delicious by adding Italian sausage and bacon, however, I eat very little meat. What I would do instead is add a bit of smoked paprika and some ground fennel seeds to taste in order to tip the soup's flavors in the direction with your ingredients. I know it is not the same, but it is still very very good. Thanks for the suggestion! Diana

sa'ada said...

hello diana,

i live in the eastern province of saudi arabia and would like to know two things. first, could i grow kale in hot humid desert? and second, can kale be grown in containers?

thank you

Anonymous said...

I live in west africa and yes kale grows here. It is hot and humid but not as hot as you are. so maybe it will grow in Saudi Arabia. I find if the climate isn't just right, your plants will be smaller but can grow, like kale, celery, spinach etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm just starting to cook kale and I'm so happy to come across your site! I'm amazed at how individuals from all over the world appreciate and contribute to your site.
Looking forward to more posts!
Elizabeth in Hawaii