Know your kale

At one stage kale was absolutely everywhere – so trendy that it looked like it might even knock avocado off its perch.

Eventually we hit peak kale,  and the spotlight moved on to the next big thing, but with or without the hype, there’s no denying kale remains queen of the leafy greens.

 If you somehow managed to miss all the fuss, here’s what you need to know about kale: It’s a member of the brassica family (like broccoli and cabbage) and is considered a powerhouse of nutrition. It’s an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C and Vitamin A, and also contains folate, iron, calcium and Vitamin E.

As with all fruit and veggies – and especially leafy greens – the fresher it is, the more nutrients it will contain, so locally grown kale that hasn’t been trucked half way across the state is your best bet for maximum nutrition. Kale is just coming into season locally and you’ll find it at the farmers markets throughout the winter months. 

 There are several varieties, and each has a slightly different taste and texture, so it’s worth trying a few to find out what you prefer.

Curly Kale, Cavolo Nero and Red Russian Kale

Curly Kale, Cavolo Nero and Red Russian Kale

Cavolo Nero is the deep green/blue variety with long slender rumpled leaves, and it works well in soups and stews like a classic cannelloni bean and kale soup or minestrone.

 Curly Kale is the type with the frilly edges, and is usually lighter in colour. It’s best for kale chips, in a salad, in green smoothies or in soups.

 Red Russian is the other variety of kale you’ll find at the markets – it’s sweeter and more tender and is nice raw in salads, sauteed with onion and garlic, or in pasta.

For a healthy start to the day, try a kale breakfast: Sautee kale with onion and garlic, add some stock/broth and simmer until the kale is tender, then add an egg, cover and simmer for another few minutes until he egg is cooked. Or combine a banana, milk of your choice and a handful of kale in the blender for a yummy green smoothie. For a nutritious snack, try kale chips: Tear your kale into pieces. Place in a bowl and massage with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Place in a single layer on a baking tray and bake in a low oven until crisp.

•Find local kale at Summit Organics, Everest Farm and Glenyce Creighton’s stall.

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