I remember telling a friend, years ago – ‘You don’t really like kale! You just like it because it’s good for you!’ I had tasted some very bitter, over-cooked greens once, and since I hadn’t been raised eating things like kale or collards, I couldn’t imagine anyone really ate them for their flavor. Over the course of time I too have become crazy for kale. I realized, like many vegetables, it’s all in how you prepare it. Our family truly does love kale for it’s flavor AND because we know it’s good for us! Read up on why dark leafy greens are so good for you here.
We grew 3 varieties in our first year of growing kale. I realized quickly that I loved the Nero de Toscana Kale (sometimes called Tuscan, Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale) the best. It’s Italian and it’s just beautiful. It’s smooth, thick leaves have great texture and the flavor is the mildest that I’ve tasted (though, like all kale, it tastes sweeter after a frost – and a tad more bitter during the warmer months). My favorite way to cook it is chopped into thin strips, sauteed on med-high heat with a generous amount of fresh chopped garlic and olive oil. Cook until some of the strips get crispy in the pan – but the color is still bright green. Sprinkle with sea salt. And who doesn’t love homemade, crispy kale chips?
Last year we had a nice large kale forest, but we also had lots of broccoli plants. Our broccoli heads didn’t get very large, but the leaves were prolific. Broccoli leaves are large and smooth and taste similar to Kale, (the smaller the leaves – the milder the flavor). It’s a shame that these lovely green leaves are usually discarded! We ended up sauteeing or steaming the heads we picked along with the tender stems and leaves. Delicious! Homegrown broccoli tastes WORLDS better than store-bought.
This is my first year growing collards. Haven’t I come a long way? I grew up eating artichokes in California – but I really was clueless about collards. The images I’d seen of southern cooked collard greens looked like an overcooked dark greenish nightmare. I just wasn’t interested. Now that we are in love with kale and brave enough to eat our broccoli leaves, we are open to this even larger green leaf. It is another source of wonderfully large leaves for juicing (my hubby’s fave) and I have realized that it has a taste similar to kale if I drizzle it in my beloved olive oil. Though it does have a slightly distinct taste, it’s wonderful. I’m looking forward to making some raw veggie wraps with these leaves as well.
Knowing the incredible super-foodiness of these above three greens, AND since we’ve got lots of them growing right now (Spring!), we tuck them into whatever we can. Here is a refreshing spring slaw that was great with grilled pork chops and a side of home made pasta:
The amounts below can be varied depending on your taste and family size.
- 1/2 head Green Cabbage – shredded
- 4 Carrot – shredded
- 1 Red Bell Pepper shredded or diced
- 9 Dark Leafy Greens Kale Collards or Tender Broccoli leaves) – chopped fine
- 1/2 Sweet Vidalia Onion (substitute any onion or scallions) – diced
- 1 Mango – diced
- For the Dressing:
- 6 Tbs Olive Oil
- 2 Tbs Lime or lemon juice
- 1 Tbs White wine vinegar
- 1/2 Garlic clove (freshly chopped – fine)
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Throw the cabbage, carrots & red pepper into a food processor for a quick shred (use grating or slicing attachment – or just chop by hand).
- Chop the lovely dark leafy greens into lovely ribbons, dice onion & mango.
- Put dressing ingredients into a small jelly jar with lid and shake.
- Toss together and serve!
Next week I will share a simple pasta dish using more dark leafy greens for a quick, nutrient-packed dinner!