Kale is a vegetable I both love and don’t.
First of all, it is so ridiculously healthy, it really ought to be embarassed. Several years ago, Todd and I bought a book called “15o Healthiest Foods on Earth” by Jonny Bowden. I read it like a novel. The pictures are beautiful, the writing is compelling, and by the end of it, I was pretty sure I was only going to eat those 150 foods from then on. For ever and ever.
One of the foods he talks about is kale. And even as he has culled down to the top 150 healthiest foods, kale gets a star (which means, it’s SO healthy, it is now considered a superfood). The USDA tests foods for nutrients, and it comes out on top (better than spinach even). It’s loaded with nutrients, phytochemicals, and sulforaphane (which is great for getting rid of free radicals and toxins from your liver), and it’s got a lot of protein and fiber.
What’s not to love?
Well, first of all, it’s kind of tough. It really has to be cooked to enjoy, and cooking removes nutrients and enzymes. Secondly, how many things can you do with a green? Saute, throw it in lasagna, saute, saute with garlic, saute with lemon, white bean and kale soup, saute with pine nuts and cranberries. Did I mention saute? It gets boring.
Well, you can actually eat kale raw. But raw kale that hasn’t been treated correctly has the texture of… oh… hmmm… remember when we were kids and would chew on plastic straws? That is the closest I can come up with. The trick with kale is so simple… and it makes it so awesome, I could hardly believe when I figured it out. You need to let it marinade in acid for long enough to break down whatever it is in the kale that makes it tough. Must be the same reaction as vinegar on cabbage — cabbage is WAY more interesting to eat when it’s gone a bit limp.
So. Kale. I grow a lot of it. It grows year round, and it’s practically bullet proof as far as tending it goes. It does seem to attract white aphids, but the plant can withstand them pretty well. Unlike other crops that fall apart under an aphid attack, it’s easy to just wash them off a kale leaf. I don’t think the aphids are actually sucking the life out of the kale, (the leaves are probably too tough for them to burrow into). Instead, I think they just like to have a stable home. (I just made that up. I have no idea why they are there, but they don’t give me any trouble).
I found this recipe awhile back, and made it. It was good. Not fantastically great, but good. It calls for three of my garden ingredients, so I was keen to make it again. I lost the original recipe, (how is that possible, when I have genius recipe software?). I looked it up on allrecipe.com, and found a couple of deviations. I realize a mistake I made before was not chopping the kale small enough. This time I threw it in the Ninja and shredded it. It changed everything. The oil and acids coated the leaves such that they softened, but were still substantial. This is a tart salad, but not too tart. And the garbanzo beans! Ahhh. I grew them, so when I soaked them overnight and cooked them, they had the most amazing texture. They did not possess any of the mushiness of a store bought bean. And they carry a much clearer flavor.
I wolfed it down, and was so sad that Todd ate the rest. Luckily, I have a crapload of garbanzo beans (homegrown!), kale (homegrown!), and parsley (homegrown!), so I will make it again this weekend after over indulging on Thanksgiving.
15 Kale leaves, stripped from spine, pulled apart into smaller pieces
1 Tablespoon parsley
1 Cup garbanzo beans, cooked (or canned if you must)
1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon champagne vinegar
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp champagne vinegar
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan
pinch of sea salt
Pull apart kale leaves and put in food processor with parsley. Process until pieces are small (not pesto small… but pretty small). Dump all of that into a big bowl.
Add everything else. Toss. Let it stew in it’s juices overnight or longer. The longer, the better — up to about 4 days.