Kale is a vegetable that actually improves in flavor when it gets nipped by frost. That is why it is one of the best vegetables to grow in the early spring or fall.
One cup of cooked kale has only 36 calories but contains vitamin K, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and iron. It also contains the phytochemicals leutein and zeaxanthin, associated with prevention of macular degeneration in the eyes, and suforaphne, an anti-cancer agent. It is naturally low in fat and sodium and has three grams of fiber.
Kale is actually a type of cabbage that does not form a head. It is also related botanically to collards. The color usually is dark green, but can be violet green or violet brown.
You can store fresh kale in the refrigerator for a few days in a plastic bag. Wash the leaves well before using and discard any that are limp or discolored. Very tender, young kale can be chopped and added to salads. Most people, however, prefer their kale cooked.
Try this recipe:
In the South, kale usually is prepared with salted pork. Here is an alternative for those who may wish to lower their intake of saturated fat and sodium.
- 8 cups fresh kale with center ribs removed, cut into strips
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup sliced Vidalia onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Spicy Mrs. Dash or to taste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (more or less if desired)
- Steam kale in a large pot with a steamer basket about 10 minutes or until tender.
- Heat oil in large non-stick skillet and sauté onion until tender, about 6-8 minutes.
- Add garlic and sauté about a minute.
- Reduce heat to medium and add kale and Mrs. Dash.
- Heat through.
- Remove from heat and add vinegar.
Makes four servings.
Editor’s note: Another way to prepare this recipe is to simply sauté the kale instead of steaming it (add it with the garlic after the onion has cooked) and leave off the vinegar at the end.
Calories: 76, carbohydrate: 10 grams, protein: 2 grams, fat: 4 grams, sodium: 27 milligrams, fiber: 2 grams