Growing and Enjoying Kale

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I’ve been growing kale for a couple of years now. Two of my favorite varieties of this extremely nutritious leafy green are Black Tuscan Kale (aka Dinosaur Kale) …

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… and Red Russian Kale.

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Like other vegetables, kale grows well in raised beds that have been enriched with lots of organic matter. It’s great to plant some in the early spring, but fall is not too late. In fact, fall is actually a great time to plant, because while hot summer weather will make kale taste bitter, the leaves actually become sweeter after a frost. Most, if not all, varieties of kale are quite winter-hardy; kale can even be harvested from under the snow.

When harvesting your kale, bypass the outer leaves (as these can be tough). The inner leaves are more tender, and there are numerous ways to use these in the kitchen. I love kale steamed and served with a bit of olive oil and fresh lemon juice, stir-fried, or added to all sorts of soups and stews. My favorite way to eat kale, though, is when it’s been baked until crispy. Now I am not promising that every child will like this, but my 11-year-old son and I fight over who gets to finish the kale whenever I make this.

You can vary this recipe in many ways. Keep it super plain with just olive oil (or try sesame oil) and sea salt; try a squeeze of lemon juice or a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar; or spice it up a little with a seasoned salt, as I’ve done here.

To make the seasoned salt, I mixed 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt with a pinch of ground chipotle pepper (or ground cayenne pepper). You won’t use all of this to season the kale (it would be way too salty), so you’ll have some left over for next time. If you don’t really want your kale to be spicy (but you enjoy a smoky flavor), then you can add a pinch of smoked paprika to your seasoned salt instead.

Recipe for Spiced Crispy Kale Chips with Lime
Ingredients:

  • 1/2-1 bunch of clean and dry organic kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces (remove any tough stems)
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 large pinches of spicy seasoned coarse salt — see above
  • juice from 1/2 lime (or to taste) — optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F
  2. Drizzle some oil over the kale and “massage” it into the leaves. The kale I used for this post was an unusually large bunch. I’d say I used half the bunch and 1-2 tbsp. of oil.
  3. Next, you’ll want to spread your oiled kale onto a sheet pan
  4. And then bake in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Bake until the edges are just crispy, but the kale is still quite bright green. Do not overcook!
  5. As soon as you take your kale chips out of the oven, sprinkle with a few pinches of the spicy salt and then squeeze on the optional lime. Enjoy your kale crispies … and remember to share with your children!
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— Winnie Abramson writes the organic gardening & food blog Healthy Green Kitchen.

Photo Credit: Winnie Abramson

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