- Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. Just look at its levels of vitamin A, a nutrient that helps maintain healthy eyes: Just 85 grams, or about 1 1/3 cups, of chopped raw kale contains 260 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin A!
- This leafy green is also an excellent source of vitamin C, an essential antioxidant that helps maintain gums, repair body tissue and heal wounds.
- Additionally, kale is with a good source of nutrients such as calcium, and potassium.
Kale has a long history as a crop in Europe and the U.S. Kale is related to cabbage, and proof can be found in its name: kale comes from kool, the Dutch word for cabbage (and also the origin of the "col-" in cole slaw and collard greens). Today, kale is resurging in popularity because of its unique taste, hearty texture and nutritional value.
Kale comes in several distinct types, but they are all variations on a single theme: curly leaves. The kind of kale you can buy here in the U.S. typically has very wrinkly leaves — so curly, in fact, that American kale tends to have a shaggy, rough look.
When is Kale in Season?
Since kale grows well even in the cold months, it has always been an excellent stopgap food in winter. During the lean years of World War II, Americans and Britons were encouraged to grow this hardy and nutritious veggie in their war gardens. Because it can withstand frost, kale is currently available all year round.
How to Choose Kale
Look for small to medium leaves, which should be curly and rough, similar to parsley (but much larger). Like spinach, the best kale bunches are a dark, verdant green. Avoid leaves that have a yellow or brownish tinge.
How to Store Kale
Storing kale is a cinch. Simply stuff the leaves into a plastic bag, then place the bag into your fridge's vegetable crisper drawer.
How to Cook with Kale
It can be eaten raw, but you'll probably want to lightly steam kale first. Doing so eliminates the leaf's mild bitterness and helps you get the most out of its nutrients. Begin by adding about two inches of hot water to a large pot, and set it to boil. As the water heats up, wash your kale and then chop or rip it into smallish, salad-sized pieces. Then suspend kale over the boiling water and steam it for five minutes.
Most kale will be measured in leaves or bunches, though some recipes call for it in cups.
Try anything leafy, rough, fibrous and dark green. Spinach, collards, arugula and even parsley can take the place of kale in a recipe.
Kale in Recipes
With its earthy, slightly bitter undertones, kale is the perfect addition to salads, soups and savory dishes.
For a tongue-tingling twist on an old Southern classic, stir-fry kale and collards into this Hot and Spicy Greens Mix.
Kale makes this Healthified Italian Sausage Soup even heartier, especially when combined with potatoes, bacon and beans.
Finally, use a Dutch oven to steam kale, carrots, garlic and onions, then toss them into a piping hot Healthified Lentil and Tomato Chicken Soup.
To learn how to get started with kale, check out our How to Not Fail at Kale video!