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Kale is considered to be a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, and reasonably rich in calcium. Along with broccoli and other brassicas, kale contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties.

Kale, a non-heading variety of cabbage, is related to the rest of the cruciferous vegetable family that includes broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, turnips, and kohlrabi among others.  Kale is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around.

Kale has been cultivated for over 2,000 years and is thought to have originated in Asia Minor and later brought to Europe around 600 B.C. by groups of Celtic wanderers. Curly kale played an important role in early European foodways, having been a significant crop during ancient Roman times and a popular vegetable eaten by peasants in the Middle Ages, after which cabbage became more popular.  English settlers brought kale to the United States in the 17th century. Both ornamental and dinosaur kale are much more recent varieties. Dinosaur kale (cavolo nero) was discovered in Italy in the late 19th century.

Uses & Recipes

Tender kale greens can provide an intense addition to salads, particularly when combined with other such strongly-flavored ingredients as dry-roasted peanuts, tamari-roasted almonds, red pepper flakes, or an Asian-style dressing.  Some find that steaming the kale briefly before dressing it allows the kale to be more easily blended with various ingredients, such as sweet peppers or orange slices.  With our own Central Coast Portuguese connection, it is worth noting that a traditional Portuguese soup, caldo verde, combines pureed potatoes, with diced kale, olive oil, broth, and, generally, sliced cooked spicy sausage.

Finally, kale stalks make a fine dog treat — especially if cooked in chicken broth. They’re too chewy for most people and usually get tossed, but well-cooked kale stalks are a great way to offer greens to your dogs.  When making soup, throw in the kale and broccoli stalks — they’ll help flavor your broth — and then serve them up to your canine companions.


Portuguese Kale Soup with Linguica - Caldo Verde

Baked Kale Chips