“What do I do with this Emma?” asked Susan as she stood in the center isle of Gentile’s fruit and veggie market clutching a large bunch of dark green curly leaves. Throw it in a homemade soup with white beans and spicy turkey sausage, I suggested.

Later that afternoon as I washed my bunch of kale by the sink and cut up the broad leaves and thick stems, I decided to learn more about this “ super food”.

Just one cup of boiled kale contains 36 calories and provides over 350% of recommended daily value (RDV) of Vitamin A and 89% RDV of vitamin C is also an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese. It contains 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein and is chock full of cancer fighting chemicals “phytochemicals” such as organosulfur compounds and carotenoids : lutein and zeaxanthin.

Kale is from the Brassica family of vegetables, which include cabbage and Brussels sprouts. It is a winter vegetables best bought as firm dark leaves. Young leaves are more tender and easier to cook by boiling, steaming, stir frying or braising. (Braising is a cooking technique in which the main ingredient is seared, or browned in fat, and then simmered in liquid on low heat in a covered pot.) Mark Bittman in his cookbook How to Cook Everything states kale is stored best loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge and can be eaten before the leaves turn yellow- within a few days. (I told Susan, kale can last “a couple of weeks”. Maybe due to the fact that most kale lies around in my fridge for a couple of weeks before I figure out what to do with it and it is non edible as over tme it becomes more bitter.)

The leaves as well as the stems can be cooked and eaten. To prepare, it is easiest to roll up the leaves into a cigar shape and chop across in strips. The stems can be cooked first and then the leaves added to cook until wilted (5 minutes).

Braise kale in 1Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or peanut oil, sweet onion and garlic or try kale with bacon/ham and garlic. Another idea is to add 1C chopped seeded tomato and 1C feta cheese to the braised kale.

Here are some other tasty combinations:

PASTA Kale lentils Whole wheat pasta
PASTA Kale whole wheat pasta feta cheese/pine nuts
SOUP Kale White beans Potato Smoked sausage
SOUP Kale Barley Beef
RICE Kale Red beans Brown rice Red Pepper
STIR FRY Kale Asian noodles Tofu*, Red pepper
Ref: *firm tofu