Kale is a powerhouse of nutrition and flavor. In terms of popularity, its only rival might be the avocado – king and queen of the vegetable world. As trendy as it is, kale has been cultivated for about 2,000 years. Today, you’ll see it incorporated into just about any kind of dish and prepared in every possible way – even in a cocktail.
There are several different varieties, each packed with vitamins and minerals. The most popular are curly kale, Lacinato, and red kale.
You might also know it as: Cavolo nero, black cabbage, Tuscan cabbage, Tuscan kale, dinosaur kale, Lacinato
Taste: mild, slight cabbage flavor
How to buy: Select deeply colored, firm leaves. Avoid limp or yellowed leaves.
Great in: Excellent with strong or rich flavors such as bacon, cheese, cream, garlic, lemon, onions, and potatoes.
How to eat: Remove tough stems and boil, steam or sauté. A simple and incredibly delicious way to eat this dark leafy green is sautéed, with a little garlic and olive oil.
Great in smoothies. If you’re only just starting to add dark leafy greens to your smoothies, you may want to remove the stems to reduce bitterness. Fantastic in green juices too. Stalk and all!
Use this dark leafy green for a different twist on a Caesar salad or add to pesto.
The best way to prepare each variety:
- Curly kale (aka Scotch kale, green kale) – good for making kale chips, juicing, smoothies, and for general cooking
- Lacinato (aka Black Kale, Dinosaur Kale, Black Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, Cavolo Nero) – good for cooking, juicing, smoothies, and in salads
- Red kale (aka red Russian kale) – good for salads, juicing and smoothies
- Baby kale – good in smoothies, juicing, and salads
- Chinese kale (aka Chinese Broccoli, Gai Lan, Kailaan) – good as a substitute for regular broccoli and in stir-fries
- Redbor Kale – good for sautéing and in soups
- Siberian kale – good for sautéing
How to prep: Don’t chop or tear the leaves before washing. Instead, gently swish the greens in a large bowl of water to disperse any soil or grit; throw the water away and repeat the rinsing process until the leaves are dirt-free. Pat the leaves dry with paper towels.
How to store: Keep in the coldest part of the refrigerator. After about 3 days the flavor intensifies and grows stronger, while the leaves become limp.
Health Benefits of Kale
This hearty, cold-weather green is packed with the carotenoid lutein.
According to research, individuals who regularly consume lutein have a 22% reduced risk of suffering from cataracts severe enough to warrant extraction.1 Lutein is also thought to reduce inflammation and exert a protective effect against atherosclerosis.2
- Cosgrove, et al. (2007) Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women. m J Clin Nut.; 86(4): 1225-1231.
- Chasan-Taber L, Willett WC, Seddon JM, et al. (1999) A prospective study of carotenoid and vitamin A intakes and risk of cataract extraction in US women. m J Clin Nut.;70(4):509-16.