Bumper Kale

My parents’ garden is overflowing with their second planting of kale this fall — the curly, ribbed leaves are everywhere, and look like gushing water rapids of vegetation. It’s stunning. And so is the quality and taste of the kale. There is absolutely nothing like farm-fresh produce, especially when the produce already is full of iron, vitamin K, fiber and antioxidants. Plus, it’s so very green. Deliciously green, in fact. It may be my favorite vegetable.

My mama came for a visit this week, and with her brought a grocery bag packed with fresh chard, red peppers, a few little tomatoes and armfuls of kale. Although I still have a huge bag of julienned kale from my last visit home, I’m slowly chipping away at my supply. Here are a few of my favorite ways to prepare and eat kale:

I love to cook it quickly and simply to keep all of the nutrients and flavors intact: warm a bit of butter and/or olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add a heaping pile of kale. Toss the leaves in the butter/oil, add a bit of salt and a few shakes of red pepper flakes, and cover with a lid. Turn the heat down low or completely off, and let “steam” for a few minutes until the leaves are soft but still vibrantly green. A pile of kale cooked this way makes a great side dish, but I find it most satisfying to eat a big plate of it for breakfast with my morning eggs and toast. Yum.

Some other delicious recipes? Kale gratin is warm and savory and, although certainly not as healthy as simply steaming the greens, it is so good, so cheesy and grainy and chewy and salty. Perfect for a cool day with a plate of roasted sweet potatoes or pork chops.

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I’m eager to try this Roasted Acorn Squash and Kale Salad — I have a couple of pretty acorn squashes sitting on my counter (next to a cute little owl from my mama,  no less) for fall decoration, but I’m eager to try this super healthy, warming salad, complete with cranberry beans and perhaps a sprinkle of Parmesan. This recipe from Sprouted Kitchen provides another tasty alternative for roasting squash. And with homemade breadcrumbs!

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And this really doesn’t get any better: my two favorite super foods in one, Kale and Quinoa pilaf, and in a single pot, no less! The addition of a warm walnut oil and some creamy goat cheese will play nicely off the nuttiness of the quinoa, while the lemon zest brightens up the hearty bitterness of the kale. What a great dish to curl up with while the leaves fall.

These recipes should be plenty to keep me nourished and happy, and will hopefully inspire my parents — with their borderline-obscene abundance of kale — to get creative with the vegetable. And you too! Do you like kale? Do you like any other greens? What are your favorite ways to cook/eat them?

Let me know, I’m always curious! xoxo

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