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What is Kale and Why Would I Want to Cook with It?

Jul 16, 2008
This is something that many cooks of all levels of experience ask themselves, but if you do a little bit of investigation, you'll find that there are plenty of things that you can do with this highly versatile leafy green. When you eat kale, you are in good company.

Before the 1600s, kale was the most common green vegetable but it has been around since long before then. There is evidence of kale cultivation going right back to the fourth century BC in Greece. Kale was a popular addition to the British Victory Gardens of World War II and people are rediscovering the goodness and flavor of kale these days. There are a lot of new kale recipes and kale is cooked in recipes all over the globe.

If you can go long periods without cooking, you have probably had the unpleasant experience of opening up your refrigerator and finding that your vegetables have turned brown and soggy. Luckily, kale freezes very well, and gets a sweeter taste after being exposed to a frost. If you have fresh kale, especially if you have the very tender shoots, add them into your salads. Some ideas for a kale salad include using roasted nuts, strong peppers, and peanuts, all to emphasize the strong, almost smoky taste.

Kale is eaten all over the globe and there are a lot of kale recipes you can use. If you want to learn how to cook kale, the good news is that cooking kale is easy and it can be cooked in various ways. If you prefer cooked vegetables to raw ones, you can look at southern African recipes where kale is boiled with coconut milk and ground or powdered peanuts. This mixture is served on flat bread or rice. If you are a vegetarian or just enjoy vegetarian recipes from time to time, using kale in this way is a good way to cut back on eating meat and replacing it with something delicious and rich in flavor.

Kale is frequently combined with ground, sliced meat, such as ground beef, or spiced sausage, in European kale recipes. It can be mixed with broth, olive oil, and potatoes and served as an accompaniment to the meat. A milder vegetable might not be able to stand up to the strong meat flavor but kale does the job excellently because of its strong, rich flavor. Something else you can do with kale is to cut it up and add it to stir-fries, something that is popular all over the world.

When you are looking to stir-fry kale, try adding Japanese shiitake mushrooms to the mix. Remove the kale's stems and slice the leaves into large chunks. Heat some oil in your frying pan or wok, and gently fry up the mushrooms, garlic, and anything else you think might be tasty. When these ingredients are relatively tender, add kale, and seasons like soy sauce, pepper, and sesame oil, and you will have a tasty dish in very short order.

Kale is very underrated but with a little effort, you can see how easily you can incorporate it into your diet. Why not buy some kale the next time you go shopping and try it out in recipes. You will definitely love its unique, rich flavor.
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