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Move over spinach, there’s another leafy vegetable that has become a household favorite.
Considered one of the world’s healthiest foods, kale, also known as borecole, is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and alpha-linoleic acid, the omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for brain health.
One cup of kale has just 33 calories and 206 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin A; as well, it contains more vitamin C than one orange and loads of vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and bone health. If you’ve never prepared kale, you’ll be amazed by its versatility. It’s great in your favorite soup, stew, stir-fry, salad or casserole. Love pizza but not all of the unhealthy toppings? Add some kale and you’ve got a nutritional, but tasty garnish. Kale chips are the rage in many health food stores; make your own at home by cutting the leafy bunch into bite-size pieces, tossing with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt, then baking for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Kale is the perfect substitute in recipes that call for spinach or collard greens.
HOW TO PAIR WITH WINE AND A SAVORY DISH
The pungent and slight bitterness of kale really sets off the spicy sweetness of a delicious Primitivo (known as the Italian Zinfandel). It is a rich, full-bodied wine with a little more fruit and spice than a true Zin and goes really well with the kale. Another option would be a Sangiovese; a little lighter than Primitivo, it would pair very nicely as well. For a full list of Placer County wines and tasting room details, visit placerwine.com.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
When purchasing kale, it’s best to look for firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Take note of those bunches with smaller leaves, as they tend to be more tender and milder in flavor. Kale leaves range from dark green and purple to deep red; some varieties can even be used for decorative purposes with their ornamental, curly leaves whose interior can be white, red, pink, lavender, blue or violet. What’s the best part about decorative kale? It’s edible! To keep kale as fresh as possible, store it unwashed in an airtight zipped plastic bag. It can be expected to stay fresh for up to five days.
For a list of local Placer County farms, ranches and farmers’ markets, visit placergrown.org.
Simply Sautéed Kale
Recipe By PlacerGROWN Chef Courtney McDonald
- 3 bunches kale, any variety
- 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt, to taste
Tear the kale leaves from the stems. Cut kale leaves in one-inch ribbons and wash thoroughly in cold water. Drain. Place the olive oil, garlic and chili in a large skillet. Heat over medium flame, stirring occasionally, until the garlic just begins to brown (be careful not to burn). As soon as garlic begins to brown, quickly add the wet kale. Stand back as the pan may splatter a bit. Cook the kale, stirring occasionally, until it is wilted and slightly tender (about 5 minutes). If the pan becomes dry, add a few teaspoons of water. Season to taste with salt and serve immediately. Yields 6 servings.