Ancient Greeks and then Romans grew and
enjoyed kale, but whether it originally grew wild there or further east
isn't known. Kale greens gradually made its way west and north to
England and tehn on to the New World. Available almost everywhere, it
is especially popular in the southern states. Kale is not delicate; it
has a hearty, almost meaty quality that makes it very satisfactory if
it is the mainstay of a meal. Add a little meat, ham hock, salt pork,
or bacon along with homemade bread or biscuits, and a kettle of kale
become a full meal.
Kale greens is a cold weather vegetable. It is at its best from
September to May, and many cooks think it is definitely better after it
has been touched by frost. The plants are hardy enough to withstand
even snow, and if you are a gardener, the leaves can be picked all
winter long, unless temperatures stay in the teens for prolonged
periods of time.
These are often several varieties of kale in the market: the familiar
dark, blue-green kind with its very curly leaves; the lighter green,
almost flat leaf, only crinkly around the edges; and purple or
flowering kale, sometimes called Salad Savoy. Flowering kale greens
ranges in color from purple to creamy white or pale yellow. While it is
often planted as an ornamental, it can be used as a decorative plant in
the house, added to salads or cooked and eaten like other kale.
In the past, kale greens was classed as one of the "bitter greens" and
thought to have too strong a taste to eat raw, but I have found that it
can be delicious as a salad if only the smallest, most tender leaves
are used. Use a well-flavored dressing and enjoy a crisp new taste.
While kale's bulk does diminish to some extent in cooking, it is not
like spinach, which practically disappears when it wilts. Also, the
heavy leaves are very misleading to the first-time cook. Only the
oldest kale is tough. Normally, kale requires 8 to 10 minutes cooking
before it is delightfully tender. This shortened cooking time also
helps eliminate the strong odor once associated with cooked kale.
Not only does kale greens offer vitamins A and C, the same health
benefits as its cruciferous cousin cabbage, it contains substantial
quantities of iron and absorbable calcium. And kale is also low in
calories and fat. The above are all kale vegetable nutrients.