Kale’s rise to prominence is surprising given the vegetable's hearty but bitter flavor. And yet, there is so much to love about kale. Delicious Living Editor-in-Chief Radha Marcum explains why.
Move over spinach—kale is clearly the supergreen of today. More than 600,000 pages came up when I Googled “kale salad” a moment ago.
Although I’ve grown to love it, I didn’t always. And lately I’ve been wondering what exactly is behind kale’s rise to prominence in natural deli cases and on the menus of upscale restaurants. A decade ago, kale was just a decoration for the iceberg lettuce in the salad bar. Now organic kale has become so popular (for eating) that there was rumor of a seed shortage this spring.
For starters, kale is chock full of minerals and is one of the richest sources of vitamin K and betacarotene in the produce aisle. Like other brassicas, it’s also abundant in sulforaphane, a phytonutrient with strong anticancer properties.
And in an era of lifeless, tasteless, sugar- and salt-laden packaged foods, perhaps kale awakens in us a sense of healthfulness and balance. We love kale’s vibrance despite its tough, grassy-tasting, sometimes bitter flavor profile.
It’s not likely it was our predecessors’ first choice either. Humans probably first tried kale because other sources of food were scarce—kale grows early in spring and well into the colder months.
Whether for its hardiness or nutritional value, the ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated kale. This spring I planted two varieties in my garden—lacinato (which has a creamy flavor, for kale) and an heirloom red kale.
My family and I are enjoying the large, crisp, mature leaves from those plants now. The lacinato, also known as Tuscan or dinosaur kale, is not only my favorite variety, it’s also very popular with the bugs. But either variety seems to work well for most recipes.
As my enthusiasm for stove cooking wanes in the mid-summer heat, I even add fistfuls of raw kale to a morning smoothie for a nutrient boost (try it in pineapple/coconut or blueberry/apple fruit bases).
Visit Delicious Living’s archive of creative ways to get more of this humble but great green, or find inspiration among my favorite DL kale recipes, below.