Vegetable of the Week: Kale
Each week plant-based cook Bettina Campolucci Bordi, founder of Bettina’s Kitchen, gives us the lowdown on a particular seasonal vegetable or ingredient, offering cooking tips and a recipe. This week it’s kale.
Kale has been around forever, but it has become particularly trendy over the past couple of years. Many people love kale because it’s tasty, nutritious, and versatile. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals too, which means it’s a fantastic addition to nearly every diet. It is great added to stews, smoothies, soups and salads – or made into delicious kale chips, which I share a recipe for below.
Not only are kale salads the ‘it’ food on plant-based menus, kale has almost become a hipster statement, stitched on T-shirts and all over social media. Yet in reality, kale is nothing new: it has been cultivated around the globe for over 2,000 years. In 2012 it was marketed heavily in the US, and started showing up on menus of well-known establishments. All that aside, it is a brilliant food that comes in many shapes and sizes, and can be added to so many dishes.
An ancient member of the Brassica family, kale is the sometimes spicy, other times a bit sweet, usually slightly bitter ancestor of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi root. The most common variety is deep green curly kale. Like all other types, this is high in vitamins K and B as well as fibre and antioxidants – plus it has more vitamin C than an orange! It’s the typical kale you find in the supermarket, packaged in bags or boxes or in bunches in the fresh produce section. I personally prefer to get my kale in a weekly veg box in big bunches – but the downside is you have to spend a little time washing and bagging it yourself.
Kale can be bitter sometimes, but you can get rid of the bitterness by sautéing, steaming or stir frying the vegetable. Kale is delicious sautéed with an acid to cut the bitterness, such as red wine, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. Another great tip is to massage and marinate the leaves with olive oil and lemon before adding to your salad.
Recipe: Maple-Glazed Sesame Kale Crisps
I have made these as pre-nibbles on many occasions. They are also great as a movie snack. Easy, tasty and quick!
- 1 bag of kale
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Preheat the oven to 200oC (400oF/Gas 6).
- Start by taking the stems off the kale and discarding these, putting the leaves into a big bowl.
- Add the maple syrup and olive oil to the bowl and massage the kale well, making sure that all the leaves are coated.
- Line a baking tray (baking sheet) with greaseproof paper (wax paper) and spread the kale over it. Evenly sprinkle with sesame seeds and put the tray in the oven for 20 minutes. Make sure you check it halfway through to make sure it does not burn.
- The crisps should be golden and crispy when they are done, and must be eaten immediately.
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