A few months ago, I had to write a twitter-length bio for myself for a speaking event, so I wrote something like: “I love kale, coffee, and making confessional speeches to large audiences. One of these things is a bald faced lie.”
My friend Julie immediately replied with, “It has to be the kale, right? Does anyone really like kale?”
I do. Me. I really like kale. It’s a very healthy balance to my passionate love of ice cream and meat sauces.
I grew up on mostly iceberg lettuce and the occasional dose of cooked spinach. I discovered kale when I worked at Alfalfa’s (anyone remember Alfalfa’s?) in college, but even then, I mostly brought it home to feed to my roommate’s iguana.
I started getting serious about kale about 7 years ago, and I’ve learned some things. You’ve seen kale in some of my other food blogs, and since local farmers all over the Front Range are about to start harvesting fresh, lovely bunches of the stuff, I thought I’d share some great kale recipes.
First, some basics. Wash kale really well, usually by submerging in cold water. Then tear the leafy part off the stems and use that in whichever recipe you are attempting. The stems can head into your compost pile, since they tend to be too tough to eat.
There are many versions of this sausage based soup that includes lots of kale. In fact, Italian sausage and kale is a marriage absolutely made in heaven. Here is an Olive Garden copycat recipe from tuscanrecipes.com, but search around for versions you may like better.
Kale and Kohlrabi Salad
This recipe, from epicurious.com, is pretty much a revelation when it comes to kale. A little citrus, some pistachios, and it becomes the perfect lunch, dinner side, or impressive potluck dish. My farmer friend Katie from Native Hill Farm in Fort Collins brought it to a winter dinner party, and my life has not been the same since.
15 Kale Recipes from Cooking Light
Listen, many of these recipes include bacon, another rock star kale companion. Give some a try!
Finally, I just wanted to say that I know that I am not the average “20 Minute Meal” mommy food blogger. Many of the recipes I love and recommend take more time, and planning, and attention than many people typically devote to dinner. I get that. And we eat our fair share of Little Caesar’s pizzas, believe me.
Overall though, I believe cooking is important and worth the hassle, so I’ll leave you with some inspiration from Michael Pollan’s new book “Cooked” as presented by brainpickings.org. The book argues that cooking did and does make us a civilized people: “The shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.”