Kale for Your Good Health

Three varieties of kale in my garden.
I think my ancestors didn't come from the part of the world where kale was grown. It's not a plant that I have been genetically attracted to and it has taken me decades to actually like this plant. But like any kind of conversion, once it happens, you dive in head first.

Part of my conversion I can attribute to one of our garden interns a few years back. He loved kale and planted multiple beds of it in our garden for his farmers market booth. While he was with us, he taught me about fermented-pickled kale salad. It was simple, chop up a double handful of kale, sprinkle it with tamari (soy sauce), a bit of vinegar and salt, a few chopped garlic cloves, then let it stand unrefrigerated to wilt for 24 hours, then refrigerate it for a couple of days. I think he also added sesame seeds. It was good although I've not been able to duplicate his recipe exactly.

Kale soup.
Then I learned how to make kale soup from Jim and Robbins Hail at Bear Creek Farm (look for my article about their organic operation in the upcoming issue of The Heirloom Gardener magazine). This past weekend I attended the Midwest Organic Association conference in Springfield, MO. The hotel used local organic food and one dish in particular caught my fancy. It was a kale casserole. Sounds boring, doesn't it? I can assure you it wasn't. I could have eaten a whole plate full, which inspired me to try and create the recipe at home. (If you want the kale soup recipe, click here.)Below are my results.
My garden kale, Feb, 2013
I have a patch of kale that keeps reseeding itself, all from our intern's planting 3 years ago. Above is what it looks like presently. I picked the tenderest leaves, about a basket full - probably enough to half fill a paper grocery bag. It looks like an awful lot when you start, but remember, it's a bit like spinach (but tastes better) and wilts down. Here's my recipe:
11 x 16 casserole pan, makes about 8 servings

Kale Casserole
About 2 pounds fresh kale leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
2 yellow summer squash, sliced
1 can condensed chicken soup
1 teaspoon any kind hot sauce (like Tabasco)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 - Bring a pot of water to boiling and add the cut-up kale leaves and sliced carrots. Simmer for about 2 minutes or until kale has wilted. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the water.

2 - Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with the squash, onions and garlic. Add the drained kale and carrots.

3 - Mix the condensed chicken soup with the 1 cup reserved water and the teaspoon of hot sauce and pour it over the ingredients, mixing it into the kale slightly. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
We had the kale casserole with baked salmon for supper last night. I'm convinced that even people who don't like kale, will like this casserole. Because it's mostly vegetables, it's low in fat, low in calories and yet has a lot of flavor. I hope you will like it, too!


Angel said...

Carrots? I think you need to add how many to the list of ingredients. I may try this!

detroit dog said...

I love Kale! I'll be trying this recipe soon, but would like a vegan spin on it. I usual saute kale in olive oil and sprinkle fennel seeds on top.

Jim Long said...

Angel, read over the ingredients again, the amount of carrots are listed.

Detroit Dog, if you have a suggestion of a vegan substitution for the condensed chicken soup, let me know and I'll be glad to list it.
Thanks to all!

Comfrey Cottages said...

sounds tasty, Jim. Will give this a try soon. thanks for sharing xx