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Kale does not pale

Published: 
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Locally grown kale from Green Age Farms.

Okay I am a sceptic, I am guilty, I always put local produce first. So when kale first started to appear on our grocery shelves, it was imported kale—dark, curly, tough leaves, with even tougher stems. “Oh no”, I thought, “that’s not for me.” I kept on enjoying fresh local watercress, local lettuce, chorai bhaji, pak choi and callaloo bhaji. A year or so later, because our farmers are brilliant, local kale started to appear in our groceries and at the market, but at a very high price.

I was hesitant and so ignored this local kale.

Fast forward to last Sunday, whilst trolling the Namdevco farmers market in Debe, I spotted a large stall, loaded with green bunches of unidentifiable produce.

Upon approaching I realised that his stall was crammed full of a variety of locally grown kale. What a beauty it was: there was curly kale, Chinese kale, dinosaur kale and purple kale, along with forest bhagee, mustard greens and morai greens.

The price was $5 per bunch, and I took one of each. Each night for dinner this week, I’ve eaten a different variety of kale. Easy to eat, easy to cook and quite delicious too! I cooked them all the same way: chopped the leaves and the stalks if they seemed tender, sautéed them in coconut oil and garlic and sprinkled with a touch of sea salt.

The purple kale has slacker leaves with pretty lavender like stalks, gentle flavour and not so tough leaves. The Chinese kale was the most tender of all and quite juicy. I added a touch of Smoked shoyu in place of the salt. The regular curly kale was tougher in texture but still flavourful, as greens go in the flavour zone. And the dinosaur kale, aptly named, as the leaves resemble the roughness of the dinosaur skin, was a bit more bitter than the rest. However what is my take on these local varieties? They are more tender and more flavourful than our imported competition.

Kale can be enjoyed sautéed, in stir-fries, in quiche and in pies. So go ahead and have a kale moment—or moments—as I did this week. It does not pale in comparison to our other greens, but rather adds a bit of diversity for us to enjoy.

 

KALE IN OYSTER SAUCE

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1/2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp chopped ginger

1 small onion, sliced

2 bunches kale, washed and cut into one-inch pieces, stalks removed if tough

Sea salt to taste

 

METHOD:

Combine oyster sauce with corn starch and sesame oil. Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok, add garlic, ginger and onion, and sauté until it is fragrant.

Add kale and sprinkle with salt. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently for a few minutes only. Once it has lost its volume, add the oyster sauce mixture, and cook until liquid is thick, a few minutes. Do not overcook. Remove.

 

Serves four.

 

 

 

PEPPERY KALE CUSTARD PIE

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 pimento pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 hot pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

4 bunches Chinese kale, leaves and stalks washed and sliced into one half-inch pieces

4 eggs

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat sauté pan. Add oil, garlic, onion, and peppers. Sauté until fragrant—about four minutes.

Add kale and cook just until wilted and bright green. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat eggs, add nutmeg, salt and pepper, milk and cheese.

Stir in kale.

Pour mixture into a greased pie plate about ten inches in diameter.

Bake for 30 minutes until firm to the touch.

 

Serves six to eight

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