Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Ode to Kale

(The writing antics continue, nothing new to report, so instead I will wax lyrical about plants in the aftermath of a delicious lunch.)

I grew up in the rural Midwest with parents who love to garden. Peas, carrots, corn, tomatoes--I ate a lot of vegetables, but not a wide variety of vegetables. Other Midwesterners probably get me on this one, am I right? The region is not known for its exotic horticulture. A few years ago my sister-in-law left me a message saying that her co-worker had given her six eggplants and she needed recipes. I later learned that what she had actually received were six acorn squash. (Love you, C!)

Moving around broadened my vegetable horizons, and I had become acquainted with the eggplant via an Italian friend in Munich. I was instantly smitten with its creamy texture and unique flavor (when cooked right--when cooked wrong it tastes like plastic). During our early courtship, my now-husband once called his mother in Istanbul to get her recipe for Turkish fried eggplant salad to make for me because I was sick. And then I decided to marry him. The Turkish word for eggplant is patlıcan, which I think is kind of cute. Looks like pelican. But it's pronounced pot-luh-john. Sorry, this is getting random.

These days, my eggplant obsession has given way to a new favorite vegetable, kale. Some of you may be acquainted with curly-leaf kale as "that green cabbage that they use to decorate the edges of the salad bar." But like the shy girl in the corner of the dance hall, kale can be so much more. When properly wilted (rub it with salt), kale makes a delicious salad. Tossed with olive oil and salt, kale can be roasted in the oven for 20 minutes where it takes on an addictive crispiness not unlike a potato chip. Or saute it, and mix it with hot brown rice, beans and a vinegary romesco sauce for heaven in a bowl. With more substance than spinach, and less crunch than cabbage, there's nothing I'd rather eat these days than a heaping pile of kale.

Kale. It's not just for garnish anymore.

Disclaimer: This post was not written by a vegetarian. I like my bacon crispy and my steak bloody.


  1. I've eaten kale before and enjoyed it. The ways you talk about fixing sound much better, though. :)

  2. Kale is also really good in potato soup! I'm kind of in love with leeks lately.

  3. I freaking LOVE kale. Kale chips, kale corn chowder, kale wild rice. Mmmm.

  4. I l-o-v-e kale. And it's so freaking good for you. I love to lightly saute it with a little bit of olive oil and garlic and balsamic vinegar. nom nom nom

  5. I discovered the joys of eggplant this past summer! We get it from a local farm and my first few attempts were just terrible. But I stuck it out and oh man, is it delicious!

    Now Kale, I suppose it's time to give it a try.

  6. Well that roasting in the oven thing sounds fantastic and you've got my stomach rumbling (and I've never tried Kale). For some reason it sounds soooo good.

  7. I have a brother who loves kale. He's never quite convinced me, though. Maybe I'll branch out this week and shock the heck out of him! :-D