31 January 2020

Seasonal Food: Focus on Kale Varietes

Kale has been all over social media in recent years. It's rise to fame among health aficionados is easily understandable: kale has an excellent nutritional profile and is a versatile leafy green.

Let's look at this wonder veg in more depth, and discover some different ways you can begin to add it into your diet.

Kale Varieties

Kale is part of the brassica family and is also known as leaf cabbage. Like most vegetables, kale doesn't just come in one variety. There are lots of different types of kale. Here are the three most widely available kale varieties:

Curly-Leaf - this variety has a dense, ruffled texture. The leaves are robust and can be green or purple. Common curly-leaf types include blue curled kale and scots kale. The flavor can be sweet or peppery, depending on how mature the kale plant was when it was harvested.

Flat-Leaf - this kale is also known as plain-leaf. As the name suggests, the leaves are broader and flatter than curly kale, with a gently scalloped edge. Common varieties of flat-leaf kale include White Russian and Red Russian kale. It is not as widely found as the curly-leaf variety. It has a more delicate flavor than curly kale.

Cavolo Nero - this is a bumpy-leaf variety, which has many names, including dinosaur kale, lacinato kale, Tuscan kale, and black kale. This kale is dark green and spear-like in its appearance. It has a bumpy texture, hence the variety name, and a sweet, nutty flavor. It is the best type to eat raw in salads.

Nutritional Profile of Kale

Kale is high in antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. It is particularly high in vitamins A, C, K, and the B group of vitamins. Abundant minerals include manganese, calcium, iron, potassium, copper, sodium, and phosphorus.

The nutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants found in kale can be beneficial in protecting against cancer and premature aging. They can help boost the immune system and benefit eyesight, skin, hair, nails, bones.

How to Cook with Kale

The stem in the middle is tough, and many people discard it, though you can chop it finely and add it to your recipe. The leaves can be chopped and added to soups, stews, curries and casseroles.

Kale retains more of its vital nutrients when consumed raw or lightly cooked. It is an excellent addition to juice and smoothie recipes for this reason. Baby kale and Cavolo Nero are lovely shredded into a raw salad.

Kale is also good served as a side vegetable. We love it lightly steamed and dressed in olive oil and lemon juice, or stir-fried with garlic and chili.

You can also add it to your mixed stir-fry recipes, or dress it in olive oil and apple cider vinegar and bake it for tasty, crunchy kale chips.

Photo by Char Beck on Unsplash

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