How to love Kale

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I often forget that not everybody loves kale.  Strange, I know.  What reminds me are random things like strange looks I get when I drink my kale-infused smoothie for breakfast at school, or when I see people’s eyes widen with confusion when I unearth my lunch and reveal the green leafy and onion sautee (over  a bed of quinoa  typically) leftover from the previous nights dinner.  For me, this is just standard fare.  How quickly I forget my anti-kale roots.

I get it.  Upon first glance Kale looks uninviting.  Almost angry.  With its curly leaves and almost snarly looking appearance, it doesn’t exactly exude the a welcoming vibe.  Not to mention that your only exposure may have been to the kale on the side of your “Eggs over my Hammy” plate at Denny’s or as the decorative green below fruit and cheese platters at dinner parties.  That was certainly how I first knew kale.

But underneath all of that ruffage is a really tasty, nutritious and versatile veggie.  But like all relationships, it simply takes time.  My first adventure with kale was probably in 2005.  I’d gotten the book Vegetarian Cooking for Everybody, by Deborah Madison and I was on a mission.  Each week I chose a new veggie and accompanying recipe.  Until that point I was a romaine lettuce and baby carrot girl, with the occasional salsa diversion.  Now I can’t think of a veggie I don’t like.  Even brussel sprouts.  My grandmother is probably rolling over in her grave for that one!

Can I recall my first kale dish? No, but I bet it involved other flavors, as to hide the taste and texture.  Turns out that kale, when cooked, is rather soft and pliable, not all all mean and offputting, as it looks in the grocery store.

Tip #2 for learning to love kale is to broaden your sense of what kale is.  The hyper-curly variety is only one option.  Dino kale is my fav – leaves are easier to work with (less curl) and it just has  a nice, mild flavor.  I also like red kale or a mix of several kales.  Try putting them in minestrone soup, or veggie and chicken soup.  I bet you won’t even notice your new friend, but your body will reap the benefits.

It’s not that you have to go nuts with kale like I do to have a healthy vegetable appetite.  It’s simply that if you can make friends with kale, you’re probably in with most other veggies too, and that means lots of variety.  I mean, who can eat romaine salads with fat free dressing and a few coarsely chopped baby carrots forever?  I certainly couldn’t.    My veggie repetiore needed a facelift.  I’m glad I found kale.  It’s a keeper in my diet.

PS:  I don’t recommend eating it raw if its your first endeavor with dark leafy greens.  It’s called ‘ruffage’ for a reason, people…get my drift??