Kale LeavesUp until a few months ago if someone had mentioned kale to me I would have said I wasn’t a fan. I had tasted kale before and honestly I just didn’t like it. Then I started hearing about how nutritious it is. Did you know that one cup of kale provides 2.9 grams of protein and 329 mg of potassium? One cup also provides a slew of vitamins including 134% of vitamin C, which is more than you get from an orange. It was then that I decided I had to find a way to make kale work for me.

Kale, also known as borecole, is considered one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. It is part of the same family of vegetables as broccoli, cauliflower and collard greens. You can buy fresh kale at your local grocery store or farmers market or – better yet, buy some seedlings here at the nursery and grow your own!

We currently carry 2 varieties of kale, Starbor Kale and Dinosaur Kale. Starbor kale has finely curled, blue green leaves and grows to about 16 inches tall. It thrives in cool weather, tolerates a light frost and should be picked when the leaves are tender. Similarly, Dinosaur kale has a mild taste that improves as the weather gets colder. The big difference is that dinosaur kale, as the name entails, has gigantic bluish green leaves with a pebbly texture. Both types can be planted in full to part sun.

One of my favorite ways to eat kale is to make it into kale chips. Simply brush the leaves with a little bit of olive oil and pop the baking sheet  into a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes.  Some people add salt to their kale, but I think it’s salty enough on its own, so I like to try other spices like fresh garlic, onion powder or even mesquite BBQ seasoning is delicious! Look through your spice rack and find the combination that works best for you.

There are tons of other ways to enjoy kale. Take a look at the soup recipe below (thanks Kali!) and share your favorite kale recipes with us too! Let’s get everyone hungry for kale!

Zuppa Toscana

1 lb ground Italian sausage
1½ tsp. crushed red peppers
1 large diced white onion
4 Tbsp. bacon pieces
2 tsp. garlic puree
10 cups water
5 cubes of chicken bouillon
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb. sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
¼ of a bunch of kale

1. Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.
2. In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic over low-medium heat for approximately 15 minutes or until the onions are soft.
3. Add chicken bouillon and water to the pot and heat until it starts to boil.
4. Add the sliced potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
5. Add the heavy cream and just cook until thoroughly heated.
6. Stir in the sausage and the kale, let all heat through and serve.