My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Monday, November 23, 2009

All Hail Kale, Queen of Greens!

Ah, the lovely kale, one of the many foods we'd never eaten before becoming vegan, and now a favorite. Available in several colorful varieties, it's been called the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, the "queen of greens," a food superstar. A powerhouse of phytonutrients, kale is especially high in vitamins A, C, and K, and rich in calcium, iron, folate, and manganese.

Unconscionably, kale currently ranks #8 on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of produce contaminated with residual pesticides, so buy organic whenever you can - or better yet, grow your own!

If you've never eaten kale, or know it only as a beautiful garnish or ornamental plant, here are some recipes and ideas so you too can hail the mighty kale!

Steamed Kale with Walnut Dressing & Brown Jasmine Rice

I was introduced to this walnut dressing (a recipe by Anne Esselstyn, Dr. Caldwell's wife) at "Camp McDougall" two years ago, and have to restrain myself from making (and snarfing) it too often! It's fantastic on kale and other raw or cooked veggies, delicious on tossed salads, and sublime on baked potatoes, especially when mixed with vegan sour cream.

Kale/Lemon Sandwiches

Another recipe from Dr. Caldwell and Anne Esselstyn, we just made this for the first time recently. It was messy but very good. I used my own hummus recipe (with tahini), because I think tahini really takes hummus to a higher level. I didn't have fresh cilantro so I used parsley, and whatever "Mestemacher bread" is, you can bet it's not something I can find in East Cowflop, Wyoming. So I used what we had on hand, organic oat bran bread, which was just dandy. BW and I agreed after making and eating these sandwiches that we would leave off the lemon slices next time, or at least peel them first. They really have to be sliced paper thin in order for the rind to not be too chewy to deal with, and with all the lemon juice and zest, we found them pretty, but somewhat redundant. We agreed these open faced sandwiches both taste and look very fresh and summery, though kale is generally a fall/winter crop. Good way to get a nice burst of Vitamin C during cold and flu season, along with all those other great nutrients in kale!

And here's Colleen Patrick-Goudreau of Compassionate Cooks, making a pot of Garlic and Greens Soup (kale is perfect for this dish!)...

Garlic and Greens Soup

I've made this soup and think it's great with cooked white beans and/or brown rice added to it. I made it with buckwheat groats once, too, which gave it an intriguing flavor.

Here are a few more ideas and recipes for kale...

Kale Chips (This recipe is from VegWeb, but there are many others out there, all pretty similar and all with rave reviews).

Polenta Lasagna with Portabellos and Kale from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen blog (do a search for "kale" on Susan's wonderful site to find more delicious recipes!)

And though we haven't made this (and won't, it being too high in fat), I'm compelled to include it here because it's definitely one of the more creative and unusual uses of kale I've ever seen...

(But I just might try throwing some kale leaves into a batch of mint banana ice cream next summer!)

There are so many ways to prepare kale, if you don't already I hope you'll include this nutritious, delicious regal queen of greens in your repertoire!

"Let your food be your medicine
and your medicine be your food."
~Hippocrates, 431 BCE


  1. You've been reading my mind! I'm obsessed with kale right now. We just got a big bunch (organic, thankfully) in our winter CSA and have been eating it every night. I love to saute it with garlic and ginger and then splash a little tamari, mirin, and sesame oil on at the end (I learned this method from Veganomicon). For dinner last night we had hot sauce-marinated tempeh, mashed potatoes and turnips, and the last of our kale. When we finished eating I turned to my husband and said, "I wish I'd had 3 times as much kale," and he agreed.

  2. And after I read your comment, I turned to MY husband and said, "I wish we lived next door to Mary and got invited over to dinner 3 times a week!" ;-D

    We must have some sort of Maine Mind-Meld going on, because you have no idea how many times you'll post about something I've been thinking about (or eating!). Your kale dish, and your entire dinner, sounds wonderful. And thanks for mentioning tempeh, because I've got some in the freezer and had been meaning to find some new recipes for it.

    I wish I had a greenhouse so I could grow kale all year! And I hope you can get three times more from your CSA! :-)

  3. I just noticed the other day that the kale in the tiny back yard garden (with no-real-dirt, no-real-sunlight) had a six inch sprout growing. I am not tempted to saute it! laughs. But the kales flowered this year and made many seeds so I'm hoping next year will be wonderfully prolific!!

    Happy Dreams of Gardening!

  4. I hope you enjoy a prolific kale crop next year too, rift! We're hoping to plant a bunch of kale in our garden next year (the grasshoppers ate everything this year, so we hope they don't return! I don't mind sharing, but I hate being robbed blind - especially of kale! ;-)

  5. Great post. Kale and lemon sandwiches. I would never have thought of that. Now you have inspired me to make some quick preserved lemon slices so the rind is edible. I will start work on that as soon as I can.

    talk to you later,

  6. Thanks, Alicia! How do you preserve lemon slices so the rind is edible? I think you'd really like those sandwiches (which certainly would never have occurred to me, either!) And no doubt you'll even be able to find the Monstermunchinspratzenachtung bread the recipe calls for! :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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