Kale Secrets Revealed

| Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

One of the biggest obstacles people face when it comes to eating dark, leafy greens like the kale above is figuring out how to prepare them to make them taste delicious. Many older greens can taste bitter and tough when undercooked or mushy when overcooked. Knowing how to create tender, flavorful greens anytime of the year requires learning a few tricks like I’ve listed below. Once you’ve tried a few of these ideas you’ll be including these wonderfoods in many meals to come.                                           -To your good health, Lee Newlin

Storage
• Keep greens chilled in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for 5 days if in the proper storage bags ( I recommend “green bags” which remove ethylene gas from produce and are reusable) Use them as soon as possible to reap the health benefits fully. Do not wash kale before storing in the refrigerator as exposure to water encourages spoilage.
Prepping:
• Remove any thick stems (just hold the kale upside down by the stems and strip the leaves off with your hand), then stack large greens on top of one another, roll them into tight bundles and slice into thin ribbons. Don’t compost the stems!  They are loaded with nutrition and if finely chopped, can be sautéed along with onion. To get the most health benefits from kale, let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking. Sprinkling with lemon juice while allowing the kale to rest prior to heat  can further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration.
Blanching:
• Blanching reduces bitterness and softens the tougher greens of winter, which is useful if you want to follow up with a quick stir fry or to freeze them for later use. To blanch kale, stir stripped leaves into boiling water for a minute or two, drain, then immediately plunge into a bowl of cold water. Proceed with your recipe.
Braising:
• Braising tenderizes and adds a deeper flavor. To braise, slow cook 1 pound of greens in 1/2 cup of salted cooking liquid (stock or wine or water) for about 20 minutes or until greens are tender and ready to eat. You could add other flavor enhancements like minced garlic, ginger at the beginning. We like tamari (soy sauce), mirin, just a tad of toasted sesame oil, a dash or two of hot pepper sauce and plum vinegar but do taste as you add to make it your own recipe.  Another favorite combination is simply minced garlic and ginger, diced onion and vegetable stock.   Braise until tender, usually 15 minutes.  Yum!
Use in Salads:
• While kale is a go-to green for soups and braising, it also works surprisingly well uncooked in salads. The key to turning these leaves tender enough to eat raw is to use your hands to massage the sliced thinly leaves with an acid like lemon, a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper
• To prepare the kale for a massaged salad, strip the stems and cut into thin ribbons. Then add dressing ingredients and using your hands, massage them into the greens thoroughly, which “collapses” or softens the leaves. You can let the kale marinate for a bit before serving.
• Using avocado instead of the olive oil is delicious! Just rub the juice of one lemon and one chopped fully ripe avocado into a cleaned, stemmed and shredded bunch of kale, then season to taste.  Mix in a cup of diced tomatoes and you will put this recipe on your “Foolproof” and “go to” list for sure.

For Breakfast, really?:  Try adding fresh arugula on top of toast with hummus.  We cannot eat it  without these amazing and delicious greens.