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K is For Kale

Vegetables from A to Z

By Hannah Marcotti

How was I to decide on a recipe to share with you using a vegetable that lends greatness to so many dishes? I adore kale. It would be safe to say kale has changed my life. It taught me to love dark greens and showed me how delicious they can be outside of a chicken soup. Most of the women I work with in my Health Counseling practice take to dark greens once they are given simple recipes and techniques for preparing them. Many find themselves craving greens and adding them to breakfast dishes. I call my morning greens a shot of energy. Full of beta carotene, vitamins A and K (which are fat soluble), calcium and  anti-inflammatory properties, I cannot get enough of this dark green. It has a slightly alluring and addictive quality; seeing it as a garnish can break the heart of a passionate foodie!

KisforKale-webMy daughter loves kale salad. One of the reasons is the preparation of the leaves, which involves “rubbing.” Get all the kids involved in this one. After washing the leaves and removing the stems, chop the leaves into bite-size pieces. Have the kids dip clean fingertips into some tasty olive oil and simply rub the leaves. Massaging them helps to break down their tough bite and replace it with a soft and bright green leaf.  After you rub the kale, or other dark greens, add whatever other remaining salad ingredients you choose and toss with dressing. Kale also loves to be sauted and combined with nuts and berries, making a seasonal looking and tasting dish. Sauté the kale in olive oil just until wilted, remove and add in sliced almonds and dried cranberries. A splash of balsamic vinegar is all you need to add a brightness to this kale sauté. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t like the greens. The involvement with touching, smelling and talking about greens will create exposure to this healthy food.

Kale chips have become quite popular. I may be one of the few who is not head over heels for these chips. It’s like when there is a movie you want to see and everybody tells you how good it is; then you see it with expectations that can never be fulfilled. That seems to be my trouble with kale chips. Compare them to a potato chip and I’m sorry, nothing tastes like a potato chip. I loved the idea of kale chips so I decided to come up with a fancy version using some staples that I always keep on hand. Although kale chips are typically made with curly kale, I used lacinato kale or dinosaur kale. Lacinato kale typically has tender stems that can be left in your recipes.

The result of this little experiment was better than I had hoped. With the crunch of the almonds and the tang of the lemon, I was back in kale bliss. Next time you are at the market, grab a couple bunches of dinosaur kale and give this one a shot. I predict you’ll find yourself coming back for more.

Baked Kale with Almonds, Garlic and Lemon

1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and chopped into bite-size pieces (remove stems if they’re large and tough)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey or agave
Splash of umeboshi vinegar (available at Whole Foods) or apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic, chopped
Zest from 1 lemon

2 tablespoon sliced almonds
1 tablespoon maple syrup, honey or agave

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, rub the kale with the olive oil. Add the honey or agave, umeboshi vinegar and salt and pepper. Mix in garlic and lemon zest and spread the kale mixture on the baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together the almonds and maple syrup or other sweetener until almonds are coated. Sprinkle them over the kale, bake for about 10 minutes. You can vary the cooking time depending on how you like the kale; longer will produce a crispier bite. After the kale has been removed from the oven, give it a nice squeeze of fresh lemon juice and enjoy warm. You can double this and serve as a side dish for a lovely dinner party or use as an appetizer. Prepare it ahead of time on the baking sheet and put it in just before you are ready to serve.

Hannah Marcotti is a holistic health counselor who helps women achieve and maintain their ideal weight, find more energy, figure out the food that works for their body type and ease family meal-time chaos! For more health tips and recipes, sign up for her free e-newsletter at  Hannah’s Harvest, (www.hannahsharvest.com). To find additional recipes and stories of life with three children, visit her blog, Hannah’s Harvest Thoughts (www.hannahs-harvest.blogspot.com).

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  • Why stop at kale alone?? Use your csa bag of braising greens for this. It is yummy with some chicken & apple sausages!

    Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Braising Greens

    Roast sweet potato wedges tossed with melted butter, S & P at 400 until cooked.
    Saute onion and 1 crisp apple in olive oil.
    Add 2T brown sugar and stir
    Add washed and torn greens while still wet (the H2O will act as the liquid to steam the greens). Toss together and cover for 5 min.
    Add potatoes and toss.


  • What I would give for my 4 year old to look (even sideways) at a dark green vegetable. Sadly, I’ll have to keep this yummy looking recipe for myself, though I’ll have him help me ‘rub’ it and maybe he’ll take a taste… a girl can dream.

  • thank you so much for this hannah!

    i’ve been in a csa for five years now and kale is *the* consistent vegetable from week one to week 20.

    for the first couple of years, i just didn’t take any.

    then i started taking it and chopping it up and hiding it in stuff.

    hoping this year to really embrace all things kale!!!


  • Hannah:
    Who knew at my age that I would learn to ADORE kale? Of course, it was your enthusiasm and advice that encouraged me to prepare it – from pureed “green” soups to scrambled eggs, from steamed kale with goat cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil to kale frittata. Thank you, Hannah, for the culinary/nutritional inspiration you have imparted on both me and my family.

  • there was a heidi swanson recipe very similar to this in food & wine last month–i thought it was… eh. this hannah version looks perfect. make mine a double.

  • I’ve been an in your face kale chip evangelist thanks to my glowing friend Miriam. So now I always have bunches of kale in my fridge. And so I will try this recipe today. Hannah’s recipes rule. Never a dud.