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Experiment with Kale

Gardens are growing plentiful this time of year. If you are lucky enough to have your own garden, or have family, friends, or co-workers willing to share the fruits (and vegetables!) of their labor, you know the goodness of fresh produce.

My parents were both teachers and they stayed busy in the summer with huge gardens. We children would help plant, weed, pick, and harvest the produce and enjoy the good tasting vegetables all year long. There are no longer children at home but my parents still have large gardens and there is plenty to share. For example, Dad admitted, "I didn't know if the pepper plants would grow so I planted three of them." I took two grocery bags home full of green peppers. Needless to say, all three plants produced.

Kale is a leafy green that Dad has been growing for years. Like many plants, the more it gets picked the more it produces. Therefore, I've searched for many kale recipes to use up the dark green vegetable, which, according to Wikipedia is one of the most highly nutritious vegetables. It is full of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, lutein, and fiber.

In addition of the nutritional values of this vegetable, kale tastes good! My favorite kale recipe is a white bean, potato and kale soup, similar to the Zuppa Toscana soup at Olive Garden. Additionally, kale can be mixed with salad greens to add dark color and a curly texture. A fast and lovely appetizer idea: spread vegetable dip down the middle of the smaller kale leaves. The white dip against the dark green kale looks very pretty on a platter.

A new experiment for us this year was to freeze kale. Wash and remove the middle vein. Blanche for one minute and immediately rinse in cold water. I chose to get as much water out of the kale as possible (salad spinner makes it an easy process) and then coarsely chopped before bagging. Snack size bags hold about a cup, which would be similar to the 9 oz. boxes of frozen, chopped spinach one can purchase. Frozen kale can be added to soup or used in recipes in place of spinach.

Last night was my first attempt at sautéing kale. Yum! I am one to look at a recipe and then make adjustments as I deem appropriate. The following is one such experiment.

Sautéed Kale

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 bunches of kale, washed, middle vein stripped, and coarsely chopped

½ cup chicken broth

½ teaspoon soy sauce, optional

Heat oil in a large frying pan, dutch oven or stir-fry pan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes or just until soft. Add the kale - it will fill the entire pot - gently turn the kale so it cooks evenly, 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and soy sauce. Cover approximately 5 minutes until desired doneness or the liquid has evaporated.

This is great to eat plain or as a side dish mixed with rice or couscous. Makes about 4 servings.