Whenever a first time gardener asks my advice on what they should plant, I always say kale. Everyone should have some kale.
Kale is amazingly easy to grow, especially in Florida. It thrives in the spring and fall and grows right on through a winter freeze. It doesn’t exactly love the summer, but a few kale plants in partial shade will still provide you with fresh homegrown greens all year long. It is resistant to most pests and crowds out its own weeds. Several varieties are available from tall and green to compact and bright. Multicolored ornamental kales are often sold as a landscaping plant, but they are still kale. Use them to brighten up your yard and don’t be afraid to snack on them from time to time. Colorful garden kales such as Red Russian or Rainbow will add interest and texture to your vegetable beds.
Nutrition-wise, kale is a powerhouse plant. It is easier to tell you what is not in it that to list all the benefits in this vegetable. Like its cousin broccoli, it contains calcium. It also has plenty of vitamin C, beta carotene, and other carotenoids. What really makes kale worth eating though, is its potential as an anti-cancer food. It has sulforaphane, which is an anti-cancer chemical. It also has something called indole-3-carbinol, which is a chemical that not only boosts the DNA repair in your cells, it has been proven to block the growth of new cancer cells. Of course raw kale packs the most punch, but wilting it in a stir fry or steaming it will still preserve most of the important nutrients.
Kale lends itself very well to the kitchen. Steamed, stir-fried, in salads, juiced, or made into chips, there is a kale for everything.
Pasta with Kale
8 Oz. Whole Grain Pasta cooked and drained
1 Bunch Kale (Remove stems, chop up)
4 Cups Chopped Fresh Tomato (Grape tomatoes are sweeter)
1 Red Onion (Chopped)
2 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
2 Tblsp. Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Pine Nuts (Can substitute walnuts)
1/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
1/4 Cup Chicken Broth (Can substitute vegetable for vegetarian entree)
1 Tblsp. Chopped Fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic, onion, basil, salt, and pepper. Cook until just beginning to brown. Add kale and cook another 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add tomatoes and cook another 1-2 minutes until they are softened. Toss the cooked kale mixture and all remaining ingredients with the pasta. Serves 4.