Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Almighty & Resourceful Kale

The Versatile Kale
Brien Darby, ACGA Secretary

One of the most versatile and plentiful vegetables commonly seen in community gardens around the country is kale.  By now, we’ve all heard the health buzz surrounding kale (contains high levels of vitamins A, K, and C and calcium) and many of us have probably seen our fair share of off-the-wall kale-infused recipes at local eateries (I’m looking at you, mac and cheese and kale sandwich).  But one of the most rewarding benefits that kale offers in the garden is the relative ease of growing. 

While it is true that the optimal conditions for growing kale are often found in the late spring and early fall throughout much of the United States, kale plants can withstand temperatures from the  low 20’s to  the upper 90’s and can be grown and harvested in all three seasons.  More than anything, kale needs even watering practices and moisture levels to retain its sweet taste and mild texture.  In traditionally warmer climates, this can be achieved by planting kale in an area with partial shade and by using mulch.  In most areas, kale can become a magnet for aphids in the later months.  This can be avoided by planting with proper spacing, harvesting leaves often, and cleaning up plant debris.  Kale that is harvested in months with consistently cooler temperatures will typically have a sweeter taste and can be eaten and prepared raw; when kale is harvested in the warmer months, it is often better used in recipes that require cooking. 

One of my favorite recipes that is well-suited for kale harvested at any time of year is kale almond pesto.

1 bunch kale, steamed to bright green
½ cup toasted almonds
3 cloves roasted garlic
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch red pepper flakes

1.    Place kale in a food processor  and pulse until chopped (or chop by hand)
2.    Add almonds and garlic and pulse again
3.    Pulse in salt, lemon juice, oil and pepper flakes
4.    Continue pulsing until pesto reaches desired consistency (I like mine fairly smooth)
5.    Finished pesto can be served traditionally over pasta or atop crackers as an appetizer

For the full article in Organic Eats Magazine and additional delicious kale recipes go to