Sunday, 11 August 2013

Keeping up with Kale

Cam: How was the market? 
Mitch: Well, it was great, but guess what the new spinach is?
Cam: Um, radicchio? 
Mitch: Kale.
Cam: No! 
Mitch: I know! I was just as blown away as you are.
Modern Family, Two Monkeys and a Panda

Photo by Ruby Fenn

Kale seems to have swept into our consciousness, on a whirlwind of antioxidants and superstars, touting its many benefits. Taste, unfortunately, does not always appear to be one of them.

What kind of produce needs disguising, both as a chip and a smoothie? Can you imagine a potato smoothie? No.

And yet, the kale juggernaut marches on, sweeping telly hosts and nutrionists in its wake. There are now numerous single subject cookbooks about kale, including Kale Recipes For Kids and Fifty Shades of Kale by Dr Drew Ramsey. Right.

Now I've always thought that kale was lovely, as a flower. As a potted plant. You can find these charming displays at our flower sellers and Prahran Garden Centre. But when other people started bringing kale smoothies and salads in for lunch, when a colleague bolted down the stairs to get the last bunch for her Friday night dinner, I knew it had reached critical mass.

And so I yielded. Not particularly graciously, but yielded nonetheless. I tried sturdy, dark green kale from F & J Fruiterers. I tried the leafy, red-tinged organic stuff from Paddlewheel (grown by Wayne Shields on the Mornington Peninsula). And then Damian Pike was sent a box of baby red kale by mistake and I knew I'd found the one for me.

In its baby state, the stalks are still soft(ish). A quick wash and it's ready to be popped in the pan. The first time I cooked red kale (truthfully more a dark, blackcurrant colour), the leaves began to turn green in the heat, heading back to purple as it cooled. I'm used to it now and when my dinner guests are startled, just say offhandedly "Oh that's kale. Doesn't yours do that?" 

So kale may be a superfood but even the most confirmed sceptic can find the one that fits. If I can, anyone can. Trust me. And Dr Drew.

1 comment:

  1. Love a bit of Kale but know what you mean about the taste - it's acquired shall we say. A bit like Vegemite for non-Aussies. I make garlic and sesame chips for my eldest daughter and she loves them. The youngest one, not so much..... I guess you can't win them all.