Curly Kale, the "Hip" vegetable
29 Oct 2013 10.22 am by K. Daniel
In this author's recent quest to become healthier, I have exposed myself to a whole lot of mystery of the green kind. That means going beyond the typical iceberg lettuce and carrots in favour of darker leafy greens such as spinach, mesclun mixes and rocket. Alltogether now, Ughhhhhh....
Well ok I mayyyy be exaggerating ever so slightly, and honestly my salad lunches have been quite pleasant to say the least. Not to mention the psychological feel good feeling that I get from subjecting my tastebuds to the flavour of mother nature. Greasy chips are out, fresh raw vegetables are in. As my conciousness slips and sanity spirals down due to the lack of bacon grease in my arteries for the past month or so, I begin to appreciate what the produce isle has to offer.
At that point i saw kale. The curly variety. On sale.
I've encountered curly kale a few times now, tried cooking the leafy greens myself once, and had them on toast with poached eggs for brunch. I am familiar with it's curves and frills, an oddity of a vegetable even if I do say so myself. Cooking doesn't exactly cause curly kale leaves to soften much, and each bite provides an interesting textural crunch.
Oddly, and perhaps sadly, you don't see it much on the menu either, or at least around where i live. A friend once related that kale is the vegetable of choice for cool hipsters and the underground crowd, rarely surfacing in mainstream food establishments. My take on it is that probably people don't necessarily enjoy the texture of springy plastic in their greens.
After the brief random flashback, I decided to jump in the deep end and try preparing it a second time. In this site we've discussed how to pick, store, and select kale here, so i knew what to look out for. Work benefits i guess.
Now here is why i decided to write up this collumn. On the night i prepared the leaves from one stalk (there were two in a bunch when I bought them) things were great. They tasted and felt exacly the way I thought they would be. Crunchy and slightly chewy. All I had to do was put a bit of oil and garlic and cook them till the greens darkened and got slightly shiny. Easy.
The second time, for today's lunch, I included the entire stalk. Bad move.
Have you ever swallowed or had to pull out a fishbone out from your mouth mid-chew? Imagine that feeling, from a vegetable. Kale stalks, as I found out, are really, REALLY tough. As i chewed, the stalks shredded into splintery pieces, not exactly a great eating experience.
The warning signs were there during prep time though. As I tried chopping the stalks they were really hard to begin with, and resisted the knife fairly well. Because of this I decided to cut larger, longer pieces. Silly me.
But lesson learnt. The next time I prepare that second bunch, I'll probably just remove the stalk alltogether. Or cook them longer.
Alternatively, I can always sell them off to the hipsters.
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