Summers in Wisconsin are so great. Winters tend to be a little tough, in my opinion. I truly love going to the outdoor farmer’s market every Saturday during the summer to purchase beautiful produce that is locally grown. More than 9 weeks have past since our last visit to the outdoor market. Not too many veggies are at their peak right now, and the Saturday a.m. market may be looking a little grim if it were held through the winter.
But there is one gem that comes to mind that is perfect to by right now, in the middle of winter in Wisconsin. Leafy green kale is an antioxidant packed, trendy, and versatile veggie that is available in most grocer’s aisles right now. Kale has crunchy leaves and a bit of a pleasant peppery bite. Often times, kale may be added to heartier recipes such as soups, stews, and pasta dishes. Kale contains vitamins A, C, and K as well as beta carotene, lutein, calcium, and fiber. It may play a key role in reducing internal inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels, and protecting the immune system – perfect for the winter!
There are several varieties of kale including curly leaf kale, Tuscan kale, dinosaur kale, and plain leaved kale. The bright green curly leaf kale is the one most likely found at your local grocer. Kale is in the cabbage family and relatively inexpensive; it is, however, on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list (list of vegetables that tend to have the most pesticide residue) so I strongly suggest to spring for organic (may cost you $3 for a big bunch instead of $2).
Look for a bunch with perky leaves and no bruising or yellowing. Curly leaf kale should be bright green and Tuscan kale should be dark olive. Most recipes call to remove the tough stalk that runs down the middle of the kale leaf. You can then steam, stir-fry, braise or grill your green veggie or add it to your soup, stew or other dish. If you find kale to be a bit to “nippy” for your taste initially, you can freeze it for a bit and then thaw out – it will taste sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost. Store your thoroughly dried kale leaves in an airtight baggie/container for no longer than 3 days in the fridge.
Kale is a great ingredient to use in green smoothies! Right now, I am jealous of a few of my friends who received Vitamixes for Christmas (you all know who you are). Well, great for you guys! I am happy for you….and now I am coming over to enjoy your kitchen and some great green smoothies! Visiting all of you will help me pass the next 17+ weeks until the Saturday morning farmer’s market returns to my neighborhood…and spring/summer is upon us once again.