I think a love of kale should be a required qualification for the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. While we’re at it, maybe growing kale should be a requirement for voting (there are worse ideas out there...), or it should become official Alaska currency! Why should kale sit quietly aside as cabbage and zucchini get all the attention at State Fairs? Kale caucus unite!
You’re not fond of kale, you say? Your kids won’t eat it or you don’t know how to cook it? These new Kale Laws are unfair! Well, you haven’t tried this Alaskan delicacy in the right recipe, I bet. Or watched it grow into the biggest, greenest, most beautiful plant in your garden while your spinach bolted like a cheechako from a bear.
Like many Alaskans, kale started it’s life somewhere warmer (probably the Mediterranean!), but on arriving in our cool, rainy, northern climes, found its real home in northern gardens. This is our incredible good fortune, because kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat. One cup contains significant amounts of vitamins A, C, K, and B6 as well as potassium, calcium, iron, manganese and carotenes. The nutrients in kale help your body protect itself from colds, vision problems and cancer, as well as keep your bones strong and help you sleep better.
In my household (which includes a teen and a preschooler) kale is begged for, with passion, on bended knee! Honest to goodness. With two busy working parents, the recipe of choice in our family is the fast and simple Balsamic Braised Kale (recipe below). But I’ve also made kale chips, savory kale bread pudding and put kale into smoothies. For a recent Girl Scout Camp workshop I added Chocolate Kale Cupcakes to the list; suddenly the menu was complete and we called it a Kale-abration!
At Saturday’s Food Festival at the JACC I know some folks had kale to sell. If you didn’t buy it at the Fest, you can find it at any local produce section and click over to the Juneau Extension office’s Facebook page (UAF.CES.Juneau) for the recipes I listed above. You’ll come to love kale so much you may even start growing some in your garden or containers next spring.
In fact, I think there should be an amendment to one of my Kale Laws: If you love kale and grow it in your garden, your PFD should be doubled. Now will you give it a try?
Balsamic Braised Kale
This is one of the easiest ways to cook kale. The sweet and sour balsamic vinegar with the still-a-bit-crunchy braised kale and crispy garlic will make it a family favorite.
Ingredients for four side-dish servings:
1-2 bunches kale (it cooks down, so overestimate)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1. Cut off the ends of the kale stems and place whole leaves in a colander. Rinse the kale well and drip dry, but allow the leaves to remain wet.
2. Heat the oil in a large sautéing pan over med-high, add the garlic slices and fry for 30 seconds.
3. Turn heat down to medium, Add the wet kale to pan and quickly cover with a tight-fitting lid. Open the lid only to add the vinegar and close again. Braise for 3 minutes.
4. Lift the lid and flip the kale with tongs.
5. Cook for an additional 3 minutes.
Put the kale in a serving bowl, pour remaining pan liquid over it, sprinkle with the garlic from the bottom of the pan, and serve hot.
• For more information, contact Sarah at 796-6241 in Juneau or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or come by the UAF Cooperative Extension Office in the Bill Ray Center, 1108 F Street, Suite 213.