For the Fall Vegetable Garden, Think Kale

comments (2) August 12th, 2009

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Ruth Ruth Dobsevage, Web producer
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A row of White Russian kale thrives in the fall, when the stars of the summer garden have dimmed.
When they become a bit sturdier, these kale seedlings will be thinned. The thinnings are a tasty addition to salads and stir-fries.
Red Russian kale in the winter garden.
A row of White Russian kale thrives in the fall, when the stars of the summer garden have dimmed.Click To Enlarge

A row of 'White Russian' kale thrives in the fall, when the stars of the summer garden have dimmed.

Photo: Ruth Dobsevage

If you're looking for a robust, nutritious green that survives way past frost, consider planting some kale. It's rich in vitamins (especially A and C), minerals, and anti-oxidants, and its assertive flavor is perfect for fall dishes.

Commonly available varieties include 'Scotch' (with curly leaves), 'Lacinato' (with oval, elongated leaves), 'Red Russian' and 'White Russian' (with deeply indented leaves). If you can't find kale seeds locally, try Seed Savers Exchange, Pinetree Seeds, or Fedco Seeds.

For a fall harvest, I plant kale in midsummer, when a lettuce, garlic, or onion bed frees up. Kale grows best in full sun, but partial shade works, too, if that's what you have. In shallow furrows 6 to 8 inches apart, I plant a seed maybe every inch or two, then thin to about 6 inches apart once the plants are a couple of inches tall.

Kale takes roughly 60 days to mature fully, but plants needn't be picked then. Kale tastes best after a frost. In my southwest Connecticut garden (zone 6a), there are many years that I've harvested kale well into January.

Kale in the kitchen
To prepare kale as a side dish, I like to separate the leafy part from the tougher rib, then sauté the leaves in olive oil with sliced garlic. I also like to make a hearty soup, a version of Portuguese caldo verde, using onions, potatoes, navy beans, kale, sausage, and bouillon cubes. My recipe is adapted from The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors, by Jeff Smith. This year, I might try Kate Frank's recipe for Crispy Kale.


posted in: fall garden, greens

Comments (2)

10shoe writes: Would love to hear how you like "WENDYS KALE CHIPS" and any new innovations people come up with. The Smoked Paprika can get fairly spicy so the ratio of Smoked to Mild may be adjusted to taste. I like to serve them with homemade Greek Yogurt Dip to balance the spicy heat.
Posted: 5:01 pm on May 19th
10shoe writes: I made up a recipe for Kale Chips after deciding the store bought ones didn't taste that good, were very expensive and often not organic. I consistently get good results and hope you do too. The seasonings may be varied to taste and for variety. Use your imagination. So far I've also made Tex-Mex using taco seasoning, chili lime powder; Garlic Pepper Buttermilk using dried buttermilk powder, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed,black pepper; Asian using different combos of 5Spice powder, wasabi powder, sesame oil, ginger, Japanese chili seasoning; Curry and Garlic Parmesan.

Pre-heat oven to 250-200 degrees.
Line baking sheets with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Wash and thoroughly dry 2-3 bunches of kale. It is important that they are as dry as possible. I wash them ahead of time and let them air dry with the stalks standing up in a colander for a few hours or even overnight.
In a very large mixing bowl, combine 1T olive oil, 1-2T Tumeric, 1T smoked Paprika, 1T mild Paprika, 1-2t garlic powder, 1t grd Ginger and 1T Hard Cider (a sweeter type) or apple juice. Stir to form a paste and smear on the sides of the bowl.
Tear dry kale off from the tough ribs like you would for a salad and put in bowl with seasonings. Toss, stir, knead and rub around bowl until all the kale is well coated. Kale is a very hardy vegetable so don't be afraid to really work it with your hands. It's okay if they get soft or even a bit wilted as long as they're well coated.
Spread on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese or Fort Braggs Yeast Seasoning or both. Place in the oven for anywhere from 1 to 6 hours until very crispy like potato chips. Baking time will vary depending on humidity and oven temp. If using 250 check after 1hr then every 30min as it can get a bit burnt. If 200 you can pretty much just leave it in there and forget about it.
Salt to taste while still warm, popcorn salt sticks the best if you want it salty. Let cool (5min) and store in an airtight container. If they start to lose their crunch you can put them back on a baking sheet and in a 250 degree oven for 10 minutes. They will easily keep for 7-10 days as long as they remain dry.
The fresher the kale the better the flavor will be since older kale can have a bitter after taste.
Good luck! I hope you like them and they're low-fat/calories if you don't over do the cheese. Very Healthy :)

Posted: 4:54 pm on May 19th
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