If you’re eating vegetables for their health benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find something betthan than kale. Low in calories, full of fiber, and rich in vitamins, A,C and K, it’s commonly referred to as a “nutrition powerhouse.” Of course, I’m not the first person to discover this, so there are recipes all over creation trying to make kale, which can be challenging, palatable. This one actually succeeds. You may think that there are no new frontiers to be conquered with regards to kale salad, but you would be mistaken. This kale salad is epic. This kale salad is the one that people go back for seconds for on a buffet. This kale salad caused my five year old to utter the words, “Sigh. MOOOOOMMM. Why can’t you just make kale salad again?” (She is five going on fifteen). This kale salad will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. [...]
There seems to be this idea out there that kids will not eat vegetables. There are suggestions to disguise the vegetables as trees, or puree them and hide them in the brownies. I just don’t get it. Sure, some kids are neophobes — they will view anything unfamiliar with suspicion. And some kids won’t touch anything green. But I think it’s our job as parents not only to get them to EAT vegetables, in some sneaky and underhanded manner, but to actually get them to like vegetables, as vegetables. That’s going to serve them a lot better in life than never eating spinach unless it’s part of a cupcake.
The challenge is in how to do that. And there is no answer that works for every kid. Try different things. Prepare vegetables in different ways. Try roasting them, or sauteeing with a little bacon, or serving a salad, or baking into a lasagna. Let them dip the vegetables in ranch dressing, or cover them with a cheese sauce. If they don’t like green vegetables, cook carrots or cauliflower or pattypan squash. Make vegetables, in all of their wondrous variety, a part of their life.
Before you run screaming for the hills, don’t think that the Nuni is sitting there saying “How about some cardoons for Sunday brunch today, Mom?” She’s not a great eater in general in terms of quantity, and macaroni and cheese or ice cream tend to be more successful than bell peppers and eggplant. (And I fully admit that there have been nights when dinner WAS ice cream, ideally washed down by a vitamin and some green juice from Trader Joe’s (that stuff is magic — it looks like pond scum, but tastes like bananas and mangos, and has things like spinach and seaweed in it). But I keep trying. I serve her the veggies she’ll reliably eat, like carrot sticks and raw broccoli, and I keep trying new preparations on her. And occasionally, I hit gold.
Last week we were driving home, carrying on our typical patter “Who did you play with today? What books did you read? What do you want for dinner?” (the answer is usually “Macaroni and cheese, because that’s a dish she remembers), when she suddenly piped up “I want kale for dinner.” Kale? My child wants kale? Not one to miss an opportunity, I stopped at the Whole Foods on the way home to pick up some kale, and rushed when I got home to prepare these kale chips. [...]
Something funny has been happening this winter — kale has become a staple in my refrigerator. A week rarely passes when I don’t buy a bunch, either from the farmer’s market or during a Whole Foods run. It’s a combination of being drawn to the purported health benefits of kale, admiring its ruffled appearance and just plain liking the taste. Kale has a savory heartiness that doesn’t contain the metallic tones of spinach or the sometimes bitter flavors of collards or mustard greens.
Sometimes I make kale chips or crispy kale (google and you’ll find a kajillion recipes — one of these days I might even get around to posting my recipe, but it usually gets eaten too fast to take pictures), but more often, especially when my kale buying enthusiasm and my cooking time do not overlap, I end up making this creamed kale. It can be made with wilted greens, which is a plus in the flexibility department, and is easy and delicious to boot. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention round these parts, you may have noticed creamed kale keeping company with Lamb Top Round and Pommes Anna on New Year’s Eve, or setting off this chicken sausage casserole. It’s a versatile and hearty dish, and one that has become a regular in my kitchen. [...]
When I was growing up, I was never told to eat my brussels sprouts. Or my lima beans. Or my parsnips. This isn’t because I was some infant prodigy vegetable lover, but because these vegetables, and many others, never graced our family table. My father, who is a gourmand in many other ways, has a decided aversion to most vegetables. (He claims he’s allergic to beets, having developed a rash when fed them at the age of two. He has not eaten beets in the intervening sixty years. I am skeptical.) We did have a green salad almost every night with dinner, and my mother does make the world’s best Caesar salad, but I never encountered kohlrabi or rutabagas until I was all grown up and eating them in my own kitchen, so I never developed a distaste for those little beauties. Because of my sheltered childhood, I have a strong and lasting love for cruciferous vegetables – those strongly flavored, cancer fighting, generally awesome brassicas that are despised by children the world over. Bring on the Brussels sprouts! Cue the cauliflower! Of all the cruciferous vegetables, I would say cabbage might just be my favorite. It’s versatile, performing equally well in salads and stir fries, it’s sweet, and salty, and perfectly crunchy, and best of all, it lasts a good long time in my refrigerator drawer. Cabbage Photo. That is why when I saw the recipe in the New York Times for kale and cabbage gratin, I knew I hit the jackpot. Cabbage! And Kale (another Brassica, and the healthiest vegetable)! And I’m not turning up my nose at Gruyere either. Full Post [...]