Key Ingredient


Ingredient of the week

Key ingredient: sage

Kale and collard greens are staples in the South, but are readily available in our markets, too. Yet because of kale's ornamental quality, many shy away from consuming this tasty green.

Treat kale as you would spinach. It is surprisingly mild in flavor and doesn't require much cooking time, about 15 to 25 minutes depending on how much you're cooking. Kale also packs a nutritious punch.

The basics: Kale is believed to be among the oldest members of the cabbage family. This frilly green originated in the eastern Mediterranean and was a popular vegetable in the Greek and Roman diet.

The most commonly available kale is the deep green variety, although shades of blue, purple and red are also available. Kale is immediately identified by its sturdy, curly leaves. Its flavor is mild and cabbage-like. It's a good source of vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium and iron.

Selecting: Kale leaves are generally sold in 8-ounce bunches. Leaves should look sturdy and not limp. Smaller leaves tend to be more tender.

Storing: Kale should be stored in the coolest part of the refrigerator for only a couple of days. After two to three days the leaves may go limp and turn bitter.

Use: Kale can be used much like spinach in soups, salads and stir-fries. Rinse the leaves and remove the hard center stem. The leaves can then be rolled and sliced into ribbons and tossed in salads or simply blanched and tossed with a bit of butter. Braised kale with bacon and onions is a popular side dish. Potato is often paired with kale in gratins or soups. Portuguese kale soup with sausage also makes for a hearty meal.

Where to buy: Kale is available year-round in markets, but is at its sweetest in the fall and winter. Prices range from $1.49 to $2.99 for a half-pound bunch.

Food Stuffs: Morsels

Eleanor Nakama-Mitsunaga is
a free-lance food writer. Contact her
online through

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