This December we celebrate kale, a nutritional powerhouse in the kitchen and a stalwart in the garden. You can plant this green at any point during the growing season, and enjoy it through the winter. It will stop growing once it gets cold out, but the leaves will remain intact on the plant for you to harvest whenever you need some for dinner.
In the schools, we love to make kale chips, kale pesto, and even kale smoothies with the students. If you visit the farmer’s market, you might notice that kale comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors, including curly, flat-leafed, purple, dark green, micro-size, and large-leaved. The small, curly kale is great with a little oil, lemon juice, and salt for a side salad. Larger Toscano or “dinosaur kale” is great chopped up and sautéed with a little bit of olive oil until wilted. Every type of kale is great as a chip massaged with oil and baked for about 15 minutes at 350°.
Students and teachers in our public schools are tasting pickled kale stems through our Harvest of the Month taste-test program. If you are stripping down kale for a meal, try saving the stems and making this recipe at home.
Pickled Kale Stems: Recipe by Robin Forte
1 cup white vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns, cracked
8 large kale stems, washed and cut into 1½-inch pieces
* optional ¼ tsp. red chili flakes
Bring the vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from the heat and add garlic, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and chili flakes if you are using them.
Place kale stem pieces in a large bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over it. Stir to combine spices. Make sure all the pieces are submerged in the brine. Allow to cool completely before serving.