Food

Leaf Love

The kale conspiracy

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Kale has reached that point on the popularity curve where people are hating it because its popular.

Once, it was easy to file away this dark-green leafy vegetable as just some hippie food, but now it’s everywhere. Still, many people don’t enjoy eating it. And sometimes these haters get triggered by people who do.

For some reason it’s natural to resent success in others, and kale is a wildly successful species. Forget conspiracy theory. The ascendence of kale is a conspiracy fact.

Whether you’re in it for the fiber, the calcium or the social statement, you still have to actually swallow it. So it isn’t a matter of putting kale in everything, as much as putting everything, or anything, into kale that will make it more palatable. Because regardless of what the haters and the trolls would like you to believe, the more kale (and leaves like it) that you eat, the healthier you will be.

In terms of health impact, almost anything that can be said about kale can be said about collard greens, chard, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli leaves, and many others. But the following tactics are tailored to kale specifically, and focus on consuming between three and six kale leaves per day.

Novices may want to start by massaging their kale, for a softer salad. Squeezing and rubbing the leaves with your hands will break the cells, releasing enzymes that begin cutting up those fiber chains. Massaging with salt and lime juice increases the effect, and since both of those are in the dressing there’s no reason not to.

The dressing consists of olive oil, lime or lemon juice, and salt. Vinegar, while acidic, makes a terrible substitute for lime or lemon. My wife typically doubles down on the salt by adding feta or parmesan cheese to the salad. And she adds onion, because something needs to stand up to all of that fat and fiber.

Strip the leafy parts from the stem and mince six leaves of kale. Use half a cup of olive oil, a quarter cup of lime juice, and salt to taste. If you want to massage it, take a quarter-cup of dressing and rub it in. Then toss in the rest, and add extras like cheese, onion, olives or sun-dried tomatoes.

Cooking kale with bacon recalls the Southern dish of collards and ham hock, and that’s no coincidence. Pork and brassicas—a plant family that also includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts—is a winning combination. I usually make a mix of soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar or lime juice.

Rip the leafy parts off the stem of three or so kale leaves, and mince the leafy parts. Cut bacon into little pieces and fry. When it’s half-cooked add the garlic, and lay the kale on top. When it wilts down, stir it around, season with black pepper, hot pepper, and finally pour in your sauce. Those leaves will shrink way down, and look even smaller as soon as you take your first bite.

There isn’t enough space for me to tell you how to make green smoothies and kale chips. Suffice it to say, if you really want to make the green medicine go down easy, you can do worse than make your kale taste like ice cream and potato chips.

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