Market Watch: Kale

Local healthy chef and RD Katie Cavuto-Boyle shares the good-for-you, in-season fare to eat this week

If you participate in a CSA or frequent Philly’s farmers markets, you are most likely familiar with kale. If not, now is the perfect time to try this gorgeous, leafy green. Think of it like spinach with more texture and flavor.

There are several types and colors of kale (red, green, curly, and, my favorite, lacinato), and each one offers a different taste and texture. But no matter the variety, kale is super-good for you. It’s packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and potassium.

Curly kale has a deep green color, ruffled leaves, and a fibrous stalk. It has a more pungent flavor than other varieties of kale, and tastes a bit peppery. Ornamental kale may be green, white, or purple and is mellower in flavor and more tender than curly kale. Lacinato kale has the sweetest and most delicate taste of all the varieties. It has dark blue-green, bumpy-looking leaves.

When choosing kale, pick bunches that looks crisp and vibrant in color. Kale should be stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook it. If it starts to look a bit drab and wilted, don’t worry. As with most greens, kale will perk back up if it is shocked with cold water. Wash this veggie in cool water before cooking to remove any dirt.

Kale is grown year-round, but is found more abundantly late spring through fall. This veggie makes a great addition to soup or as a side dish by itself. It can even be mixed in with a favorite protein to make an easy, one-dish meal. It can be found locally at the Headhouse Square or Rittenhouse Square farmers markets, and of course, at my store, Healthy Bites.

I love kale and eat it regularly. Here is one of my favorite kale recipes.

Crostini With Kale Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes
Serves 7

• 1/2 to 3/4 bunch curly green kale, thick stems removed (makes 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked and drained)
• 1/3 cup pine nuts
• 2 garlic cloves
• 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
• 1/4 cup chives
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoon water
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 lemon, juiced and zested
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 4 sliced heirloom tomatoes
• 1 loaf crusty whole-grain baguette
• Cooking spray

Preheat your grill. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the kale and cook for 30 seconds (the kale should be bright green and crisp but tender). Rinse immediately under cold water. Squeeze dry.

In a food processor, pulse the pine nuts, garlic, parsley, kale, chives, cheese, and lemon juice. Add the olive oil and process to smooth. Season with salt and pepper (this recipe is calculated with 1/4 teaspoon of salt). Slice bread on an angle and mist with cooking spray. Grill for 1-2 minutes per side, until crispy. Spread each slice of grilled bread with 1/2 tablespoon of the pesto and top with a tomato slice.

Note: You will have leftover pesto. You can keep this chilled in your refrigerator for a couple days. It can be used with any recipe that calls for pesto.

208 calories, 7.7 g. fat, 1.35 g. sat. fat, 26 g. carbs, 2.41 g. fiber, 6 g. protein, 1.1 mg. cholesterol, 390 mg. sodium

Katie Cavuto-Boyle, MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian, chef, and owner of Healthy Bites ToGo Market. Read Katie’s full bio and more about her role at Be Well Philly here.