Kale is a member of the brassica family, otherwise known as the cabbage family. It can tolerate wet Welsh winters pretty well. At Global Gardens, we particularly love Purple kale, Cavalo nero and Green curly kale. Check out Real Seeds for a great range of kale seeds.
Kale likes rich soil in full or partial sunlight. We tend to add some compost before planting. Kale also needs moist soil for optimum growth, so make sure you keep your kale well-watered during dry periods. Birds do seem to also love kale and so we grow our seedlings under mesh to give them a peck free start. Sow kale seeds from March through to June - we sow in modules and then plant out when they are around 4-5 inches tall.
Cooking with Kale
Kale has dark green leaves, sometimes with hints of purple. Just like with other vegetables, the deep colours of kale leaves indicate high nutrient content which means it may have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects to your body. It is rich in vitamins K, A and C, fibre, manganese, iron and calcium. If you want to preserve the nutrients steaming or stir - frying are the healthiest ways, as opposed to boiling.
It is a great crop as it is abundant and flavourful during winter months when there’s little else growing. It can be used in dishes to replace spinach or chard. It’s great blanched - a process that requires boiling or steaming kale for a short amount of time and then dipping in ice cold water- and then sautéed with a bit of garlic and works great as a side dish.
Give kale a good wash to remove any dirt. If leaves are young and tender, you don’t need to remove the stems. If leaves are big and mature, tear them away from the stalk, then shred them.
Kale can be eaten raw, which requires ‘massaging’ - rubbing shredded kale leaves with lemon juice or juice so that it absorbs the flavours and the leaves soften a little bit. You can raw massaged kale to salads or roast it in the oven to make the famous kale crisps. You can also add raw kale to smoothies or pestos. That works well with fresher and younger kale leaves.
Fermented Kale by Shauna
800g Kale (finely sliced/chopped)
200g Cabbage (finely sliced - if working with a small amount of kale)
20g Salt (non iodised sea salt)
Thoroughly clean a large bowl and clip top jar.
In the large bowl bring together all the ingredients and weigh.
Take 2% of your veg weight in salt (i.e 1kg combined veg/ingredients = 20g salt) and mix through with thoroughly clean hands.
Continue to combine, squeezing a little, letting it rest and continuing- the kale/cabbage should release liquid and we want as much as possible.
Once your mixture has reduced nicely and has a good amount of brine, transfer it to the jar, little by little, pressing down firmly with each handful.
Ideally you want a 2 finger width space at the top of the jar, and the veg to be totally covered with the brine. Use a glass weight/clean small glass jar/ cabbage leaves to press it down.
Close and leave to sit on the counter top for a few days. It will start to ferment and release it's own gasses, although from time to time you can gently and slowly open the jar to release the gas, then close again.
Lacto-fermenting needs an anaerobic environment, so wants to be closed and not exposed to air as much as possible - while being submerged in that magical brine, to ensure no spoilage.
Once fermented (5 days to taste, leave longer to allow for further fermenting - around 21 days for a full cycle, but it's also about taste preference).
Play around with flavour combinations, they are endless! -Served here on Sourdough topped with British fava bean hummus, zaatar sprinkle & pickled turnip.
Follow Shauna (@petit_bwyta) chef at Wild Thing, a plant-based cafe with social goals. During the pandemic, Wild Thing set up an emergency food provision service for local residents and organisations, to ensure they had access to free, nutritious food every week.
Cooking and working together on this project as well as previous community events such as a free community supper, has been so inspiring and energising. Fighting food poverty & educating about nutritious food on a low budget is a strong goal of Wild thing and something that has always interested me.
Cooking was one of my first creative outlets as a kid and food in general has always got me excited. I really think that sharing food is one of the most special ways to connect and enjoy each other's company. Cooking and being in a kitchen environment brings me calm and focus and feeding people just brings me so much joy.
Here is another kale-based recipe by one of the other chefs at Wild Thing, Steph...
Palestinian Hindbeh (Kale version) by Steph
This Palestinian dish is traditionally made using dandelion leaves, but can easily be swapped with Kale and any hardy greens you have available. It goes very well with some harissa roasted potatoes or fluffy mash.
When served with a mash, it often reminds me of a Palestinian and spicer take of the Irish dish colcannon (another excellent use of Kale).
Other versions of this recipe call for the dish to be topped with pomegranate, but borage and nasturtiums are a good seasonal alternative if you have them and brighten up the dish.
Kale (400g for a larger portion )
1 table spoon of sumac
1 table spoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon of salt
120ml of olive oil
Edible flowers (pomegranate is also a nice addition if available)
1. Wash and prep kale, then massage with juice of half a lemon
2. Thinly slice the onions into crescents
3. Heat a heavy bottomed pan with 50ml of olive oil, add all the onions
4. Very gently fry the onions, add sugar to gently caramelise for 10 - 15mins , once caramelizing has begun add the sumac and paprika . Leave to cool whilst attending to the kale.
5. Boil some water in a big pan and quickly drop the kale in for around 3-4 mins ensuring that the kale doesn't over cook and keeps it colour. Drain the kale and run through cold water.
6. Dress the kale with salt, the remainder of the lemon juice and olive oil. Top with the caramlized onions and finish with the edible flowers.
Adapted from Joudie Kalle recipe.