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How to cook

Red Russian Kale is very easy to prepare and cook. 

When choosing Red Russian Kale look for fresh, bright, firm leaves.  As with all vegetables, wash the leaves well before cooking, trim the stalks; then use them as you would spinach or cabbage.

Young, tender leaves can be used raw in salads too.  These are commonly known as baby leaf and Red Russian Kale is popular in ‘baby leaf’ mixtures in the US, increasingly so in the UK.

Chris Molyneux suggests: “Try sautéing the washed and trimmed leaves in a little butter and garlic for a quick and tasty side dish.  Or, if you are more health conscious, use olive oil instead.  To make a more substantial dish, try adding bits of bacon, onion or spicy sausage.”  

It can also be added to other main dishes, such as Spaghetti Carbonara.  Simply finely chop and add to the final pasta sauce, stir well and serve.

Recipes

Indian spiced greens(serves 4)
Another interesting recipe I have tracked down from the BBC Good Food website.  A wonderful mixture of flavours to add a bit of spice to green kale!

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds

4 green chillies finely chopped

Large piece of fresh root ginger, freshly grated

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

500g shredded kale

100g peas

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander

Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons of unsweetened dessicated coconut

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan or wok, sizzle the cumin and mustard seeds for 1 minute, then add the chilli, ginger and turmeric.  Fry until aromatic, then add the kale, a pinch of salt, a splash of water and the peas.

2. Cover the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes until the kale has wilted.  Add the lemon juice, ground coriander, half the fresh coriander, and half the dessicated coconut, then toss everything together. Pile into a serving dish and scatter with the rest of the coconut and coriander.

A simple recipe for red kale
Red kale is a tasty and colourful alternative to green kale.  To keep the colour it's important to cook it simply. I have prepared it using the following ingredients and method.  As it's my own recipe, amounts depend on how much you want to make and your own taste preferences.

Ingredients

Red kale, finely chopped

Butter

Garlic, crushed

Soy sauce

Method

1. Wash and finely chop the red kale.

2. Melt some butter in a pan, add the chopped red kale and then some chopped garlic.  Cook until tender.

3. Finish with a dash of soy sauce.

Great served alongside red meats or sausages.

Kale and chorizo broth(serves 6)
This recipe reflects the traditional Portuguese recipes of kale with spicy sausage but with a Spanish twist. It's another great recipe from BBC Good Food.  I will refer to this source quite a bit as their recipes are good and tasty. According to my sister who has a 3 year old and an 11 month old with very little time to spend on fancy recipes, they are also simple and easy to prepare!

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2-3 cooking chorizo sausages, sliced

4 large potatoes

1.5 litres chicken stock

200g curly kale, finely shredded

Method

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onions, garlic and chorizo, then cook for 5 mins until soft. Throw in the potatoes and cook for a few minutes more. Pour in the stock, season and bring to the boil. Cook everything for 10 minutes until the potatoes are on the point of collapse.

2. Use a masher to squash the potatoes into the soup, then bring back to the boil. Add the kale and cook for 5 minutes until tender. Ladle the soup into bowls, then serve drizzled with the remaining olive oil.

Stir fried curly kale with chilli and garlic (serves 4)
This is a tasty and simple recipe that I spotted on the BBC Good Food website www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes  Great served as a vegetable side dish with steak or chicken.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

200g bag of curly kale

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large wok, then add the kale and a couple of tablespoons of water.  Season, then stir fry for 5-8 minutes, adding the garlic and chilli for the final 2 minutes.  When the kale is tender and a vibrant green, remove from the heat and serve.

Kale pesto (serves 4)
A recipe that my sister has tried out and recommends is Kale Pesto which is served with pasta.  She found that her 3 year old loved it!

Ingredients

100g kale, Red Russian (or Curly)

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

Handful of pine nuts

3 tablespoons of double cream

50g parmesan, grated

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (my sister used olive oil because she prefers the taste)

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (optional)

Pinch of salt

Method

1. Heat the oil in a pan and gently saute the garlic for a couple of minutes

2. Wash the kale well and chop.  Add to the garlic pan.  Cover and cook for 2 minutes until the kale starts to wilt.

3. Put the pine nuts in a food processor/blender and whizz up until smooth.  Add the double cream and nutmeg(if using).  Whizz up again.

4. Add the kale and garlic.  Process up until smooth.  Season with the salt and grated parmesan.  Mix well.

5. Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions.  Drain well.

6. Add the kale pesto to the pasta.  Mix well.

7. Serve warm.

Hint.  My sister found that the amounts made quite a lot of pesto for the pasta so if you like a milder pesto flavour just put less in your pasta.


How kale is used in Europe

In Portugal, caldo verde, a traditional soup, combines pureed potatoes, diced kale, olive oil, broth and sliced cooked spicy sausage.  Referred to as Couve, kale is also popular in the former Portuguese colony of Brazil, in caldo verde or as a vegetable dish, often cooked with carne seca (shredded dried beef). 


In north-western Germany a culture around kale has developed around the towns of Bremen and Oldenburg.  Here most social clubs of any kind will have a "Grünkohlfahrt" ("kale tour") during January.  This involves visiting a country inn to consume large quantities of kale, sausage and schnapps. Most communities in the area also have a yearly kale festival which includes naming a "kale king". 

Curly kale is used in Denmark and Halland, Sweden, to make (grøn-)långkål, an obligatory dish on the julbord in the region, and is commonly served together with the Christmas ham.  The kale is used to make a stew of minced boiled kale, stock, cream, pepper and salt that is simmered together slowly for a few hours. 

The traditional Irish dish Colcannon is made from kale and potatoes.

In Scotland, kale provided such a base for a traditional diet that the word in dialect Scots is synonymous with food. To be "off one's kail" is to feel too ill to eat.