- Veggie Index
- Greens, Chard
- Greens, Collard
- Greens, Kale
- Greens, Mustard
- Onions, Bulbing
- Onion, Bunching
- Peppers, sweet
- Peppers, hot
- Squash, summer
- Squash, winter
- Brussels Sprouts
Scientific Name and Common Name
Kale or borecole is a form of cabbage (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group), green or purple, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. The species Brassica oleracea contains a wide array of vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. The Cultivar Group Acephala also includes spring greens and collard greens, which are extremely similar genetically.
The name borecole most likely originates from the Dutch boerenkool (farmers cabbage).
Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. Curly leafed varieties of cabbage already existed along with flat leafed varieties in Greece in the fourth century BC. These forms, which were referred to by the Romans as Sabellian kale, are considered to be the ancestors of modern kales. Today one may differentiate between varieties according to the low, intermediate, or high length of the stem, with varying leaf types. The leaf colours range from light green through green, dark green and violet-green to violet-brown. Russian kale was introduced into Canada (and then into the U.S.) by Russian traders in the 19th century.
The most important growing areas lie in central and northern Europe and North America. Kale grows more rarely in tropical areas as it prefers cooler climates, and here they often come in exotic colours. Kale is the most robust cabbage type – indeed the hardiness of kale is unmatched by any other vegetable. Kale will also tolerate nearly all soils provided that drainage is satisfactory. Another advantage is that kale rarely suffers from pests and diseases of other members of the cabbage family – pigeons, club root, and cabbage root fly (Delia radicum). Places where kale grows are called kalefields.
Nutritional Information and Recipe
|Nutrient||Amount||% US RDA|
|Energy||117 kJ (28 kcal)||N/A|
|Dietary fiber||2.0 g||15-20%|
|Thiamin (Vit. B1)||0,053 mcg|
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2)||0.070 mg|
|Niacin (Vit. B3)||0.500mg||(%)|
|Folate (Vit. B9)||13 mcg||(%)|
|Vitamin A||13621 IU||(%)|
|Vitamin E||0.85 mg||(%)|
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Recipes and Uses
Kale is considered to be a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties; kale is considered to be anti-inflammatory.
Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. Because of its high vitamin K content, patients taking anti-coagulants such as warfarin are encouraged to avoid this food since it increases the vitamin K concentration in the blood, which is what the drugs are often attempting to lower. Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties.
Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost. Tender kale greens can provide an intense addition to salads, particularly when combined with other such strongly-flavored ingredients as dry-roasted peanuts, tamari-roasted almonds, red pepper flakes, or an Asian-style dressing.
In Ireland, kale is mixed with mashed potatoes to make the traditional dish colcannon. It is popular on Halloween when it is sometimes served with sausages. Small coins are sometimes hidden inside as prizes.
A traditional Portuguese soup, caldo verde, combines pureed potatoes, diced kale, olive oil, broth, and, generally, sliced cooked spicy sausage. Under the name of couve, kale is also popular in Brazil, in caldo verde, or as a vegetable dish, often cooked with carne seca (shredded dried beef). When chopped and stir-fried, couve accompanies Brazil’s national dish, feijoada.
In East Africa, it is an essential ingredient in making a stew for ugali, which is almost always eaten with kale. Kale is also eaten throughout southeastern Africa, where it is typically boiled with coconut milk and ground peanuts and is served with rice or boiled cornmeal.
A whole culture around kale has developed in north-western Germany around the towns of Bremen, Oldenburg and Hannover as well as in the State of Schleswig-Holstein. There, most social clubs of any kind will have a Grünkohlfahrt (“kale tour”) sometime between October and February, visiting a country inn to consume large quantities of boiled kale, Kassler, Mettwurst and schnapps. These tours are often combined with a game of Boßeln. Most communities in the area have a yearly kale festival which includes naming a “kale king” (or queen).
Curly kale is used in Denmark and Holland, Sweden, to make (grøn-)langkål, an obligatory dish on the julbord in the region, and is commonly served together with the Christmas ham (Sweden, Holland). 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. 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.
In Montenegro, collards, locally konwn as rashtan, is a favorite vegetable. It is particularly popular in winter, cooked with smoked mutton (kastradina) and potatoes.
Cooking Tips and Recipes from our site
- 2 T olive oil
- salt and other preferred seasonings
Preheat an oven to 300° F . Line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Tear the leaf away from the thick stems and cut or tear into bite size pieces. Discard or eat raw the mid-stalks (stems). Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. This recipe works best with kale pieces pretty dry.
Place in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with a Tblsp or two of olive oil and throw in your favorite seasonings and sea salt. Hand mix massaging the oil in to all the wrinkles.
Place on your parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer.
Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake another 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven but let it sit for a couple minutes (this crisps the kale nicely!) . A light spritz of vinegar or liquid seasoning is best now, when they have finished baking. Enjoy!
Pad Kee Mow (served over Kale)
Submitted by Kristy Alpert
- 3-4 tbs. vegetable oil or coconut oil
- 1.5 tbs. garlic
- 1 handful of fresh basil
- 2 chicken breasts (or whatever protein you prefer)
- 1 egg
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 tbs. paprika
- 1.5 tbs Sriracha sauce (chili-garlic sauce)
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 2-3 tbs. soy sauce
- 2-3 tbs. Sugar
- 3-4 leaves of kale
In a large wok, begin by sautéing the basil and garlic in the vegetable oil. Scramble the egg in the oil. Add the chicken (or whatever protein you prefer), cover, and cook all the way through on a low heat. Shred chicken into medium-sized bites and return to wok. Add soy sauce, Sriracha sauce, quartered red bell pepper, sliced tomatoes, and sugar. Season with as much paprika and chili powder as you like. Serve over a bed of kale and powder with paprika once again for looks. Garnish with fresh basil if you want.