Growing and Cooking Kale

Easy to grow and a delicious ingredient in almost any recipe, kale is the leafy green we can't get enough of

Credit: Flickr / Suzies Farm

Different types of kale: red russian, lacinato, redbor and green scotch

Kale, the ultimate veggie, should be number one on your plant hot list

Someone recently hinted to me that one can talk too much about kale. But I ask you – can one really talk too much about kale?

Recently I worked on The Book of Kale: The Easy-to-Grow Superfood (including 80 recipes) with garden-to-kitchen marvel Sharon Hanna, longtime columnist for GardenWise and BC Home & Garden. I love teaming with Sharon on any and all projects, but here’s the clincher:  I can’t think of any more important vegetable to enthuse about than kale.

Let me step up onto my soapbox for a moment.

Growing Kale

This has to be the easiest vegetable ever to grow. It thrives right through the winter; in fact, the flavour sweetens in cold weather. You can snip from it all year long. It thrives on neglect: if you forget about it, it will simply self-seed and give you more kale.

Meanwhile, the pretty yellow flowers will sustain bees. And it will make a mountain of seeds for you to share with friends. It’s incredibly nutritious and frequently labelled a miracle food by health experts. If you know a few culinary tricks, you can even get finicky kids to eat it (everyday).

You can plant it in early spring, then later in spring, and right through July for fall and winter crops. It’s surprisingly pest and disease resistant. There are dozens of different types with distinct looks, many with stunning foliage that looks great in the garden.

And it’s so easy to grow that you will feel like an amazing gardener (and so will your kids if you involve them too, and if you do, plant cool “dinosaur” kale).

Cooking with Kale

Think about it: If every person, urban or rural, planted just one kale plant, what a difference we could make. One mature kale plant can provide nutrition-loaded greens every day in a variety of tasty and fun ways. Here are just a few ways you can enjoy kale: 

Mains – Risotto, pizzoccheri, pizza, kalekopita (spanakopita but with kale), lasagna

Soups – borscht, chowder, miso, leek

Sides – Torta, hummus, chips (regular, parmesan and all-dressed) kale salad, pesto

Okay, I’m stepping off my soapbox.

Well, almost.

But first, at the risk of truly talking too much about kale, just one more gasp on this incredible edible.

Consider hacking out a few squares of lawn, or covering it with a lasagna garden, or adding a few pots to the patio, or hammering up a window box . . . and planting kale. You will give your health a super-boost and cut down on those annoying and gas-greedy trips to the market – and this miracle plant is simply one seed away.  

Think of the difference we could all make by just planting kale.

Okay, I’m stopping now. Really.