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Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Year, New You - Healthy Ingredient #3: Kale!

How I used to think of green vegetables!
I have to be honest...

If you had told me a few weeks ago it was possible for me to like kale, I would have laughed at you. Chortled might actually be a more accurate word, because due to a serious aversion to green foods that dates back to childhood, I have never gone near the stuff. In the spirit of exploring more healthy ingredients however, I was feeling up to the challenge. I also recently came across a basic recipe for Kale Chips that sounded easy to make and potentially tasty so I decided to give it a try. I mean, this time of year, who isn't looking for an easily accessible, healthy snack to stave off those dastardly post-holiday cravings?
Curly Kale
Why kale you might ask? This member of the cabbage family (Brassica oleracea) has been getting some attention lately in culinary circles and for good reason. In addition to having a very distinct flavor, kale is chock full of nutrients including beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein and calcium. Like broccoli, it also contains the chemical sulforaphane which has very potent anti-cancer properties. In order to preserve these desirable nutrients, it's best to prepare kale by steaming, stir-frying or baking; boiling can cause a decrease in the concentration of these chemicals.

Kale has a variety of culinary applications in many countries around the world. In Ireland, it is mixed with potatoes to make the traditional dish colcannon. Kale is also popular in China, Taiwan and Vietnam where it is often combined with beef in a stir-fry and in Portugal, it is often combined with pureed potatoes, broth and spicy sausage to make the traditional soup, caldo verde. Other countries that also have a traditional dish that utilizes kale are the Netherlands, Brazil, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Africa. This green which dates back to the 4th century BC, has certainly made an international impression!
I hope you enjoy this quick, easy and delicious recipe for kale chips. Feel free to experiment with different toppings and flavor combinations to suit your taste. If you have leftovers, the chips can easily be stored for a few days in a Ziploc baggie or airtight container. Following my previous recommendations of quinoa and lentils, this post concludes the series of three healthy ingredient suggestions for the New Year here on the Glamorous Gourmet. I hope you've enjoyed learning about these healthy options!

Coming up next are my interviews with two esteemed figures in the wine world, Christie's Head of Wine for the Americas, Robin Kelley O'Connor and Executive Editor of Wine Spectator magazine, Thomas Matthews. They were kind enough to sit down with me during a recent trip to New York and share details about their respective journeys and successes in the wine industry. Please stay tuned for their interesting stories, I look forward to sharing them with you.  


Baked Tuscan Kale Chips 
2 heads of kale leaves, stems removed
Olive Oil
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Tear kale leaves into "chip"-size pieces and place on baking sheet. Drizzle the leaves with olive oil and season with Kosher salt and pepper to taste. Toss kale with seasonings and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake kale chips for 15 minutes and remove from oven. Sprinkle chips with grated Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes to taste and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted and chips are sufficiently crispy.

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