For the Love of Kale!

Baby Kale - Francis Guenette photo

Have you heard the news? Kale is a trending vegetable. Kale is out in the Twitter world with its very own hashtag. You know something has ‘arrived’ when that happens. Until quite recently, I was not sold on the wonder of kale.

Let me take a gardening digression, here. Many years ago, my father-in-law presented me with an envelope that had the words Russian Kale written on the sealed flap. He proceeded to tell me, “I brought these seeds home from the prairies on our last visit. It’s a particularly hardy variety of kale. It might grow well where you guys are.”

Kale gone to flower - Francis Guenette photoTruer words were never spoken. That year we planted a few of those kale seeds. Not understanding that this type of kale is best eaten when it is young and tender, we let it grow and we weren’t wild about the strong taste when we tried it. We didn’t bother with the rest of it and a few of the stalks got as thick as a small child’s wrist, overwintered and flowered the next spring and into the summer. Quite pretty, really – assuming, of course, one didn’t realize the inevitable outcome – four or so feet high, delicate green leaves with deep purple veins and yellow flowers. These huge plants, bearing innumerable seeds, eventually found their way into the compost.

Suffice to say, we never planted kale again. Every single year we get carpets of tiny kale plants coming up everywhere that we had spread compost and even some spots that I am sure we didn’t. What a pain! We patiently weeded these kale plants out, letting a few go to flower for the drama of it all. We were not kale eating fans.

This year all that changed. We discovered how wonderful the small kale is as a salad green. I tried out a recipe for quinoa/kale patties that we simply love. Kale, chopped fine and layered into lasagne – let me just say, you will not miss the spinach. Our newest garden strategy is to allow those baby kale seedlings to grow. As they get to be 3 to 4 inches high, we thin them out and use them. Eventually, the other plants take over.

Baby Kale - Francis Guenette photo 2

Here is my somewhat adapted recipe for the quinoa/kale patties. There is a bit of chopping involved, so I like to make a double batch and freeze the excess. You can tell from the photo that these are the frozen ones – we ate all the fresh ones before I could take a picture – darn! They were so good, though.

Kale-Quinoa Patties

Kale-Quinoa Patties - Francis Guenette photo

  • 2.5 cups of cooked quinoa – I use an organic red variety
  • 4 cups of kale, chopped small
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • ½ cup chopped chives – I’ve used fresh parsley or basil or a combination of all three
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup grated cheese – I used a really strong Romano last time and it was great.
  • ¾ cup finely ground bread crumbs

Form into patties – this is a cinch since cooked quinoa is really sticky. Fry on each side, in olive oil, for approx. 5 minutes. And there you have it – a delicious treat with two super popular foods rolled into one yummy package.

33 comments on “For the Love of Kale!

  1. Morgan says:

    Kale rocks…AND its pretty 🙂

  2. The Kale-Quinoa Patties sound delicious, Fran. I’m a huge fan of kale. I love making kale chips.

  3. Rose says:

    I’m so glad you learned the true joys of kale. And those patties look (and sound) amazing — may have to give it a go!

    • The first time I made them, I did a nice dill/white sauce to go on top – delicious. Since, I’ve served them as traditional hamburger patties with buns and all the fixings and the other day with a really nice cilantro homemade salsa. Yummy.

  4. ygm17 says:

    Love kale! we planted a veg garden this year but sadly no kale 😦 lots of swiss chard and spinach which just isn’t the same! I’m firing the gardener (aka hubby)

    • There is this variety of swiss chard called bright lights – have you ever tried it? We grew it all along a border once and it was lovely – brightly coloured reds, oranges, and yellows with deep green. Of for the love of greens 🙂

  5. Those sound good. Can’t remember how the subject came up but a while ago I reblogged a piece to my own blog about kale pesto. Have never had sufficient to try it but I think it would be well worth a whirl if you have an abundance of young plants.

  6. diannegray says:

    I’ll have to have a look around the garden to see if I have any (who knows what’s in the jungle out there!) 😀 If not, I’m going to get myself some seeds. Thanks so much for the tip and the recipe, Francis 😀

  7. The kale hashtag…love it! I should use that tonight since we’re having some in our pasta. We are huge fans of kale. I made a rookie mistake with kale some years ago with a smoothie. It’s much more pungent than spinach, so a little goes a long way and the fruit pairings can make or break the smoothie.

  8. jennypellett says:

    It’s interesting how vegetables can have their fashion moment. Our supermarkets sell it in big plastic bags where it takes on an unappetising greyish quality. Being able to pick it young and fresh like you do is definitely the way to go. I might steel myself to buy some of the grey stuff …

    • Ya, not so much a fan of the big plastic bag of greyish looking veggie. Fresh from the garden and small is the only way we’ve found kale to be tasty. Funny to think of a fashion moment for a vegetable.

  9. Gwen Stephens says:

    My mouth is watering reading that recipe…and it’s 7 in the morning. Funny that you’ve come full circle in your appreciation for this so-called superfood. It’s definitely trending. I wonder how many more vegetables have their own hashtags?

    • This full circle thing – life, right? Shift the perspective, the lens, the taste buds – see things in a different way and wham, now we love kale or folding laundry or grocery shopping or crime dramas etc. etc. Well – skip the grocery shopping. I’m never going to love that one.

      • Gwen Stephens says:

        I’m with you on the grocery shopping, Fran. Ugh. I order from a delivery service to avoid the grocery store. 😀

  10. I remain curious.

    Seeing that recipe, I wonder if there remains any taste identifying the Kale at the end of it. I get the feeling that the cheese and garlic and eggs would provide the flavour.

    Thanks for sharing though.

    Shakti

    • This is a really good point, Shakti. Not being a kale purist, I’m not overly concerned that other flavours would dominate. The result seemed to be that the kale provided more texture than actual flavour. The way to tap into more of the essence of kale, as a flavour, would be in a simple salad with a very light and complimentary dressing. As long as it’s young and fresh, hard to describe but still very nice.

  11. ianmooremorrans says:

    Your post has inspired me to try some baby kale from the market. I presently put spinach in everything possible, but will give kale a try. It probably has similar nutritional benefits. Several years ago when we moved to BC from our 2 1/2 year sojourn in Mexico, we bought a house that had been owned by a Dutch-immigrant couple. It was spring and the tulips and other bulbs were sprouting all over, as were the strawberries and KALE in the vegetable garden space. Alas, the kale was from the previous year, and just as you first described it – huge, tough and strong-tasting. I spent my first gardening efforts pulling it all up. I’m hoping we’ll find the young kale as delicious as you did. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • I’m guessing that after pulling all the second year giants out you didn’t make the mistake we did – dumping them all in your compost bin. Otherwise, you’d be seeing them everywhere in the garden to this day. Yes, if you like spinach, baby kale will be a hit. Someone told me once that on the taste scale you had kale as the strongest, then beet tops, and finally spinach. But then there will obviously be variations depending on the age of the plants. Starting to sound like the science of kale on this blog. LOL.

  12. What an interesting recipe, Francis. I’m becoming a huge kale fan, so I’ll definitely try it. Last year I planted 6 ornamental cabbage plants in my flower bed; this year I planted 5 purple and 5 white/pink ornamental kale plants in their place among the daisies and ground cover, so you can see that kale has become my go-to plant!

    • Wow, Marylin – I’ve got to check out ornamental plants. Though bringing another kale plant here is like coal to Newcastle. But who could resist white/pink ornamental kale?

  13. Francis we are big fans of quinoa but we have not tried Kale. This recipe sounds delicious I will have to give it a whirl. Love your garden, nothing better than fresh home grown veggies although I don’t have green thumbs. I am lucky my hubby does. The more fresh produce, veggies, meat and eggs off the farm the better at least you know how it has been nurtured and treated with no chemicals etc. Thanks for the recipe.

  14. Yum. And nice that’s it’s organic and free!

  15. P. C. Zick says:

    My daughter is a proponent of kale, but it’s not something my hubby has grown. Now that I’ve read your post, I’ll have to push him for kale next year!

  16. Great post! I just love Kale, it is growing like weeds in our garden, coming up everywhere and provided us with greens all winter long.

    • We definitely have the coming up everywhere thing happening! We love the tiny new leaves for salad and I’m experimenting with different recipes for Kale Crackers to deal with some of the bigger growth. Kale – it’s a green revolution 🙂

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