Kale is a green leafy vegetable that has become overwhelmingly popular. The vegetable has even inspired a movement of foodie followers. Type “kale” into any search engine to see what I mean: hundreds of blogs and websites are devoted to the veggie. However, the most consumed vegetable in the United States is actually the potato, eaten in the form of French fries. Kale, on the other hand, comes from the Brassica family. The species Brassica oleracea contains a wide variety of vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. This group of vegetables are not typically American favorites. Then what is so special about the green leafy kale that has made this particular brassica so famous?
I like to think that kale has become so popular because consumers are becoming more health-conscious. Due to it’s incredible nutrient density, kale is what some people call a “superfood.” Kale has beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and is rich in calcium. Kale also contains sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol which research has shown to have cancer-fighting properties (1,2).
Like other greens, kale can have a bit of a bitter taste, so preparing it properly is important to get the best flavor. Kale can be enjoyed many ways- braised, sauteed, added to soups or smoothies, and even in the form of crunchy vegetable “chips”. One of the easiest ways that I like to enjoy kale is by making a simple massaged kale salad, which is only 4 ingredients!
To make the massaged salad, take 1 bunch of kale (chiffonade, with stalks removed) and add ¼ teaspoon of fine table salt and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Massage the kale with the lemon juice for approximately 5 minutes, or until the leaves feel tender. The salt and acid of the lemon juice help to break down the cell walls of the kale, shrinking the leaves and creating a sweeter flavor. After 5 minutes of massaging, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and give the kale another quick massage. This salad can be enjoyed alone or with toppings like dried cranberries, feta cheese or pumpkin seeds. Try it today and see for yourself why you should love kale!