By Louise Oliver
After a festive period filled with family, friends and food in almost perfect measurements, it was time to reflect and focus on the obligatory resolutions list for the new year. The usual vague suspects of healthier, wealthier and wiser were foremost in my mind… Luckily fate, also known as the weather, intervened. Flooding meant that my last vegetable box before 2013 could not be delivered. There was no time to think about resolutions at a time like this – I had New Year guests to feed. My colourful veg box had been happily scoffed over Christmas, all that remained were some potatoes and onions with the fridge containing just a couple of bags of curly kale. Looking out to my wee veg patch I spied the dark leafy green yet again. I have enjoyed kale alongside other veggies in a soup or stir fry but could it really have the starring role in my New Year feast? Would making friends with this veg really allow me to keep my friends and any new year resolutions?
Kale is crammed full of goodness. Not only does it contain vitamins K, C, A and B6; minerals calcium, iron, manganese, it’s also a good source of fibre. With all variations of kale boasting these nutrients, which some experts believe to be anti-ageing, was this powerful vegetable expensive?
Far from it. As my little vegetable patch showed, kale truly is a hardy and reliable vegetable. As with most cabbages, caterpillars do enjoy a nibble, so some netting over summer can be helpful. Other than that I have to admit I have possibly neglected my kale patch, however there was plenty. It survives well in the cold and damp of the winter months and tastes even sweeter after a frost .
Unlike my other winter veg, kale required little in the way of preparation. The curly kale that I had in the fridge was a bit older and may have been a bit bitter so I removed the hardy stalks to the compost heap. This would also save any embarrassing moments of bits getting stuck in teeth. I could then easily blitz the kale in a blender or wilt it for 5 minutes in a curry. The black kale, also known as Cavolo Nero, fresh from the garden required nothing more than a quick steaming. Both the curry and the pesto could be made ahead of time and stored happily in the fridge for a couple of days. It appeared I was rich in time too!
With all these benefits I was worried that there would be a compromise in the taste. I was wrong; this king of cabbage was enjoyed by all tasters, even those kale doubters such as myself. Kale has a slightly sweet and refreshing taste which was much needed on the first meal of the year. Served with a Poached Egg and either a kick of chilli, a squeeze of lemon or a dash of mustard and, hey presto! you have a delicious and filling breakfast to set you up for the day. Kale also works particularly well with pork flavours; try adding a few rashers of Puddledub bacon . The additions of garlic, lemon, nuts and cheese made for a Tasty Kale Pesto and a great way to help little ones enjoy this nutritious food. Luckily for me a great pairing was found with potatoes, the gnocchi allowed the zingy kale pesto to shine whilst the Kale and Potato Curry was a satisfying supper that was enjoyed by all.
So with time to reflect, friendships and resolutions intact, I had realised the beauty of kale. It allowed a fantastic start to the new year for myself and loved ones with very little effort required. And with Kale’s motivational and enriching powers around for the rest of winter – the Romans referred to February as Kalemonath – and Scotland used to be referred to as Kale Land – there is no excuse for the usual resolution slip up.