You thought kale was a leafy, late-autumn green beloved by veg-heads. But it is so much more.
Closely related to brussels sprouts and broccoli, kale is considered by some foodies to be the most nutritious vegetable in the world, thanks to its 684 percent RDA of vitamin K and its similarly high vitamin A and C (antioxidants) content. It grows practically anywhere—even in Colorado’s fickle climate—and from spring to early winter, so it’s a sure bet almost year-round. In fact, it sometimes tastes sweeter when harvested immediately after a frost. As delicious raw as it is steamed, charred, baked, sautéed, stewed or braised, it’s also extremely versatile. Try it at breakfast, lunch, dinner and
Sometimes referred to as dino kale because it resembles bumpy reptile skin, it’s also known as cavolo nero (black cabbage) or Tuscan kale. It has a bluish-green color, and it maintains its firm texture even after being cooked. Traditional Italian minestrone features lacinato.
Flavor: sweet and earth
So called for its crumpled edges, curly kale is the most popular and easiest variety to find at market. Pick bunches that are bright green with stiff, sturdy edges. As with all types of kale, store the leaves unwashed in the refrigerator for three days. Prerinsing can make them limp.
Flavor: slightly peppery, robust
Look for bags of baby kale and baby greens that include kale in your produce department. Perfect for quick salads and basic side dishes—sautée bunches of baby kale with olive oil, onions and garlic—it is a great way for newbies to dip their toes into the kale waters, so to speak.
Flavor: mild, similar to arugula
Also known as Russian kale, it is less common than curly kale but equally versatile and nutritious. The leaves are flatter, the edges are fringed, and the veins are deep red—almost purple.
Flavor: According to chef Jennifer Iserloh, its sweet flavor with a hint of spice makes it ideal for Asian dishes that include soy, sesame and ginger.