Friday, December 16, 2011

Eat More Kale

Eat more kale. It’s been my words to live by for years, ever since I discovered that this delicious green was for eating, not for decorating salad bars at steakhouses. This enlightenment happened for me sometime in the 1980s. When I wrote Recipes from the Root Cellar I included 33 recipes for kale – wilted salads, stir-fries, sautés, braises. And, of course, crisp oven-baked kale chips.

Indeed, after returning from the Mother Earth News fair this fall where I did some cooking demos, I wrote about cooking—kale!

I usually phrase my personal mantra as “Can’t Cook Enough Kale” so as not to infringe on a Vermont artist who supports his family with a small business selling t-shirts and bumper stickers saying “Eat More Kale.” But when mega fast-food chain, Chik-fil-A threatened a lawsuit against Bo Muller-Moore for trademark infringement, I had to jump into the fray in defense of kale.

Chik-fil-A has a marketing slogan of “Eat Mor Chiken,” which appears as hand-written signs held by cows. The defense, of course, is who ever confused a leaf of kale with an extruded piece of chicken nugget? And how can you trademark a saying of “eat mor” and have it apply to eating more of everything?

Yesterday I brought Crispy Kale Chips and a Wilted Kale Salad, both recipes from
Recipes from the Root Cellar, to the Middlebury Natural Foods Coop and gave out samples. My display included a hand-written sign that read, “Eat More Kale.”

“Aren’t you afraid of being charged with trademark infringement?,” Someone asked.

“They’ll never take me alive,” I replied.

Enjoy More Kale. Plant More Kale. Grow More Kale. Eat More Kale.

Crispy Kale Chips (Serves 1 to 4)
Potato chips: be gone! Roasted kale is so delicious, you never need to turn to them again for a hit of crisp and salt. My son introduced me to this delicacy, but he learned to make it in a cast-iron frying pan over a hot wood fire outdoors. It took me a while to figure out this version, which is faster, more suited to the average lifestyle, and so good it will make kale lovers out of the most picky eaters. This is more appropriate as a snack or hors d’oeuvre than a side dish because of the high volume of the pieces.

1 bunch kale (I prefer curly kale), leaves chopped in 1-inch pieces and tough stems discarded

About 2 tablespoons canola or extra virgin olive oil

Coarse sea salt or kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Measure the kale and transfer to a large bowl. For every 4 cups of firmly packed leaves, add 1 tablespoon oil. Mix well with your hands to make sure the leaves are evenly coated. Spread out on a large sheet pan into a single layer. Use two sheet pans, if necessary.

3. Roast for about 10 minutes, until the curly tips of the leaves are darkened and the interior of the leaves are a bright green. If you are using two sheet pans, roast in batches, unless you can use the “convection bake” option. The leaves should be mostly crunchy and browned, but not blackened.

4. Toss with salt and serve.

Adapted from Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman. ©2010. All rights reserved.

Andrea Chesman is a food writer and author of many cookbooks, including Serving Up The Harvest, Recipes from the Root Cellar, Mom’s Best One-Dish Suppers, and Pickles and Relishes and is coauthor of Mom’s Best Desserts and The Classic Zucchini Cookbook from Storey Publishing. She has also written and edited numerous additional cooking, food, and garden publications.

Andrea Chesman lives in a historic farmhouse in Ripton, Vermont, where the poet Robert Frost boarded. She lives with her husband and two sons. When she is not at work on a writing project, she edits and indexes cookbooks for numerous publishers.

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