Kale is a superfood and one that everyone seems to be raving about. We’ve got two varieties growing in the garden at the moment – cavolo nero and curly kale. I’ve been using the cavolo nero in cooking, where it’s at its best.
It’s a delicious addition in an Italian soup, such as a ribollita, which combines the kale with the delicious flavours of hearty white beans, vegetables, garlic and plenty of tomatoes.
Curly kale can also be cooked, but certainly doesn’t need it. Its leaves are delicious in any salad – simply swap out your regular lettuce leaves for kale, or mix them together for a combination of flavours. The kale really bolsters a salad up to be something more substantial than you’d get from a typical iceberg salad. It’s gorgeous in a Caesar salad.
It’s also fairly easy to make kale chips – just add a little bit of olive oil and flaky salt, and cook on a low heat in the oven. But my favourite way to enjoy kale is in a chilled soup.
Chilled cucumber and curly kale soup
This is a most refreshing cold soup. It’s an easy, quick dish that can last in the fridge for a couple of days. Great for that last-minute lunch and to give you that superfood boost. You can substitute the curly kale with another quarter of a bunch of coriander if you like.
- 3 cucumbers, peeled and deseeded
- 1 spring onion, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 3 curly kale leaves
- ¼ bunch of coriander
- 2 pinches of cumin
- 1½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup Greek yoghurt
- 10 drops jalapeño Tabasco
- ½ cup hot water
- 1 tbsp concentrated vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt, for garnish
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Roughly chop the cucumber, spring onion and garlic and place in a blender with the curly kale, coriander, cumin, salt, yoghurt and jalapeño Tabasco.
- Mix the hot water and stock concentrate together and add to the blender. Blend for four minutes or until smooth. Pour into a jug and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Divide the soup between bowls and garnish the top of the soup with a teaspoon of Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
“Kale can be grown all year round in most climates, despite largely being thought of as a crop for cooler temperatures. The winter months do have added benefits – a few good frosts will enhance the flavour of younger leaves and there is less chance of losing plants to hungry caterpillars.
“In warmer months, the cabbage white butterfly is quick to find kale, laying many eggs. The caterpillars will desiccate the plants in no time if they are not monitored and dealt with regularly.
“If you see holes or notches appearing in your leaves and find caterpillars (look carefully, they are green and very tiny to begin with), you could pick them off (or even better, pick the tiny white eggs off). Or on a larger scale, spray every week or two with a spray that contains Bacillus thurengiensis, a bacteria that exclusively attacks the gut of caterpillars. B.thurengiensis has successfully kept caterpillar numbers down on our curly kale/borecole, but the cavolo nero has been annihilated. I won’t be planting any more of that until winter, when the caterpillars won’t be a problem.
“Kale can be infected by clubroot, but crop rotation (not growing a crop in the same place twice) should avoid this.
“To keep a continuous supply of kale going, get your next crop established before your mature crop goes to seed in early spring. A weekly liquid feed will give them a good start. To harvest, simply pick the older leaves off as it grows.”