Eat the season: Kale

Kale is a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, related to both broccoli and cabbage. Kale is normally a deep green hue but can also be found tinged with blue or purple or variegated white. It’s hardy – able to stand extremes of weather. Cold weather, in fact, brings on the colour in the crop.

Official tasting notes

By New Covent Market, the UK’s leading wholesale fruit and vegetable market www.newcoventgardenmarket.com

Usage: Kale is most commonly boiled and only needs a couple of minutes in hot water, either cooking whole or chopping/shredding the leaves beforehand. It is also widely used in salads and roasting it with seasonings from chilli and garlic to cheese is becoming popular.

Properties: Kale has gained recognition in recent years due to its nutritional qualities – something which makes it a very popular addition to green juices. In terms of taste, it has a strong, distinctive bitter flavour which pairs well with other punchy ingredients such as crispy bacon or cumin and creamy things including butter beans and cheeses.

Notes: These are the six varieties that are commonly available through the market: Green curly kale, Purple Queen, Variegated (white and purple), White Queen and Japanese White, Salad or baby kale and Kalettes or flower sprouts (Brussel cross). One common mistake is to buy ready-chopped kale. As soon as you chop up anything the flavours and nutrients start to degrade.

1. Salmon teriyaki, kale and barley salad Kale is a great addition to this Japanese inspired, flavour packed dish. www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/teriyaki-salmonkale-barley-salad-recipe.

2. Keep it sweet A key mistake is to discard the stalks – the sweetest part. All the sugar is in the stalk – cut it up fine and eat the whole thing. Try finely chopping the kale and adding the stalks first to a thin layer of water with a sprinkle of sea salt, then layering the leaves on top. Cook for exactly three minutes then refresh in cold water, drain and add a splash of soy sauce. Alternatively finely chop raw kale before dressing with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, balsamic and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

3. Feast on this This roasted chestnut and kale freeke with crispy onions, toasted nuts, chestnut and cinnamon lebneh is a flavoursome addition to your meze.

4. Smokey chipotle kale crisps Kale crisps are becoming increasingly popular to buy but they are very easy to make. They can be a delicious snack if you are looking to avoid traditional potato crisps and are a guilt-free accompaniment www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/smokeychipotle- kale-crisps-recipe.

5. Kale and Parmesan hummus For a change from the usual chickpea hummus, try this delicious, nutrientpacked alternative using Kale and Parmesan www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/kale-parmesan-hummus-recipe.

Recipes supplied by: 1. Urvashi Roe, 2. Chris Molyneux, Lancashire Kale grower, 3. Arabica Bar and Kitchen, 4. Deb Durrant, 5. Becca Pusey For more kale recipes visit www.greatbritishchefs.com.

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