Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog, or web site.
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These days we see superheroes everywhere. From the big screen action figures like Green Lantern, Thor and Harry Potter to the billionaires like Gates, Buffet and Zuckerberg pledging to give away their personal bounty to worthy and noble causes. While taking the global view is fine for an evening’s entertainment or the news when you want to be a superhero in your own home you need to start serving what I like to call “super foods”.
In my perfect world, chocolate would be front and center as the number one super food. Alas, while dark chocolate is really good for you, a better choice for the top spot would be kale. Ok, stop laughing and scratching you head and let me explain exactly why, even if you have no idea what kale is, you should start utilizing kale in your diet ASAP.
Kale (AKA borecole) is veggie that belongs to the Brassica family (which includes Brussel sprouts, broccoli and collards is related to cabbage (a second cousin once removed) and is currently being touted as one of the primer healthy vegetables on the planet. A leafy green plant, kale is available in curly, ornamental, or dino varieties and comes in a variety of colors from deep green to purple to deep red.
In addition to being “burdened” with an abundance of calcium, vitamins A, C, K, E, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus kale is a fiber rich food as well as a low-glycemic food which is great to add to your diet when trying to lose weight. Kale and collards are very similar and they both are like cabbages in that they can because, for lack of a better phrase, be flatulence producing, so be warned.
I always say it’s best to eat your veggies, fresh and raw so utilizing kale in salads is always a good choice. However, I will concede that kale has a very distinctive, slightly bitter taste in its raw state so most people prefer the taste of kale when it’s been cooked slightly. While you do lose some of the nutrients and benefits it’s not enough to forsake the gains. You should look for firm, deeply colored leaves with firm stems. Smaller leaves tend to be milder in flavor and taste. To store your kale keep it unwashed, in an air-tight container. It should last for up to a week in the refrigerator.
If you want to keep the cooking simple I suggest you do I like do and just lightly saute the kale with garlic and olive oil and add pine nuts and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. You can also steam your kale for to five minutes and use it as substitute it for spinach.
Or, if you’re feeling just a tab bit adventurous yet want to keep your recipes user friend, tasty and “healthy” I suggest the following recipes. Trust me; your family will never guess they’re actually eating something that’s good for them.
Bean and Kale Soup (meat or pareve)
- 1 bunch kale, trimmed
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves or dried
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 cup cooked small white beans or drained and rinsed canned beans
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup small shell macaroni
- Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional if using vegetable broth)
- In a medium saucepan, simmer the kale with ½ cup water and the salt until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Drain the kale, reserving any liquid that remains. Coarsely chop the kale.
- In the saucepan, stir together the oil, onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until the garlic and onion are light gold in color, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in the soy sauce and rosemary. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.
- Stir in the kale and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to combine coat.
- Add in the beans, mix to combine and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
- Add the reserved cooking liquid and the stock. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil and stir in the macaroni. Boil for 6 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.
- Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
- You can serve it with Parmesan cheese as a topping at the table if the soup is pareve.
This recipe can be doubled. Modified from: Soup: A Way of Life by Barbara Kafka
Wild Rice with Kale, Tomatoes and Almonds (pareve or meat)
6 to 8 servings
- 1 cup wild rice
- 2 cups water or broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ¼ cup minced onion
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 (14 oz.) cans plum tomatoes, drained, seeded, and chopped
- 3 to 4 cups finely chopped rinsed kale leaves
- ½ to 1 cup toasted almonds
- In a saucepan bring 2 cups water to a boil, add the rice and salt, cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
- In a heavy skillet saute the garlic and onion in the oil stirring constantly, until soft and golden. Add the tomatoes and kale, and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the kale is just wilted and tender.
- Place the rice in the serving bowl and add the kale mixture.
- Mix to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste and top with toasted almonds.
Modified, Submitted by Katie Marscaroni, Chicago
Kale Pasta Salad with Pistachio Dressing (pareve)
- 8 oz. angel hair pasta (you can use whole wheat spaghetti) broken into 2 inch pieces
- 1 cup pistachios, toasted
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic, smashed and chopped
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 large bunch of kale chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries
- In the bowl of a food processor or blender combine ½ cup pistachios, garlic, salt, olive oil, rice wine vinegar and process to combine. Set it aside.
- Bring a large pot of water (with about ½ Tablespoon of salt) to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente.
- Just before the pasta is done add the kale and let cook for about 20 seconds then immediately drain the pasta and kale into a colander and rinse it with cold water. Drain well, using paper towels to soak up any excess water.
- Place the mixture into a serving bowl and add about 1/3 of the dressing. Toss to coat.
- You can refrigerate the salad at this point and finish just before serving if you like.
- To finish, add half the cranberries and half the remaining pistachios. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle the remaining cranberries and pistachios on top. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the top and serve.
Chickpea and Kale Bulgur Stew (pareve or meat)
4 to 6 servings
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2/3 cup uncooked bulgur
- 1 (14 oz.) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 4½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1½ cup cauliflower, trimmed into small trees
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
- 3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
- 2 cup kale, destemmed and cut into thin slices
- Olive oil
- 1 small red onion, chopped for garnish
- In a soup pot over medium-high heat saute the onion in the olive oil for a minute then add the sugar and salt and cook for 1 more minute until the onion begins to soften a bit.
- Stir in the bulgur. Stir in the chickpeas and the stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for another few minutes, it should start to thicken.
- Taste to see if the bulgur is cooked through, if so add the orange juice. If not, simmer for a couple more minutes before adding the juice.
- Stir in the cauliflower, carrots, celery and the kale and then simmer another 4 to 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is just tender.
- If the stew is on the thick side, thin with a bit more water or stock.
- Taste, and add salt if necessary.
- Serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and red onions.
Modified from cookbook101.com
Chicken Kale and White Bean Soup (pareve or meat)
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 4 cups packed chopped kale
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the chicken and onion and cook 4 to 5 minutes stirring constantly.
- Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.
- Add broth, kale, tomatoes, celery and carrots and stir to combine. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until kale is tender.
- Add the beans and cook an additional 4 to 5 minutes until the beans are hot.
Super Simple Kale Salad (pareve)
- 1 head kale, shredded
- 1 cup chunky salsa (I use mango salsa)
- 2 avocados, diced
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne or black pepper
- 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
- ½ cup pine nuts or almonds
- 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
- In large salad bowl combine all ingredients together and toss to combine.
Browse through the OU’s growing collection of nearly 3000 recipes by visiting: OU Kosher & Holiday Recipes
Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, kosher.com and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.