Sunday, March 16, 2003

Serve it this week: Kale



By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

History: Kale may have been the first form of cabbage to be cultivated. Also called borecole and cow cabbage, it has long been a favorite of the northern European countries of Scotland, Ireland, Denmark and Germany. Kale and collards are the only two members of the cabbage family that don't form a head, but grow in a loose bouquet of leaves. Curly kale is the most common variety in the United States, especially the South. Other varieties include Russian Red, Tuscan (also called black kale, cavolo nero and lacinato) and ornamental kale.

Buy: Kale is generally available year-round, but usually tastes best during cold weather months. Buy deep-colored bunches with moist, small to medium leaves. Avoid dried, browned or yellowed plants.

Store: Wrap in plastic and store in coldest part of refrigerator no longer than three days.

Prepare: Remove leaves from tough stems and discard stems. Small leaves can be left on stems for cooking. Swish or soak briefly in tepid water several times to remove sand or grit. Steam, braise or boil kale. Use the most tender leaves in salads.

Good for you: Kale is a good source of vitamins A, C and K.

Colcannon

2 pounds Yukon gold or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

2 bunches scallions (white parts only), sliced

1 small head kale or green cabbage (cored, tough stems removed) and chopped into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup milk or half-and-half, warmed

4 to 8 tablespoons butter, softened

1 scant teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place chunked potatoes in large saucepan or Dutch oven and add cold water to cover. Pile sliced scallions and chopped cabbage on top of potatoes. Bring water to boil, then reduce heat to maintain gentle boil. Cook, covered, until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

Drain and return potatoes, cabbage and scallions to the pot. Mash mixture while adding warm milk, butter, salt and pepper. When mixture is coarsely mashed, taste and adjust seasonings before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Adapted from Joy of Cooking (Scribner; $30)




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