The Produce Corner is a column by farmer and Dill Pickle owner Rob Montalbano. Here Rob shares info on some of his favorite in-season veggies including history, cooking ideas and storage tips. Rob lives and works with his wife Christina on their farm in Sandwich, IL.
By Rob Montalbano
Keep an eye out for one of spring’s tasty treats at the store this week, folks. I’m talking about kale and this is the season it shines. Kale is a member of the Broccoli and Cabbage family which absolutely adores cool, wet weather. We’ve had quite a bit of that in northern Illinois lately!
Kale can be eaten in many ways. Personally, I chop up and eat the entire leaf – stalks and all – although many simply cut away the stalks and eat the leaves. Baby kale, by the way, will always be more tender than full grown leaves. Some like it raw, tossed onto salads or dressed with a vinaigrette to break down the leaves. Mostly, though, kale is considered a cooking green. You can boil it, if you like mushy, for a delicious Southern greens recipe. Or you can sauté it just until it wilts and add to rice or even pizza! And I would be remiss if I did not mention making kale chips. Making kale chips is easy. Just preheat the oven to 375°, sprinkle olive oil on a single layer of kale, salt lightly and bake until the outer edges get crispy, about 15 minutes. Kids love ‘em! Kale is a superb source of vitamins A, C, and K and a very good source of fiber, potassium, and calcium.
Store your kale in a plastic bag or damp towel in the crisper. If bought fresh, kale will last for quite a few days in the refrigerator. Of course, like all produce, kale is best enjoyed soon after harvest.