The great kale experiment or how you, too, can get more vegetables into your diet and live to tell the tale (and there's a food recipe, too!)

We went to the farmer’s market the other day, and as I was admiring all the lovely green veg, I decided to buy a few. Two, in fact. One, it turns out, was great and one was not.

The rationale: There are so many, many veg out there we know nothing about. We are trying to eat a more healthy diet. Healthy eating = more vegetables. More vegetables means, erm, we need to try more veg.

The kale we loved. But the dandelion greens were bitter. So let's put the dandelion greens to one side and focus on the kale.

Kale: The mystery, the wonder, the, yeah, erm ...
Kale is a type of cabbage, but it looks like a green, leafy Swiss chard (long, as opposed to round). There are all different types, some with curly leaves, some plain, and so on.

From what I can learn, it is a hearty little thing, growing in cooler climates, such as the cooler parts of North America and Europe. In fact, it is supposed to be sweeter and more flavorful in the winter.

Kale can grow in all sorts of soil and seems to be fairly resistant to diseases and other problems than plague most cabbage. And this may explain the price, because we got a helluva bunch of it (at least as think as my husband’s arm, and he has big mousing muscles) for only $1.50. And it was organic.

Kale seems to be pretty healthy stuff, providing “more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around.” It’s loaded with all sorts of goodies, such as vitamins A and B6 and fiber and even potassium. It’s also a great source of fiber.

Pretty good stuff, eh?

Bringing home the goods
So I buy what looks like good, healthy greens with crisp leaves with no holes or tears and put them in separate bags: Kale in one bag and the dandelion in the other. Then I walk away from the stall where I bought them (I am so totally embarrassed), write the names of each on separate sticky notes, and drop the notes into their respective bags.

I figured I’d get home and forget which was the dandelion and which was the kale!

Storing the goods
Apparently, the kale should be stored like asparagus - wrapped in a damp paper towel and refrigerated. I went without the paper towel and two days later, when we ate it, it was divine, anyway.

Hearty stuff.

Let’s jump to the chase and find out what it tasted like
Bit earthy. But, really, surprisingly mild. I totally plan to make the recipe, below, again.

Eating the goods
As luck would have it, I am just now reading John Thorne’s “Pot on the Fire” (get it; in fact, get anything you can by this brilliant writer). I looked up kale and read a bit on an Irish dish that was mashed potatoes with greens incorporated. It caught my fancy, so I made my version of it. And here, more or less, is my recipe.
Food recipe: Kale and potatoes
3 russet potatoes (or any potato that makes a nice mash)
1 bunch of kale
5 garlic cloves (or more or less, depending on your taste)
2 tablespoons (more or less) vegetable cooking oil, such as safflower
1/4 cup cream
butter, to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Wash, peel, and cut the potatoes into chunks. Boil the potatoes until soft, about 30 minutes.

Heat a saute pan on medium. Once it is hot, add the oil and the garlic.

Thoroughly wash the kale and cut into small bite-size pieces. When the garlic is just starting to turn golden brown, add the kale. Stir periodically, until the kale is softened. (My potatoes were done before the kale was, so I added a bit of broth - about 1/3 cup - to the kale to help soften it up, faster.)

Put the potatoes and the kale into a large bowl. Add generous amounts of salt and pepper. Add the cream and all but two pats of the butter. Mash until the potatoes are smooth.

Put the potatoes and kale mixture into bowls. Top with butter (next time, I plan to top it with a nice grated cheese, too, such as parmesan-reggiano). Serve. Enjoy. And repeat.