You’d think I’d learn my lesson. Every spring I plant “mesclun” (pronounced mess-cloon). Mesclun is a mixture of lettuces and tender greens for use in salads. They do really well in our cool coastal climate and give me a variety of greens. Most mesclun seed packages contain the seeds of lettuce, arugula, endives, mustard, cresses, and escarole. This year I planted a mesclun package that had kale seeds in it. This has happened before but I’d forgotten how well kale grows here. It grew so large and fast that it pretty much obliterated the smaller greens.
Kale is packed with vitamins and minerals and can be put in salads or cooked. Some varieties have curly, frilly leaves and some are smooth. The seeds in this package were that of red kale.
Kale likes rich soil. Sow seeds in early spring about ½ inch deep and two feet apart. For a fall-winter crop, sow seeds in late September or early October while soil is still warm. Keep the soil moist. Thin plants to 1-½ feet apart.
Kale will keep growing for some time and not go to seed as quickly as mustard greens. Harvest outer leaves as needed for recipes. Young tender leaves are good in salads and older leaves are better cooked.
I cook kale like I cook mustard. Here is a simple and delicious recipe that I made last week.
Recipe for Sautéed Kale
1 lb. kale
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
Pinch of dried hot red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins, currants, or dried cranberries (optional)
Cut off tough stems and the center rib of the chard leaf and discard. Cut leaves into 1-inch strips. Cook kale in a 6-quart pot with water, stirring occasionally, or steam in microwave for about 3 minutes just until tender. Drain in a colander.
Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté onion, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 6 to 8 minutes). Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté, stirring, until garlic is fragrant (about 1 minute). Reduce heat to moderate, then add kale and raisins and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar, and salt.
I think you’ll enjoy this easy-to-prepare dish, whether or not you grow kale or buy it at the farmer’s market. I feed my extra kale to my hens and they love it. You can visit them at: backyard hencam. Perhaps you’ll find them eating my overgrown kale.