Today I harvested about 1/3 of the kale from our garden because it was pushing up against the row cover and starting to bolt. I found myself with a full child-size wheelbarrow full of kale. It was time to get down to business making the most of this precious super food.
I love a good kale salad or sauteed kale as much as the next person (and I'll definitely make some of those), but using up this much kale was going to require thinking outside of the box. Here are some of the creative solutions I'll be using to make the most of today's harvest:
1. Sneaky Kale Flakes
Kale can be added to a million different dishes to boost the nutrition factor, which is an added bonus if you are a parent of a child who complains when a big pile of greens is thrown on his or her plate. Tonight, I chopped up a bunch of fresh kale into itty-bitty pieces and stirred it into our tomato sauce. I chopped up another pile to save for tomorrow's millet and corn veggie burgers.
As an added bonus, I put a third pile of chopped up kale into the dehydrator to save as kale flakes for sneaking into soups, stews, burgers, and anything else I can think of when winter has reclaimed our garden.
2. Dehydrated Kale Chips
I'm a big fan of simple, salty, and crispy kale chips. I normally make them in the oven, and I have this annoying habit of either cooking them for too short (at which point they are still too chewy) or too long (at which point they taste a bit burnt). I was excited to discover tonight that you can actually make kale chips in the dehydrator, so I plan to try that once I have finished drying out my sneaky kale flakes. I'll cut the kale from the stems, tear or cut into chip-size pieces, mix with olive oil and salt, and put in the dehydrator at 125 degrees for about 2.5 hours.
3. Veggie Stock
We fill our compost bin on almost a daily basis with veggie scraps from cooking, but when veggie scraps are fairly clean and still have some good bulk to them, we throw them in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Once that bag is full, we toss the frozen scraps into a stock pot, fill the stock pot with water, and simmer for a few hours to make homemade veggie stock. This is about the easiest project ever. I always aim to have some good onion and carrot scraps in there to diversify the ingredients, but today added a whole bunch of the kale stems that were removed during my other projects. Voila, extra nutritional yumminess for our stock. Careful, though, you wouldn't want the flavor of kale to completely overpower your stock.
There's way more to pesto than basil! You can make pesto from cilantro, arugula, garlic scapes, and - yes - kale (or any combination of these and other greens). I plan to save some of my kale to make a tasty "everything but the kitchen sink" batch of pesto. It will probably contain: kale, basil, garlic scapes, olive oil, sunflower seeds (a handy way to avoid nut allergies and save money compared to pine nuts), and Parmesan cheese. We freeze our pesto in ice cube trays to make it easy to access for pizza, pasta, or sandwich spread.
So, as they say, "Eat more Kale" in any way that works for you!