10 Sep Kale, the kale that is conquering everyone in the world
Kale, known in Italy as curly kale, is a vegetable that, in recent years, has acquired great fame in the kitchen. The credit for this success, undoubtedly, is due to its incredible properties, which make it a superfood. Let’s see what are the characteristics of kale, its beneficial properties and how to cook this vegetable.
Kale, the superfood that was born as a poor herb
The term kale will not say much to many, as well as the scientific term brassica oleracea sabellica. Yet, kale, as it is best known in typical local cuisine, is a product often used in traditional peasant dishes. Its name, that of curly kale, as you can easily guess, is due to the characteristic of its leaves. Beyond the physical characteristics, what has attracted more and more people to this dish in recent years are its nutritional characteristics. Let’s start taking a closer look at kale cabbage.
Cabbage kale, how it is made and what its history is
As already mentioned, kale cabbage is defined as curly in Italy precisely because of the characteristic shape of its leaves. From a botanical point of view, kale is a cultivar of cabbage, the leaves of which are edible. Although sometimes it can also be referred to as black kale, its leaves are typically green or, at most, purple. Unlike cabbage, kale does not form a head, but has a development more similar to that of wild cabbage.
From a historical point of view, this cabbage has origins in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. Evidence of kale cultivation dates back as far as 2000 BC. Later, in the 4th century BC, kale cultivation began in Greece as well. Shortly thereafter, curly-leaf cabbage seems to have also arrived in Italy, near ancient Rome, where it was called the Sabellian cabbage and is considered an ancestor of the cabbage we know today. Subsequently, the kale reached a little around the world, from Russia to the United States of America, where it was mainly used for decorative purposes. Currently, this cultivation finds its place in northern countries, such as northern Germany, and in North America. In these areas, kale find the cool climate they need to thrive. But we will talk about this later in the article.
The nutritional properties of black cabbage and why it is so desired
In recent years, kale has become a particularly popular food for those who wish to be careful with their diet. This is because kale, as shown by numerous scientific researches, has innumerable beneficial properties for the human body, to the point that it is counted among the superfoods.
First, kale contains a high amount of vitamin C, which promotes tissue regeneration, stimulates the production of some neurotransmitters and promotes the functioning of various enzymes. In addition, of course, to the immune and antioxidant function, for which vitamin C is particularly suitable. Furthermore, kale is also rich in beta-carotene, which has antioxidant properties, and vitamin A, which instead promotes the immune response and tissue regeneration. Another particularly important nutrient for the human body that kale is rich in is vitamin K. This type of vitamin is essential for the blood clotting process and for bone health. Thanks to lutein and zeaxanthin, like many green leafy vegetables, it is able to protect the eyes. Last but not least, kale is also very rich in calcium, which obviously guarantees bone health.
The cultivation of curly kale in Italy
The cultivation of curly kale is very widespread in Italy. This is because kale adapts easily enough to low temperatures, making it a typically autumn and winter crop. This allows for easy insertion of cabbage into soups and broths. However, if you organize yourself with sufficient timing, you can harvest kale leaves practically all year round.
The sowing period takes place, if the cultivation starts from the seedbed, from February. In any case, you can continue until July. Harvesting begins approximately two months after transplanting, but it still depends a lot on the sowing period and the seasonal trend.
However, there are several varieties of kale:
- black kale or Tuscan cabbage: it has irregular leaves, reminiscent of the wrinkled skin of reptiles; the flavor of this cabbage is delicate, with an important sweet note;
- kale or curly kale: the leaf is characterized precisely by its curled shape; the flavor is more intense than the previous one, with a bitter note and an important earthy note;
- baby green kale: it is characterized by the small size leaf, rippled and jagged; from the point of view of flavor, it has a strong earthy note;
- baby black kale – the leaves are small in size, but elongated; the flavor is distinctive, with a slight hint of spiciness and an earthy aftertaste.
These latter varieties, in particular, are those grown by Altamura OP.
How to cook kale: some consuming tips
The great success that kale is enjoying has given rise to numerous recipes using this vegetable. Kale, however, can also be eaten raw, taking care to use the innermost leaves. These, in addition to being more tender, are also richer in vitamin C.
Turning to the recipes for curly kale we can find countless ideas. The most famous recipe, of course, is the kale and bean soup. A simple dish, typical of the peasant tradition, which can give warmth in the coldest winter evenings, if accompanied with some croutons. By replacing the beans with chickpeas, you can then make an excellent kale salad with chickpeas: fresh and tasty, this dish will also give you satisfaction. Not just main courses, though. In fact, kale is also suitable for excellent first courses. A proposal to try undoubtedly is the kale and walnut pesto: creamy and tasty, it will be an innovative reinterpretation of the more traditional Genoese pesto. In short, there are many recipes: you just need to experiment and discover the goodness of this vegetable.