How can a food that tastes so good actually be good for me? Kale, you temptress! Not only is this dark, leafy green one of the top cancer-fighting veggies out there, but it’s proven to lower cholesterol and give you a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals needed for a balanced diet.
Don’t worry if you’re new to kale. Though it’s been around for a long time, I had never heard of the cruciferous vergetable until 2003. After returning from China where I had found all kinds of new green vegetables on my plate, I moved back to South Portland and into a community house comprised of avid organic gardeners. One housemate, Dana, had taken a real shine to a particular variety of kale, lacinato. Flat-leafed and fleshy, it’s more tender than the popularized curly-leafed variety.
During one of our first family-style dinners at Harney House, Dana contributed a kale dish that had me licking my plate and asking for more. Fortunately the Pacific Northwest’s misty temperate climate made dark, leafy greens very easy to cultivate, so we shared many more plates of kale during our time together.
If you’ve never eaten kale, I highly recommend the recipe featured below. Like most “real” Chinese cuisine, the combination of toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, touch of honey, and slightly bitter greens not only activates different kinds of taste buds with each bite, but its rich, pungent smell will make your belly growl. I can’t count how many times I’ve prepared this kale dish over the years, and whenever I’ve made it for friends, they ask for the recipe. I always tell them that they can have it, but they need to promise to buy organic kale.
Why am I such a stickler about organic when it comes to my greens? Conventionally grown kale is on the Dirty Dozen list of vegetables found with the highest levels of pesticide residue. What’s the point of eating something that can reduce your risk of cancer if it’s covered in cancer-producing pesticides? It’s not worth it. Besides the organic version of this recipe will give you enough strength to lift cars.
Don’t quote me on that.
Sesame Ginger Kale
1 bunch lacinato (dino) kale, stemmed and torn into pieces (Be sure to wash properly, and dry as much as possible.)
2 medium cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp roasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp honey (I use local raw, unfiltered honey when I can.), or agave nectar if you want a vegan version
1. Heat olive oil on medium heat until hot. Add ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant, stirring constantly to prevent them from burning. (I usually stir for about 20-30 seconds.)
2. Add the kale and stir well to get the oil distributed on the kale.
3. Add the soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil, stirring until the kale wilts, 45 seconds to 1 minute.
4. Remove from heat, and serve immediately.