No garden should be without kale and collards. These easy-to-grow green leafy vegetables are both from the Brassica family (which includes cabbage, kohlrabi, Brussel sprouts and broccoli.)
These are sturdy vegetables. They’ll grow in just about any soil and climate (although they will slow down a bit when the weather is hot). You should make these a staple of your fall/winter garden. Like most Brassicas, the flavor of kale and collards actually improves after a slight frost. With protection they will continue to thrive and produce throughout mild winters. In our bitter Upper Midwest winters, I grow them in my cold frame, where they are dormant through the worst of the winter but spring back to life in late February.
You don’t need to plant a lot
Just 4-6 collard or kale plants will give you an abundant supply of vegetable goodness. As the plants grow, harvest the older outer and lower leaves and the plant will continue to produce all summer and fall.
So you can see why this is a vegetable I love to grow. And there are lots of ways to enjoy this tasty vegetable. Here are just three recipes to get you started:
(Portuguese Green Soup)
This national soup from Portugal is so easy to prepare and tastes
wonderful on a cold fall day.
6 potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
4-6 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1⁄2 lb linguiça or chorizo, sliced
1 lb kale or collard, shredded
11⁄2 – 2 teaspoons salt
pepper to taste
Heat 3 Tablespoons oil in saucepan. Sauté onions and garlic for 3 minutes, add potatoes and sauté another 3-4 minutes. Add 4 cups water, cover and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Remove potatoes from heat and blend with 1⁄4 cup olive until pureed. Add chicken broth, linguiça and shredded kale. Add additional water if needed for a smooth, soup-like consistency. Slowly heat, stirring to prevent scorching.
Simmer for another 5 minutes, or until kale is cooked tender.
Simple Fried Greens
Quick and easy to prepare, packed with calcium and vitamin A.
1⁄4 lb bacon, cut into small pieces
1 lb kale (or collards, mustard greens), shredded*
1⁄4 cup water
Cook bacon in a large pan until crispy. Do not drain the fat, just add the shredded kale. Stir until all the kale is coated with bacon drippings. Add water, put a lid on and turn the heat off. The greens will continue to steam and will be ready in 4-5 minutes.
Kale (or Collard) Chips
You can’t find an easier—or more nutritious—snack to prepare. I know, I know—you’re thinking this is a little too strange, even for me. But trust me, these are really yummy!
Wash and pat dry kale leaves. Brush with olive oil. Cut the thick stem out of the center and cut the leaves into 2” pieces. Arrange on a dehydrating tray and sprinkle with salt. Don’t over salt!
Dehydrate at 100° for 4-6 hours. You get a tasty, vivid green, crunchy chip.
It’s that easy.
Your favorite stuffed cabbage is even easier to make if you substitute kale or collard leaves for
*Here’s a video that demonstrates an easy way to shred collards or kale: