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A Side of Greens: Kale

Kale from the GardenI recently asked the Skill It community what we could offer that would help make dinner a little easier. One suggestion was to offer some ideas on easy, healthy side dishes. I could not be happier to take on this project and round up all my favorites and share them with you!

One by one, I’ll share the ways we cook up all our favorite greens.

Today, I am delighted to talk all about one of my all-time favorites, kale. This dark green leafy vegetable has lots of health benefits and I love its texture and nutty, almost sweet flavor. Since the leaves are fairly thick, I also love that they don’t reduce in volume too much when cooked.

Kale is also one of the easiest things to grow in a backyard garden.

The first photo here is from our raised beds last summer. We bought some kale babies from a local community garden plant sale and popped them into the backyard without much ado. With sunshine and water, the kale went crazy and supplied us with so many dinners worth of side dishes. It was awesome!

So, how do you prepare this great food for a simple side dish? I have a few tips for you and some ideas on how you can spruce up a basic steamed or sauteed side of kale with some extra ingredients.

Red_Leaf_KaleTo prepare the kale I first have to decide if I’ll be cooking with or without the stems. This is based on how thick or tough they seem. If the stems are pretty thin, I keep them. If they’re tough, I remove them by cutting or ripping green leaf away from the stem.

Once that’s done, I use a nice sharp knife and cut across the leaf to make thin strips, about 1/2 inches wide. But if you have little hands who want to help you in the kitchen, they could rip the kale into small pieces by hand.

To cook up the kale, I do a little steam & saute combo.

This means I cook it in a little olive oil first for flavor and then splash a little water in the skillet and cover it so it can steam, too. By adding the water second, I make sure I don’t add too much because I am not a fan of too-soggy kale.

The cooking time varies based on how much kale you have, the texture of the leaves, and how much heat you use. For this shredded kale it usually takes about 4-7 minutes to cook down to a perfectly delicious but not-overdone consistency.

Oh yes, this reminds me that cooking the greens is always the very last thing I do before serving dinner to assure that the kale is nice and hot when we get to the table. I also put my dishes in a warm oven (about 250 degrees) before serving the food because that keeps it hot longer. {You might skip that if some of your dinner companions are quite little.}

Sauteed Kale with Shaved ParmesanLast but not least, here are some fun things you can add to your kale to give them more flavor and even a bit of texture. Mix, match, experiment, come up with your own favorite combinations, and most of all, enjoy! {I had NO idea I could talk about kale for this long!!}

Tasty Toppings for Kale

Toasted Sunflower seeds & feta
Shaved parmesan & dried cranberries
Goat cheese & pancetta or bacon
Caramelized onions & balsamic vinegar


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Pretty Pink Foods for Valentine’s Day

I have been busy as a bee leading the Winter session of Season’s Eatings and creating goodies for the Skill It newsletter these past few weeks. (Not signed up? Click here to be on the list!)

The spirit of this day is a celebration of love and is typically associated with hearts and flowers, chocolate and candy. While I enjoy chocolate as much as the next gal, I wanted to honor this day in a different way.

Since food is always on my mind, Valentine’s Day has been making me think about all the pretty pink fruits and veggies I enjoy eating. So I rounded up my favorite photos of pretty, pink food and am sharing them here in a short & sweet way.

From beans to borscht, my favorite pink soup, these photos remind us that every color of the rainbow can be found in nature…and usually in an edible form!

Pink_Beans_RadicchioPink Beans & Radicchio

Pink_Grapefruit_BorschtPink Grapefruit & Borscht (Beet Soup)

Pink_Chard_GreetingRainbow Chard Stems

I hope you have a beautiful, delicious, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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