By Toni Ambrogio, Dietetic Intern
While many leafy green vegetables are full of healthful nutrients, kale has recently taken the spotlight for its versatility in the kitchen. While kale may start as a crunchy, leafy vegetable enjoyed in salad, it can be easily softened into a soup or stew, or transformed into kale chips for a healthier snacking option.
What Makes Kale Healthy?
Kale contains beneficial nutrients like beta carotene, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C. Beta carotene plays a role in vision and immunity; Vitamin K aids in proper clotting and coagulation of our blood; and Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are molecules that attach to free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals can negatively impact our bodies by causing damage to cells. Kale is also known as a “diabetes super food” due to its low glycemic index.
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.
Put the kale leaves in a bowl. Lightly pour the olive oil over the kale until the kale is glistening and coated (do not apply too much oil).
Transfer the kale to a baking sheet and spread it out for even cooking. Lightly season with salt. For a kick of citrus flavor, sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning. Create a bold, new flavor by sprinkling the kale with chili powder and garlic powder. You can be very creative!
Bake until crispy, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. Cool and serve.
Ribollita – The Italian Minestrone
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 – 6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, low sodium
6 cups water (or vegetable stock, low sodium)
2 15 ounce cans small white beans, low sodium
4 cups chopped kale
- If vegetables are canned, rinse under water until water runs clear to rinse away some of the sodium.
- Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO. Add the garlic, three-quarters of the chopped onion, the carrots and zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook the veggies for 7 to 8 minutes, then add the wine to deglaze the pot. Stir in the tomatoes and stock and bring up the heat. When the soup boils, reduce it to a simmer and stir in the bread and beans. Pile the greens into the pot and wilt them into the soup.
- Simmer the ribollita for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring the soup as it simmers, until it thickens to a dense stew-like consistency. Turn off the heat, adjust the seasonings and ladle into shallow bowls.
- Additional – top each bowl with some of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, an additional drizzle of EVOO, a spoonful of the reserved raw onion and some basil.