Chef Notes: Dinosaur Kale

Chef Notes: Dinosaur Kale

I had never heard of dinosaur kale until my internship at Fine Cooking Magazine. Growing up in the South, we certainly ate our share of greens, including kale, but never dinosaur kale. In fact, the first time it showed up on my grocery list I had to search for a picture on the internet so I would know what I was looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur kale is also called lacinato kale, Tuscan kale, Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, cavolo nero, black kale, flat back cabbage, palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm. I rarely see it in regular grocery stores but I run across it regularly at grocery stores like Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) and at farmer’s markets during the summer. Dinosaur kale, aside from having a kid friendly name, has a dark blue/green, heartier leaf with a bumpy texture (supposedly like dinosaur skin), and a sweeter, milder flavor than it’s more common cousins. All kales are extremely healthy providing more than 100% of the daily recommended allowance of vitamins K and A, and 88 percent for vitamin C. Kale is a member of the brassica family along with cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts, which are bursting with organosulfur compounds, helpful in preventing cancer.

When selecting, look for firm, dark leaves free from wilted or brown spots. To store, trim the bottoms of the stalks, wrap loosely in damp paper towels, and place in a plastic bag or wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To prepare, rinse and dry well then fold in half and run your knife down the edge of the center rib and remove. From there your options are endless. You can chiffonade the leaves (roll up a few leaves like a cigar and slice from end to end into thin ribbons) and leave raw to serve in a salad. Or you can use them in endless recipes. You may need to quickly blanch the leaves before sautéing if you’re making a quick dish but if you’re making something that will be cooking low and slow you can simply add the leaves raw. Here are a few dish recommendations. You can find multiple variations of these recipes online as they are common kale recipes.

Raw Dinosaur Kale Salad (a nice change and a different texture)

Warm Kale Salad (ditto)

Dinosaur Kale Chips (so easy and delicious and healthy)

Pasta with pumpkin, sausage, and cavolo nero (a personal favorite)

Tuscan Kale with Shallots & crisp salami (a great quick side dish)

Kale & white bean soup with sausage

Cannellini bean & kale soup

Chickpea soup with crispy kale (yum, yum, yum, yum…..)

Braised kale & potatoes

Sauted kale with garlic

Kale & pecorino crustini (awesome for parties)

Kale & parmesan flatbread (easy way to make pizza more healthy)

Macaroni & cheese with kale & bacon (a no brainer…bacon….please!)

You can always substitute the more common varieties of kale for dinosaur kale if you find it difficult to locate. I have found that the kids like the dinosaur better because of the name (duh!), the less bitter taste, and the firmer texture of the leaves. You can get them involved in washing, drying, and older kids can help remove the ribs and tear or cut into the appropriate sizes. It’s very a very forgiving vegetable. You almost can’t screw it up.

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