It is often said that in Britain, we do not have a climate – we have weather! And boy, is that true of this year!
This past winter was one of the wettest and mildest on record. We barely had any true frosts – not great for autumn planted bulbs like garlic which rely on frost to help them split – and the torrential floods left most of the ground a sodden and undiggable mess. The rows of winter lettuces that I planted in October, for example, quickly rotted away before they were allowed the opportunity to flourish. After the rain came one of the driest and sunniest Aprils on record. If you ever have any doubts about climate change, ask a farmer or gardener.
I planted some delicious rows of curly kale in October which I was planning to enjoy through the late winter and spring – but the series of extreme weather fluctuations had other ideas. The non-stop rain followed by the recent heat waves caused my whole crop to have stunted growth in the winter and then a quick bolt in the spring. This resulted in it going to seed far quicker than I expected, so I had to harvest as much as possible in a short time. Although I wasn’t able to enjoy this plant for as long as I wanted, I did manage to get a delicious crop off the stalks before it went completely to seed.
As is usually the case, I now have a glut! Needless to say, kale is making an appearance in all of my meals for the next few days. Fortunately, kale is one of those extremely healthy and delicious ingredients that you can add to almost any meal for a quick shot of nutrients. 100g of kale has more calcium than 100g of milk (150mg compared to 125mg) and boasts an impressively high amount of vitamins A, C, and K. So if you’re looking for a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to add some additional nutrients to your day, here are 3 recipes which will help you stay healthy and satisfied.
Breakfast: Kale Smoothie
Prep Time, 5 minutes / Assemble Time, 2 minutes
- 1 cup kale leaves (stems removed)
- 1 ripe banana (peeled)
- 1 cup almond milk (or semi-skimmed milk if you don’t have almond)
- 2 scoops of protein powder (chocolate or vanilla works well)
- Handful of ice cubes
- Dash of cinnamon
Assemble all the ingredients into a blender (minus the cinnamon) and pulse on high for 1-2 minutes, until everything is well incorporated and it is a thick, creamy consistency without any lumps. Once it is well mixed, pour into a large glass and top with a dash of cinnamon.
Lunch: Mixed Greens and Kale Salad
Prep Time, 10 minutes / Assemble Time, 2 minutes
- 1 cup kale leaves (stems removed)
- 1 cup of mixed lettuces (the more colourful and varied, the better!)
- 1/4 cup carrots, chopped or shredded and peeled
- 1/4 cup cucumber, diced
- 1/4 cup celery, chopped
- 1/2 of a yellow pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 stalk of spring onion (scallion), chopped
- 25g walnuts, chopped
- 25g raisins
- 25g feta cheese, diced
- Vinaigrette of your choice
Place the cut carrots, cucumber, celery, pepper, tomatoes, spring onions, walnuts, raisins, and cheese and place it into a bowl of mixed lettuce and kale leaves. Top with your dressing of choice and give it a good toss.
Dinner: Kale and Three Bean Soup
Prep Time, 5 minutes / Cook Time, 20 minutes
- 1 tbl olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 whole carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tin of mixed beans in water, strained and rinsed
- [optional] 2 cups of frozen Quorn chicken pieces (can use real chicken but I’m vegetarian, so I occasionally use this instead – it has the same amount of protein and a fraction of the fat)
- 2 cups of kale leaves (stems removed)
- 4 cups of vegetable stock
- Sprinkling of dried rosemary and sage
- Dash of salt and pepper
Pour the olive oil into a saucepan over medium heat and add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to make a mirepoix. Let it cook down until the onions start to be translucent and occasionally stir to keep it from sticking. After 5-7 minutes, pour a few tablespoons of water into the pan, allowing it to deglaze the cooking veg and oil without adding more fat to the mixture, and then pour in the tin of beans.
Allow the beans to cook for a few minutes before adding the ‘chicken’ pieces. After these have cooked for a few minutes, stir in 4 cups of vegetable stock.
Allow this to cook for a few more minutes until everything is well incoporated and bubbling away. Lastly, add the fresh kale leaves and chopped dried herbs – I used rosemary and sage that I picked and dried from the winter – to add a bit more flavour. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Let the soup come to a rolling boil and then turn it to low for about 5-10 minutes.
After it has been left to sit on low, ladle it into a bowl and tuck in! This recipe should make about four servings and will keep in the fridge for a few days.
Enjoy your homemade bowl of nutritious comfort!
I hope these recipes will help you to see all the possibilities of kale and encourage you to seek creative ways of integrating this nutritious vegetable into your daily meals.