All hail king kale!

Farmers’ Market to celebrate nutritional powerhouse with Kale Festival this Saturday

As far as greens are concerned, kale is king.

Good thing the mighty vegetable is getting its own party this weekend: The Kale Festival at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market.

The festival runs the length of normal market hours, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., in the public parking lot between Eighth and Ninth streets on the east side of New Hampshire Street. And will be an ode to kale, with the veggie front and center. Thus, it’ll be the perfect time to try this über-healthy green if you’ve never attempted it.

Whether you’re unfamiliar with the king of the greens or its biggest fan, there are a lot of good things to know about what makes it so mighty. Therefore, we’ve put together a little guide and a lot of recipes, just so you’re ready to pay heed to the leaf.

The history

A member of the cabbage family, kale was probably the most popular green vegetable in all of Europe until the end of the Middle Ages. It was favored by the Romans and Greeks, and grown as far north as Russia and Scotland. Its popularity dwindled as trade and agriculture became more regulated, but it’s had its modern days in the sun, including a very useful stint in “victory gardens” during the food rationing of World War II because of its ease of growth and high nutrient content.

Kale has grown in popularity in recent years mostly for the very same reasons it was a staple in the 1940s: It’s easy to grow in several climates (including ours) and it’s a nutritional all-star.

The nutrition

Nutritional information for one cup, chopped: 33 calories, 0 grams fat, 2 grams protein, 206 percent of your daily vitamin A, 134 percent vitamin C, 9 percent calcium, 6 percent iron and a whopping 684 percent of your vitamin K.

Researchers have linked kale to lowering the risk of five different types of cancer: bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate. The lowered cancer risk may come from kale’s extremely high vitamin K count. The vitamin is needed by the body to facilitate bodily functions, and a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer.

Moreover, the fiber in kale has been shown to lower cholesterol by binding with bile acids, especially if the kale is cooked.

Types (and alternate names)

Curly (Scotch): Your most ubiquitous kale, this green has thick, curly leaves that range from light green to dark green and small to large. If a recipe says to just use “kale,” this is probably the one to which the author is referring.

Lacinato (Dinosaur, Tuscan or Black): A kale of many names, this one is a very dark green that sometimes looks black. It has a “pebbley” texture and long, flat leaves, which aren’t curly on the ends like curly and red kale. The flavor and texture of this green can be a bit more mild than the other two. This is the kind of kale used in Italian cooking.

Red (Russian): This kale actually isn’t as red as it is purple. It has the same flavor and texture of your regular curly kale, but with a pretty color that looks very nice raw.

Kale Salad

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 bunches kale, stems and tough ribs removed, leaves very finely chopped

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, chili powder and salt. Add kale, toss to combine and serve. Serves 6.

(Recipe from

Simple Soba with Lacinato Kale

1 large bunch lacinato kale, washed and chopped

12 ounces soba noodles

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (or to taste)

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (or to taste)

2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce (or to taste)

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Place a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.

Wash and kale as needed. Hold in bunch form and thinly slice remaining stems and leaves. Place in large bowl of cold water and swish to remove any remaining grit.

Once water has come to a rolling boil, add soba pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package instructs. Add kale to the boiling pasta, pressing down with the back of a large spoon as kale likes to float. Continue cooking, uncovered until kale and pasta are tender, about 5 minutes or so.

Drain pasta and kale. In a large mixing bowl, add minced garlic (can be sauteed for a milder flavor), toasted sesame oil, tamari and sesame seeds. Add kale and soba, toss to combine and give it a taste test. Add more goodies if necessary. Serve hot or at room temperature.

(Recipe from

Kale, Mushroom and Tomato Sauté with Polenta

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1/2 pound sliced button mushrooms

Salt and pepper

8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 bunch kale (about 3/4 pound), stemmed and roughly chopped

1 (18 ounces) roll precooked polenta, cut into 8 rounds

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in kale and 1/4 cup water, cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook until kale begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Toss well, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Cover and set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Arrange polenta in skillet in a single layer (working in batches, if needed) and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer polenta to a paper-towel-lined plate as done.

Arrange polenta on plates, spoon kale and mushroom mixture over the top, garnish with cheese and serve. Serves 4.

(Recipe from

Garlic-Braised Kale and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 red onion diced

Sea salt to taste

Pinch pico de gallo seasoning

3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, drained well

1 bunch kale (use medium-sized bunch)

1 lemon, zested

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

Place a small amount of oil, garlic and onion in a deep skillet or wok and turn heat to medium. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a generous pinch of salt, pico de gallo and saute for about 2 minutes. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes. Remove kale stems, dice and stir into skillet. Slice kale leaves and stir them, with lemon zest, into skillet, season to taste with salt and saute for 2 minutes. Add water and rice wine vinegar, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until kale is quite wilted and a deep green, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar to combine. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with hazelnuts. Serves 3-4.

(Recipe from

Winter Squash Stew with White Beans and Kale

2 sprigs parsley

2 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup apple cider

1 quart vegetable broth

4 cups chopped kale or other dark, leafy greens, (tough ribs removed)

2 cups cooked white beans, drained

1/2 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound peeled and seeded winter squash, such as butternut, hubbard or dumpling, cut into 1-inch chunks

Tie parsley, thyme and bay leaves together with a piece of kitchen twine and set herb bundle aside.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and reserved herb bundle and cook until onions are just softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook until onions are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes more. Add cider and broth and bring to a boil, then add kale, beans, salt and pepper, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Add squash and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes more. Discard herb bundle, ladle stew into bowls and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

(Recipe from


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