Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dino Kale

Please give a hearty Weird Veg welcome to dinosaur kale, the lumpiest, crunchiest member of the kale family. Dino kale belongs to the more bulbous Brassica oleracea branch, making it kin to collards, cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, as opposed to the more delicately leaved side, Brassica napus, which includes Russian kale, as pictured in the previous kale post.

This night-green bunch may look prehistoric, but dino kale is actually considered a more recent variety of kale, discovered in Italy in the 19th century. Its name comes from its scaly hide, though it could possibly be the dinosaurs' preferred leafy snack, judging by how much my baby dino seemed to enjoy several tiny bites of its eponymous vegetable, sauteed with some potatoes and corn, with a bit of cheese grated on top. I also used dino kale as one of the layers in a winter vegetable lasagna I made inspired by Erin's beautifully layered version. And I'll never forget the time she made me the most delicious boiled kale on toast topped with a fried egg (!), the recipe for which comes from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook via the always mouth-watering Orangette blog.

Things to know about dino kale are that its darker color suggests it has higher levels of vitamins and carotenoids (they help your eyes) than even other types of kale, already known in general as The Phytonutrient Master, and that it can be grumpy in the morning, so watch your hands when you reach in the crisper for something to scramble with your eggs. Like the wily rutabaga, dino kale operates under several sneaky aliases, including Black Tuscan Kale, Cavolo Nero, Nero Toscana, Black Cabbage, Black Palm, and Laciniato. The Cavolo Nero especially likes to peep in windows at night, so keep your curtains drawn if you're afraid of the dark cavolo.

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