Crisp Kale Is A Super Green

Farmers Levi Huston and Kristin Bauer at Lono Farm. Daniel Lane photos

Lono Farm plants according to the Hawaiian lunar calendar using biological techniques.

“If you’re a biological farmer, then you try to enhance the biology in the soil,” says Levi Huston. Biology means life, and this type of farming creates healthy soil so plants thrive without chemical assistance.

What’s growing now: Beets, carrots, chard, eggplant, green beans, herbs, kale, lettuce and onions.

KALE

Season: Kale grows yearround, and it takes two months to go from seed to table. Plants will produce up to two years, but Huston renews them after four months to keep them fresh and flavorful.

What to look for: Select kale that has some crispness to it. Limp and yellowing kale is old or has not been given enough nutrients.

Storage: “I like to take it out of the rubber band, get it wet and wrap it in a paper towel,” says Huston. He recommends storing it in the crisper, but his kale is so big, it may not fit. I store it on a shelf in a grocery bag.

Tip: Always remove leaves and discard stalks. For a healthy potato chip replacement, toss leaves with a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Bake in a single layer at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until crisp.

Preparation: Kale can be eaten raw, boiled, sautéed or roasted and is popular for juicers. Huston combines 1/4 cup olive oil with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and “massages” the kale for two minutes before mixing in sliced spring onions and grated carrot or beets. He marinates the salad for two hours at room temperature.

Health benefits: Kale is considered to be the most nutritious vegetable, and is exceptionally rich in beta carotene. Kale lowers the risk of cancer, including bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate. New research has shown that kale can help detoxify at a genetic level and its 45 flavonoids reduce chronic inflammation.

Lono Farm’s produce can be found at:

Grocery: Papaya’s Natural Foods and Hoku Whole Foods. Farmers Market: Hanalei, Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Distribution: Cultivate Kaua’i. Weekly custom orders available. Call 346-8892.

Lono Farm’s kale leaves average 18 inches

KALE MASH

I adapted this recipe from 101Cookbooks.com, and over the years it has become a favorite. Serves six as a side dish, or four as a vegetarian meal.

* 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
* Hawaiian sea salt
* 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 bunch kale, leaves chopped
* 1/2 cup warm milk or cream
* freshly ground black pepper
* 5 scallions, white and tender green parts, chopped
* 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
* fried shallots, for garnish (optional)

Put the potatoes in a large pot, add a pinch of salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and boil until tender, about 15 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chopped kale, a big pinch of salt, and sauté until tender.

Mash the potatoes and slowly stir in the milk. You are after a thick, creamy texture, so if your potatoes are on the dry side, keep adding milk until the texture is right. Season with salt and pepper.

Put the kale on top of the potatoes and give a quick stir. Transfer to a serving bowl, make a well in the center of the potatoes and pour the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with the scallions, Parmesan cheese and shallots.

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