‘Let them eat kale'

Food fashions come and go just as often as clothes fashions do. And some fashions we're grateful are gone. Remember go-go boots, leisure suits and Nehru jackets?

One darling of superfoods these days is kale but I'm pretty sure it's one that will not go out of style any time soon.

In addition to it being one of the most nutrient-packed foods there is, it's a lot more plentiful and available than it used to be. I never remember seeing kale in any supermarket's produce department while I was growing up.

But now it's available fresh and frozen in many local grocery stores. I even grow it myself. (So easy to grow.)

Before you go and turn up your nose at kale and reject it out of hand just because it's so healthy and good for you, I beg you to give it a try.

It's a very versatile green. It can be eaten fresh, steamed, baked, and can easily slide into soups and stews without your even noticing. And if I told you about all the nutrients it had, you'd be bored before I was done telling you.

I bet that once you try it, you won't have to sneak it in. Although, I confess, that's exactly what I did in my home.

Let me explain: One of our regular side dishes is rice and spinach. I like to call it Popeye rice. I just saut a bag of baby spinach (or a thawed -- and squeezed pretty dry block of frozen chopped spinach) in a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter just until it's wilted; a chopped garlic clove doesn't hurt either. I then add two cups of cooked rice. (Jasmine or basmati are my favorites, but any white or brown rice will work.)

Then I'll add some chopped roasted red pepper. When it's heated through, I'll toss it with about four ounces of feta cheese.

One day, because I had a lot of extra kale languishing in the crisper drawer, I decided to use it instead of spinach.

And even though the dish was already a favorite with my husband, he sat up and noticed that it was a little different and told me so. He also said that it was even better than usual. "What did you do differently," he asked.

I fessed up and revealed my kale secret. And now it's something we eat regularly.

I'm also a big fan of kale chips: You just toss trimmed kale lightly with olive oil and kosher salt, spread it out on a cookie sheet and roast at 400 degrees F. for about 10 to 12 minutes, just until the edges start to brown and you have a great snack. Really! Even my picky teenaged nephew liked it.

And I could wax poetic about massaged kale salad. Imagine kneading a bowl of trimmed kale as if you were rubbing someone's shoulders the massage has the same effect on the kale as it does on people. It relaxes the fibers and you can almost hear it say,"Ahhhh!" After its massage, it gets wrapped up in a lemony vinaigrette, just like a plush bathrobe.

Go ahead and try some kale. Be brave. Be healthy.

(Wolbert is a former corporate communicator and English teacher, now indulging in her two loves, writing and cooking. She can be reached at rdwolbert@gmail.com or at her Sprigs of Rosemary Facebook page.)

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