Victoria Amran from the Cornish Food Box celebrates the cabbage with the ‘superfood’ status…
“Kale is a fantastic super food which has a long history of making it onto our plates. It has been cultivated for over 2000 years and selective breeding of kale varieties chosen for tightly packed leaves at the top eventually led to the development of the cabbages we have today. Kale had fallen rather out of favour with British shoppers until recent years when top chefs began championing these tasty greens as our newest ‘superfood’. You can now commonly find several tasty varieties, including Red Russian, Cavolo Nero and Green Curly Kale.
Its hardy nature means kale can be grown nearly all year round in Cornwall (and the rest of the UK), but the majority is produced over the winter months. Scottish households traditionally had a kale (or kail) yard to supply the household vegetable needs – literally a cabbage garden – which shows how important these brassicas were in supplying essential nutrients during the bleak Scottish winters.
You want to look out for the tender young leaves and then eat them right away. Kale can go limp and yellow very quickly so keep it in the fridge standing up in a jug of water. It’s a versatile vegetable – you can add it to almost any dish where you want a boost of greens, and it is very popular in juicing and green smoothie recipes. Cavolo Nero is also known as Tuscan Black Cabbage and has long tender dark green stems. I think it is best just simply and gently steamed, then served with a little butter and seasoning. The Curly Kales come in both bright green and a deep purple. They have a more robust texture and so work really well in stir-fries or in crispy seaweed recipes.”