Some years ago, before the obsession with all things local and organic became a full blown national epidemic, I was at a dinner party in Cambridge, Mass., when our hostess emerged from the kitchen carrying a platter of a limp-looking green vegetable.
"Mmmmmmm," murmured our table filled with right-thinking progressives. "Steamed kale!"
Only in Cambridge, I thought, could a relatively obscure and much-maligned leafy green elicit oohs and aaaahs when paired with nothing more than salt and vaporized water.
Today, I've grown to love kale, so much so that its very name has become synonymous with my own farming enterprise. When folks would ask why I was leaving New York for Vermont, my deadpan response was, invariably, "To grow kale."
Still, making the green taste as good as it feels -- kale scores virtually off the charts on health benefits, protecting against everything from lung cancer to arthritis -- can be a challenge. It's tough to the touch, occasionally bitter, and breaking it down into more digestible format without destroying its nutritional qualities takes a bit of kitchen savvy (though really only a bit).
So I was amazed to discover this week purple kale that is amazing to eat raw. Seriously, I chewed it right out of the ground and it was delicious, no prep necessary. You don't even have to massage it. The secret? Pick it young, an option you'll most likely have only if you grow your own.
Ours is perfectly ripe this week -- luxurious, green-stemmed, soft to the touch, antioxidant-bursting kale. No steaming necessary.
Take that, Cambridge.