Uncle John's Kale from No.1 Hotel and Spa kitchen garden
Every now and again a vegetable becomes strangely, well fashionable. For some strange reason right now, it seems to be kale. It's on TV, it's in trendy new recipes, it either sells like hot, well, kale, or it's left behind at market stalls by folk who just don't know what to do with it. Kale is a cabbage, a member of the brassica family, and there are as many varieties as there are of cabbage, varieties like the much loved in Italy Cavalo Nero or the more common in Ireland Curly Kale, great in Colcannon. But cabbage, it is not. It has a different flavour and texture, most varieties cook more quickly and go with other foods like cheese and fish which cabbage, generally does not like. Kales can simply be wilted, a bit like spinach, it can be used in risottos, fried rice, it takes strong flavours like ginger or bacon. It's yummy, it's gooood for you and it's an animal in the garden.
Kale is hardy and as it's a wintering vegetable, you can bring seedlings on in summer, or try direct sowing into prepared soil in a warm July or August. It likes a soil of ph 5.5 to 6 and is hungry for nitrogen so feed it well. In good conditions it shouldn't get too many pests, if any. Keep the plants watered well, which, in Ireland, shouldn't be a problem.
Though Kale may be having a moment, its season is coming to an end. The outer leaves are still tasty but if you pick these off some firm young shoots will soon appear and these are so juicy and sweet you can eat them raw. Last Autumn we planted some kale seedlings over at the garden at No.1, it's the veg that keeps on giving, as you can cut leaves as you need them, and they just keep growing. It's April now and the plants are tall and strong and still firing out juicy, green, tasty treats. Soon the stalks will be pulled and composted so if you see kale, buy it and when August comes back around, as it inevitably does, plant some into your beds after you've pulled up your potatoes. If I haven't grown the seedlings myself I get them from Eileen Twoomey who sells at her Bawnmore Organic stall in the Milk Market on Saturdays.
Kale, Cheddar and Tomato Frittata
Serves one hungry gardener or two for a snack
I snaffled some of this lovely leaf for myself and made one of my favourite things; a frittata or an omelette in other words. It's fast and easy, like a cheap date.
You will need
3 eggs, I use duck here
Cheddar - Effin mature if possible
Tomatoes, Irish if you can get them now
1. Wash and wilt the kale in a pot for about 3-5 minutes, pour off any excess water
2. In a small frying pan, fry the tomatoes, halved for a few minutes in a little olive oil, sprinkle on the cooked kale and pour over the eggs which you've lightly beaten together, add salt and pepper if you like, sprinkle over the cheddar
3. Cook on the hob for about five minutes until it starts to puff up, then have your grill turned on and fire the pan under it for a few more minutes to slightly brown the top.
Devour in minutes by yourself, or share it with someone. My teenage son instinctively turned his half into a burger, as you do