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In Season: Kale

The Basics

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the supermarket. Rich in antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and vitamin C, it is also high in fiber and calcium, like other members of the cabbage family. Because autumn frosts give the hearty green such a deep sweetness, you'll want to eat it all winter long. Varieties to look for include curly kale and Tuscan kale (also called lacinato, cavolo nero, or dinosaur kale), which has darker, flatter leaves.

Buying and Storing

Choose deeply colored bunches with springy leaves. Small, tender leaves cook more quickly, but larger ones are great for braising. Store kale in a plastic bag in the coldest spot of your refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To Use

Discard the stems and center ribs before washing unless kale is young and very tender. Kale is the backbone of classic soups such as minestrone; it also pairs well with potatoes, white beans, pasta with cheese, or smoked meats like sausage or bacon. The green lends itself to a variety of preparations. Tuscan kale, in particular, turns meltingly tender when cooked long and slow. A quick saute with garlic and red-pepper flakes is great for weeknights, or toss torn leaves with olive oil and salt and bake for crispy kale "chips."

Recipes

Spicy Sauteed Kale with Lemon
Mashed Potato and Kale Cakes
Kale-and-Sausage Hand Pies
Chicken and Kale Casserole