I didn’t actually ask the waiter that, because I knew there were would be kale on my pizza. I ordered it anyway.
So, as I munch a slice of vegan kale mushroom pizza— which tastes better than it sounds, at least it isn’t gluten free—I ponder the strange relationship I have with this tenacious vegetable.
I kind of hate the 90’s nutritionist who decided this tough, stringy, bitter leaf was a grand way to pump up iron, calcium, fiber, and some other important minerals, like spinach, only better, so the health blogs write— and besides, no one every gets E. coli from kale, do they?
At one point, my husband ate kale smoothies for days, then got diverticulitis and blamed the kale. You know, that logic where A, and B, so therefore C. Now he says he is preserving the health of his gut by avoiding kale, unless I sneak it in without him knowing. I do, because, well, green stuff.
Sometimes I love it, eating bowls of massaged kale leaves with gusto, or polishing off an expensive bag of kale chips smothered in ground sunflower seeds, oil, and salt. Yum. I throw a handful in a nice minestrone, and sometimes green up our morning smoothies with a leaf or two. And, order in up on pizza. Not bad, actually, crispy.
The only vegetable that grows with stubborn resilience in my tiny potted garden is, you guessed it, kale. I think there may be a plant or two out there that is older than my dog. I just keep yanking off leaves and the ever present kale pops out another leaf, no matter how many slugs or birds yank chunks away. I wonder if kale will be the post apocalyptic veg of choice. Little ground roasted cockroach on your artisanal kale chips, my dear?
I searched kale recipes on Elephant Journal, and the most popular did not include the word kale until the end — starting with the words ‘vegan’ and ‘kale’ is death to a recipe apparently. It’s like a nice mom offering you an ugly casserole, with a shrug saying, “Well, at least it’s healthy!” The most popular recipes start with the word, “Delicious” and “Quinoa”. That made my husband laugh— “Really?” He shook his head, “How can anyone use the word delicious and kale in the same breath? Is that like saying “Arnold Schwarzennegar” and ‘tender” in the same sentence?”
Sorry, I shuddered a little bit too. Back to kale.
Indulging in a $7 dollar bag of kale chips hurts my heart, so I have decided to give making my own kale chips a try. I buy a bunch of organic kale at the neighborhood co op, since I only have about 10 holey leaves out in my winter garden. I pick up bulk sunflower seeds, almond meal, olive oil, garlic and salt. That’s it. Massage those leaves with all the strength I can muster, dust with the seeds, nuts, garlic, salt, (grind up the seeds with the garlic and salt) roast 40 minutes at 325, and voila, chips! Ok, that’s stretching it. Crunchy slightly nutty leaves! Not bad. And I only spent about $10.00. Upside, this pan of roasted vegetable matter will last 2-3 days.
I will eat all of it to protect my husband from diverticulitis. I’m just that kind of gal.