It is rare that I actually come across kale in Italy. And for years, when I did encounter it, I didn’t even realize that it was kale. In this country, kale is called “cavolo nero.” Therefore, when I would even dare to imagine that I actually spied a few stalks of this nutrient rich vegetable, I was immediately corrected by grocers, farmers and shoppers alike that no, its not “kale” that I had in my hand, it’s “black cabbage.” Sometimes I would buy it, sometimes I wouldn’t. Sometimes I would juice it, sometimes I wouldn’t. I wasn’t sure how to cook it because I had never even heard of black cabbage. This went on for far too long until one day, at my local organic grocer’s, a fellow American (I assume she was studying abroad here in Rome) saw the big heap of wilting black cabbage and screamed to her friend in a heavy long island accent “oh my gawd, they have kale here! Ahhhh!” It was then that I put two and two together and began my extensive search and later acquisition of all the Italian “cavolo nero” I could get my hands on.
Now, don’t ask me if it is Curly kale or Dinosaur kale, Lacianto kale or Russian kale because I have no idea! (Although my suspicions lead me to believe that it is, in fact, Dinosaur kale.) But, the mere fact that IT. IS. KALE. is enough for me.
Kale season begins in Italy towards the beginning of November and lasts through April. The best kale that I have found is at the Circo Massimo farmer’s market in open only on the weekends: https://circusmaximumfarmersmarket.wordpress.com
Otherwise, during the winter months, kale normally comes in weekly Zolle deliveries: http://www.zolle.it/web/
And once in a while, when the fates align, my favorite organic supermarket, Natura Si, offers kale as part of its produce selection:
The time of year for kale production has finally begun yet again in Italy and this weekend, I purchased my first bunch.
In order to kick-off kale season, I made one of my all-time favorite snacks: kale chips!
I have an Excalibur dehydrator and I rarely find excuses to use it so I thought that it would be an appropriate moment to dust it off and get it rumbling.
“Cheesy” Kale Chips
- 1 bunch of kale
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
- Wash the kale, remove the stems and rip into the desired “chip” sized pieces.
- Massage the kale with the olive oil for a few minutes
- Add the nutritional yeast and salt and mix until each piece of kale is evenly covered.
- Place in the dehydrator at 135 for 3-5 hours.
*Kale chips can easily be made in the oven, with the gas on very low for number of hours (but dehydrating keeps all of kale’s mega-nutrients intact.)