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Sprouting Black Kale
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Sprouting Black kale grows in loose bundles and produces narrow blade-like leaves that are gently wrinkled. The stems lack the fibrous texture of the mature plant and are tender and sweet. They may be eaten like asparagus or baby broccoli. Its flavor is milder and sweeter than the larger Black kale leaves and is reminiscent of sweet peas with a nutty earthy finish. Small yellow flowers may develop when temperatures warm, and are entirely edible. Use the sweet crispy leaves and tender stems raw or lightly sautéed.
The season for Sprouting Black kale can vary, but typically occurs 4-6 weeks after the spring and fall harvests of the main kale crop.
Black kale is a cool season crop that is also commonly called Lacinato kale, Tuscan kale, Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, flat back cabbage, palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm. It is botanically classified as Brassica oleracea Acephala Group. After the main kale crop is harvested, the roots, stems and outer leaves are typically removed, but if left, a second crop of smaller kale heads will sprout. They develop from buds located in the bases of the older leaves and share similar characteristics but on a smaller scale. Sprouting Black kale is an underutilized culinary ingredient because it is rarely left to develop.
Like conventional kale, Sprouting Black kale is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
Sprouting Black kale may be used similarly to other kale varieties. In the sprouting form it is quite sturdy and lends itself particularly well to a hard char in cast iron or on the grill. It may be steamed, braised, stewed, fried, sautéed, or left completely raw. It is great in hardy soups which contain smoked meats, potatoes, beans or barley. Other flavor affinities include, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, red pepper flake, nutmeg, shallots, onion, tomato, sweet potatoes, cheddar cheese, Parmesan, cream, roasted meats, chorizo sausage, pancetta and chicken.
Black kale is an international hybrid and a prized Tuscan specialty native to the Mediterranean region. Rarely found growing in the wild, today it is cultivated world-wide and yields the sweetest of crops after the first frost. It tolerates full sun, but is best when grown in partial shade in fertile soils with good drainage. Increase in temperature after harvest of the main kale crop will induce plentiful flowers on the secondary sprouts. Sprouting Black kale is new to most culinary markets, but is fast becoming a chef favorite for its decorative appeal and complex flavor.
Recipes that include Sprouting Black Kale. One is easiest, three is harder.
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