Some trends can be silly. You’ve had some clothing or a hairdo that you would just prefer to never see again — and you are so very happy Facebook wasn’t around when you indulged.
Other trends are significant and even good for you. Kale is one of those. All of a sudden, kale is popping up everywhere. In restaurants, in grocery stores and the farmers markets, and on book shelves. If you go to Amazon and search for “kale” there are 123 hits today, with certainly more tomorrow. And most of these books are recent, published just in the last year.
So, if want to find excellent kale recipes, maybe make your own kale chips because the Whole Foods price reminds you of gold and silver, where do you turn? Which of those new kale cookbooks really gives you a bevy of wonderful recipes that you will enjoy and return to?
I’m intrigued by Let Them Eat Kale! by Julia Mueller from Skyhorse Publishing. A first, and a minor reason, is that I do believe Marie Antoinette unfortunately was misquoted. Again, that was a before-Facebook event so we’ll never know.
What we do know is that author Julia Mueller has worked with dedication to fashion an array of recipes, from breakfast to dinner’s main dishes, that employ kale as a key ingredient. Sometimes as the dominant ingredient, sometimes simply as an addition to integrate the nutritional values that make kale such a useful food.
In her Introduction, Julia presents kale from multiple aspects, explaining how that very basic and bitter taste can infiltrate into your culinary life. Julia’s a convert, preferring kale to other greens in her salads. If you read my review of Taste, you know that there are genetic issues at play here: while humans normally avoid bitter foods, we have evolved to go for the healthy ones. And kale, as Julia points out, is very healthy. Kale is a nutrient-dense superfood packed with vitamins and minerals. The varieties of kale and the varieties of ways to cook it are all presented by Julia in few key pages.
Then it is time for the recipe chapters. Here they are with some representatives of Julia’s clever yet practical recipe development:
- Breakfast: Chorizo, Potato and Kale Hash; Peach and Kale Stem Smoothie; Poached Egg over Sautéed Kale
- Appetizers, Side Dishes and Snacks: Vegan Cheese Kale Chips; Cheddar Kale Skillet Cornbread; Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers; Zesty Kale Slaw
- Salads: Fall Harvest Kale Salad with Cinnamon-Orange Dressing; Roasted Beet and Fig Massaged Kale Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette
- Soups, Stews and Chilis: Butternut Squash and Kale Chili; Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Soup; Sausage, Fennel and Kale Soup
- Main Dishes: Eggplant, Kale and Chickpea Tacos with Charmoula Sauce; Cauliflower and Kale Yellow Curry; Sautéed Shrimp and Kale Tacos with Pineapple, Corn, and Kale Salsa
- Sauces, Salsa, and Spreads: Roasted Garlic Kale Hummus; White Bean Kale Dip; Chimichurri Sauce
To gauge this book, it’s important to see the spectrum of recipes here. Some are old food friends with kale just woven into the mix to modify the flavor, texture and nutritional values, like the Southwestern Bell Peppers. Some recipes — the Eggplant, Kale and Chickpea Tacos, for example — display Julia’s creative instincts. You’ll find many totally new dishes here that will entice you to experiment in your kitchen.
And, thankfully, there is no Dessert chapter here with silly Kale Brownies. Julia displays some serious common sense along with her sparkling creativity.
It’s impossible to thumb through this book and not stop several times to ponder a recipe. A major reason for that is the accompanying photos. Each recipe gets a lovely full page close up shot of the dish. And, in a bright book design by Skyhorse Publishing, the photos extend all the way to the edge of the page. There are no photo margins and the effect is just what you need: the photos seem to pour out beyond the page, inviting you to look twice and hopefully begin cooking.
Suzen and I began with kale salads a couple of years, just one of those culinary accidents that happen. For her corporate team building events at Cooking by the Book, Suzen introduced kale salad onto the menu and the effect was pretty dramatic: we’ve had corporate lawyers coming back into the kitchen asking for seconds. Now, with Let Them Eat Kale! we have a wonderful array of salads and beyond to treat our customers and ourselves.
Treat yourself. Get on the kale bandwagon and use Let Them Eat Kale! as your guide.