Red Ruskie, Dino and Curly: Three Kale Cousins

In the past couple weeks I have enjoyed a variety of kale from my CSA, specifically Russian, dinosaur and curly kale. Kale or borecole – a member of the brassica vegetable family – is a nutritionally rich and underutilized veggie. Commonly used through the Middle Ages in Europe it disappeared from our food radar, but it is making a comeback once again as people learn about the nutritional punch that it packs.  Best steamed, not to lose too much nutrients, kale is an outstanding antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cancer-preventing food that is rich in fiber and omega-3.   The tough stems of kale are often removed before cooking, though there is one particular variety I enjoy in the raw!

From left to right Russian, Dinosaur and Curly Kale. Note the purple reddish veins of Ruskie, the flatter leaves of Dino, and Curly who is named after her most distinctive feature.

Red Ruskie, is the most delicate of the kale varieties, the raw cousin.

Did you ever think of the Russians as delicate? The name’s saving grace?  Red, probably from the colored veins of the leaves.

I often use Russian kale for quick salads, (removing the stems first), or will grab a leaf while on the go.

Dinosaur kale.  When I think of dinosaur I imagine ancient tough strong leathery.  A perfect image for this kale!  The tough middle cousin, Dino – also known as Tuscan, Italian, or Lacatino kale) – has flat dark green embossed leaves.  The darkness of the green lends it a dark taste raw – I rarely sample it that way.  It still is a favorite snack of mine as the flat leaf screams veggie chips!

Copied from a friend’s recent fb post: “Kale Chips anyone? Easy!!
You’ll need organic kale (clean & then dry well). Remove all large stems. Spread on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with your favorite oil bit, pinches of sea salt and bake @ 275 degrees F for 30 mins then done! I topped this with chili sesame oil .. crispy & spicy 😉
(I’ve done this raw too by baking at a lower temp ie 105 -110 degrees F for 6 hrs roughly) Another option is to sprinkle Green Za’atar (its in the International section at your food store) on the chips for a more intense & amazing flavor.”

Finally, Curly or Scotts kale, appropriately named after their crinkled leaves.  I typically steam this veggie before I use, even in a salad.  Unlike dinosaur and Russian kale I have been steaming  the curly variety for several years.  It is great means of adding texture to a dish – a mess of crinkled dark green veggie.