Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kale Sprouts

                                                                                                                                           (photo credit: Tozer Seeds)


We’ve all heard or read a lot about kale or Brussels sprouts and how good they are for you. I’m just as guilty for the word count on these two veg. Now imagine that there could be a love child of these two ultra popular brassicas. It’s as if someone thought, “Hey, kale and Brussels sprouts are really hot. What if we crossbreed them?” What you would get is the kale sprout. But it took 15 years of hybrid research, so that they have arrived at the peak of kale and Brussels sprouts popularity is sheer luck.  It was all the hard work of Tozer Seeds in England.
Kale Sprouts are a cross between red Russian kale and Brussels sprouts and like Brussels sprouts, they grow on tall, upright plants. One grower remarked that kale sprouts can be tricky to grow and that they take twice as long to mature than most other crops.
Now it gets a little confusing.
In England, Tozer Seeds sells their hybrid under the trademarked name of “Kalettes.” In the United States, the seeds are marketed as “Flower Sprouts.” In grocery stores they are sold labeled as “Lollipop Sprouts,”  “Lollipop Kale,” or “Kale Sprouts,” which is how they are sold at Trader Joe’s where I found them.  But they’re all the same thing.
If you are someone who is put off by kale or Brussels sprouts for a personal reason, you will probably prefer Kale Sprouts.  They are milder in flavor than either of the “parent” plants and there is no bad way to cook them.
Since they are tender, they can be chopped and served raw in a salad, perhaps with some seasonal orange segments (Cara Cara anyone?), sliced red onion, and a toasted nut of your choice. And go ahead and add a little cheese, too. Roasting kale sprouts takes no time: slice them in half lengthwise, toss them with some olive oil, salt and ground black pepper, spread them onto a baking sheet and roast them a 425 degree oven for about 5 minutes until slightly charred and crispy.
Kale sprouts can be blanched then sautéed, alone or mixed with other vegetables. And if you are interested in the numbers, 3 ½ ounces of kale sprouts contain twice the amount of vitamin B6 and twice the vitamin C of a similar amount of Brussels sprouts. They are also high in vitamin E.
The other night I sautéed some kale sprouts and served them over salmon along with Cheddar potato cakes. Wonderful.

Sautéed Kale Sprouts with Pancetta and Lemon
For two servings
I used prepackaged diced pancetta. You could also use diced bacon or prociutto, too. Vegetarians, you can omit the tasty meat part.

4 ounces kale sprouts
2 Tablespoons diced pancetta
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
olive oil, for cooking
salt and ground black pepper
juice of half a lemon
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, optional

1. Rinse the kale sprouts in a colander under cold water and let drain. Trim off the bottom of the sprouts and set aside.
2. Place a sauté pan filled with ½ “ of lightly salted water onto the stove over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, add the sprouts, cover and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and drain the kale sprouts into a colander. Refresh the sprouts under cold running water until cool. Set aside.
3. Return the sauté pan to the stove over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, swirl in about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook the pancetta (or bacon) until it is brown and crispy. Reduce the heat and add the garlic and hot pepper flakes to the pan and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. (Since the pan is hot, watch the garlic so it doesn’t brown or burn. You might need to pull he pan off the heat). When the garlic is fragrant, return the kale sprouts to the pan, season with salt and ground black pepper, and stir together. Right before serving add the lemon juice, and the butter, mixing everything together. Easy. Simple. Delicious.
(When I served the kale sprouts with the salmon, I added a little extra olive oil so that the liquid in the pan with the sprouts became a simple sauce to spoon over the fish).

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