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Something Different
Week of: September 5, 2011
Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Kale and Peaches Marry Summer with Fall

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Kale comes in several varieties. Each has its own particular flavor and texture. Curly kale, found at most supermarkets, has large, dark green leaves with ruffled edges. Often used as decoration edging a salad bar, it can be sweet and tender or bitter and tough, depending on how it is cooked.

Americans shun bitterness. We do not like too much texture in our vegetables, either. To help you like kale, this recipe brings out the sweet tenderness in this versatile, powerhouse vegetable. Kale is a non-dairy source of calcium and is chock full of carotenoids and other cancer-protective substances.

Supermarkets, farmers' markets and specialty food stores feature kale with many other names – Tuscan, lacinato, cavolo nero (black cabbage), dinosaur or dino kale. Its plume-shaped blue- or black-green leaves have a puckered surface that some people think looks like dinosaur skin. Slowly braised, lacinato kale is mild and meltingly tender but this takes time and patience.

Russian kale, with almost floppy leaves, purple-red stems and mild flavor, is the perfect beginner's kale. But you seldom find it outside farmers' markets, and it cooks down so much two people can comfortably consume two bunches.

To turn reasonably priced curly kale into a mild and tender side dish, this recipe includes the steps that get rid of the toughest parts and mellow kale's flavor. To finish, sauté the kale with apple juice, and serve topped with tart-sweet sliced peaches and toasted walnuts. The result is a perfect marriage of summer sweetness and fall flavors.

Kale with Peaches and Walnuts
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Kale with Peaches and Walnuts

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 pounds curly kale (about 12 cups lightly packed, washed and chopped per directions below)
  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 peach, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring large pot of water to a boil.

Spread nuts in pie pan or on baking sheet. Roast for 5 minutes. Stir and bake 3 minutes longer. Immediately transfer nuts to plate to cool, and set aside.

To remove hard stem from leafy part of the kale, hold leaf in one hand, upside down and closed like a book. Pull center stalk away from leaf and down. Tear stemmed leaves into 2- to 3-inch pieces; there should be about 12-14 lightly packed cups. Add kale to pot of water, pushing it down with wooden spoon. Cook until kale is bright green and crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook. With slotted spoon, transfer kale to colander and set under cold running water to cool. Save as much cooking water as desired, to drink and use in soups. It will keep 3 days in refrigerator, 2 months frozen.

A handful at a time, squeeze most of moisture from kale. To chop kale, place clumps on cutting board and cut crosswise into thin slices.

Heat oil in heavy, medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook until limp and translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add kale, pulling it apart into shreds. Add apple juice, cayenne, salt and black pepper to taste. Stir occasionally, for 5-6 minutes, or until kale is cooked to your taste and most liquid has evaporated. Spoon kale into shallow, wide serving bowl. Sprinkle on nuts and arrange peaches over kale. Serve hot or lukewarm.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 220 calories, 10 g fat (1 g sat fat), 31 g carbohydrates,
8 g protein, 5 g fiber 90 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

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The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $100 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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