Kale was first cultivated from wild varieties by the Greeks and Romans and later spread throughout Europe, where the leaves were called “coles,” and then to the British Isles. From there it was transported to the Americas. The first time it was recorded in the U.S. was in 1669, referred to as “colewarts.”
Thriving even in frost, kale is an easy-to-grow green that keeps on giving: cut the smaller, paler green leaves to anchor or mix into fresh garden salad; use the larger, dark greens for stir-fries, pizza topping, or soup, while the plant keeps right on growing.
One variety is known as dinosaur kale in Tuscan regions for its glossy, crinkly, green-to-violet-colored leaves. Kale has a relatively short life in terms of crispness, so it’s best to use within a few days of harvesting.
Kale eases lung congestion and is beneficial to the stomach, liver and immune system. It contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from macular degeneration and Kale is an excellent source of calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, and chlorophyll.