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What’s Fresh in October? Oh Kale Yeah!

Oh kale yeah!

This nutrient-packed super veggie is perfect for growing, eating and sharing this time of year.

Story by Maddie Bane

Although Halloween might be the most popular holiday in October, National Kale Day should be a close second. The holiday is observed on the first Wednesday of October, but don’t let that stop you from celebrating all of the benefits that this hearty green has to offer all month long. This powerhouse vegetable thrives and grows best in the fall and early winter. The colder temperatures result in better texture and flavor. Kale is full of numerous vitamins and provides several health benefits that you might not get from other leafy greens, such as spinach or lettuce. It can be used for a plethora of things in the kitchen.

A nutritional superstar

Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It’s loaded with antioxidants, calcium, vitamin K and vitamin C. In fact, it actually has more vitamin C than an orange. It’s also been known to help lower cholesterol and is a great source of fiber.

When to grow them

The best time to plant kale seeds is six to eight weeks before the first fall frost. On average, Hilton Head Island’s first fall frost occurs around Nov. 29. Sometime between Oct. 4 and Oct. 18 would be an ideal time to plant the seeds, which you’ll want to do half of an inch deep into well-drained, light soil. The plant does well in full sun but can have partial shade. Be sure to water well. Leaves are ready to pick once they are about the size of your hand.

Where to get them

You’ll find fresh kale at local grocery stores including Whole Foods, Publix, Kroger and Harris Teeter. Find locally grown kale at the Hilton Head Farmers Market from vendor Ebenezer Greens.

Local flavor

The Salty Dog Cafe: Seaside Veggie Noodle Bowl
Sauteed kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, red cabbage and carrots simmered in Chef Herb’s signature Old Bay broth and served with udon-style noodles. $14.

Poseidon: Baby Kale Caesar Salad
Baby kale, red & yellow grape tomatoes, imported parmesan cheese and croutons. $10

Red Fish: Shrimp and Grits
Local shrimp, Boursin stone-ground grits, sauteed kale, fried okra and chorizo gravy. $27

Full stem ahead

There are endless possibilities of how you can use kale leaves–pastas, salads, smoothies, juices, or even raw. But did you know that the fiber-filled stems are just as diverse? Once blanched, you can make them into a pesto, blend them into juices and smoothies, or even pickle them for a tasty snack.



LOCAL Life Test Kitchen – Roasted eggplant with kale and pine nuts

Ingredients

2 large eggplant

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 cups kale, chopped, stems removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

3/4 cup pine nuts

Directions [1] Heat oven to 420 degrees. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise, lay face up on a greased baking sheet, and cut slits along the flesh. [2] Place garlic inside the slits, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, brushing on more olive oil halfway through. [3] For the topping, toast pine nuts until golden brown, and toss kale into olive oil and lemon juice until soft. Serve over eggplant.


LOCAL Life Test Kitchen – Air-fried kale chips

Ingredients

6 cups chopped kale, stems removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions [1] Mix kale with olive oil in a large bowl. Then add garlic powder, salt, onion powder, and black pepper until evenly coated. [2] Cook a single layer of kale leaves for six minutes at 360 degrees. Shake the basket around in order to move the leaves, then cook for two more minutes. [3] Place kale chips on baking sheet to cool. Repeat these steps with the remaining kale, and enjoy.


LOCAL Life Test Kitchen – Tomato, kale and garlic spaghetti

Ingredients

1 cup kale, cut into strips, stems removed

8 ounces spaghetti

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 gloves garlic, minced

6 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup parmesan

Salt and pepper, to taste

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Directions [1] Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Once cooked, drain the water, but leave 1/2 cup in the pot with the pasta removed. [2] In a pan, add olive oil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, kale, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until tomatoes and kale are soft. [3] Add into pasta and remaining pasta water and toss to combine. When serving, garnish with parmesan cheese.