My over-wintered kale decided it was time to produce seeds in March. We had unusually warm weather in February and March which triggered the kale clock to get on with it and produce the next generation. It bolted, forming single towering stalks with flowers. Normally when vegetable greens bolt they become tough and bitter, good fodder for the compost pile but not good eating. However, the flowers looked so inviting that I pinched off a bud cluster and popped it in my mouth. The bud cluster was mild and sweet and tender! Almost like young broccoli, but milder and much sweeter. I ventured further down the stalk, breaking off pieces, trying them for tenderness and taste. The thin flowering stalks were fine, turning tough only when the stalk was approaching 3/4 inch in diameter. Even the leaves coming off the stalk were not bitter.
I stopped grazing. Using kitchen shears, I cut all the flowering stalks off about a foot down, took them to the kitchen and then looked for recipes. My take on a stir-fry type recipe follows at the end of this post. But first let me tell you what has happened since March.
The first flowers went for food. A few days later more flowering stalks shot out the sides of the plants, at leaf junctions. These plants are determined to make seeds. A lucky genetic imperative for the garden harvester. Also lucky that the weather turned as cold and wet as a typical Spring here on Puget Sound. I think the continuing cool temperatures are keeping the kale sweet and tender. And the plants continue to produce flowers, which I try to pick before the buds open. I don’t know how long this lucky harvest will last. When warmer weather arrives (soon, I hope) will the kale buds become bitter? Alas, the kale will have to go in mid May anyway, when the summer crops need planting.
Here’s a quick recipe for the kale flowers. Chop the stalks to about 2 inches in length, but keeping the flower buds intact. If the stalk resists the knife, it’s tough, so keep cutting up the stalk until you get to an easy-to-cut area. Discard the tough stalks.
Stir Fried Kale Flowers
- 2 T. canola oil
- 1 T. peanut oil
- 2-10 cloves garlic, depending on how much you like garlic. I used 10.
- 4-6 C. Kale blossoms, leaves and tender stalks. Cut stalks into 2 inch pieces, leave blossom stalks 4-6 inches long.
- 1 C. leeks, chopped into 2 inch pieces
- glug of soy sauce, what, about 1-2 tablespoons
- 1-3 t. ground ginger (or more, depending..)
- pinch or so of red pepper flakes
- cornstarch slurry to thicken sauce (about 1 tbs. cornstarch in 2 tbs. cold water
- Heat oils in hot pan.
- Add garlic, stir around for about 2 minutes.
- Add ginger, red pepper flakes and soy sauce. Stir and then add the kale.
- Stir the kale until bright green and wilted
- Add water and leeks.
- Cover pan and let steam for 3-5 minutes, until green leek parts are tender.
- Pour in cornstarch slurry to thicken.
- Serve with rice.