From The Organic Kitchen Garden 2015 wall calendar by Ann Lovejoy — Crisp, crunchy, and flavorful, cool-season greens have been winter staples for centuries. With the protection of cold frames or plastic tunnels, kale, chard, and cabbage can be harvested all winter, even in the snow. For variety and good looks, plant rainbow chard or Bright Lights Swiss chard, both of which produce vividly colorful stems in shades of raspberry, coral, peach, and salmon. The crinkled foliage holds up well into the cooler months and can be sautéed, steamed, or stir-fried.
Kale comes in many colors, textures, and flavors, from the intensely ruffled Blue Siberian to the frilly crimson Chidori, which tastes sweetest when touched by frost. Deep magenta Redbor has curly-edged leaves that look and taste terrific in raw salads and cook in just a few minutes. White Russian kale has lacy foliage with white veining and is also most delicious after a light frost. Red Russian, deep green with pink and red edging, adds a tender crunch to salads. Most popular with kids, crinkled Black Tuscan kale is an exceptionally flavorful cross between kale and cabbage.
Late-season cabbages are excellent keepers and can be harvested all winter in mild climates. For a harvest featuring the greatest nutritional benefit and variety of flavors, plant a colorful rainbow of cabbages, from pale green quilted Savoy and soft blue Charmant to red Ruby Ball and purple Primero.
Like all greens, the cabbage and kale clan appreciates rich, open-textured, and welldrained soil. They need full morning sun and tolerate some afternoon shade. Spring crops may be started as soon as the ground can be worked. Improve soil with plenty of compost, and sidedress with kelp meal and soy or cottonseed meal for a spring booster. For the quickest crop, plant hardened-off seedlings or starts in raised beds that will warm up in early spring. To keep crops coming, plant short rows every three weeks until June. Fall crops may be started in July or August, and those for winter harvest can be planted through September in most areas.
Pasta with Kale and Sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers in oil
12 ounces spicy Italian chicken sausage, chopped
2 cups finely chopped kale
8 ounces brown or button mushrooms, sliced
3 cups (28 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
12 ounces fresh linguine or wide noodles
Combine oil, onion, garlic, and salt over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add peppers, sausage, kale, and mushrooms, cover pan, and cook for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cook pasta according to package directions while sauce simmers. Drain pasta and serve with sauce. Serves 4.
Black Tuscan Kale Salad with Curry Dressing
Lively with curry spices and fresh lime juice, this salad makes a satisfying vegetarian entrée.
3 cups Black Tuscan kale, stemmed and cut into ribbons
3 cups baby spinach
4 chopped red, orange, or yellow
½ cup chopped red onion
1 Cara Cara orange, peeled, sectioned, and chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained
¼ cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 cup Curry Dressing (below)
In a bowl, combine all ingredients and gently toss. Serves 4–6.
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1–2 teaspoons curry powder
1–2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, starting with smaller amounts and adjusting seasoning to taste. Makes about 1 cup.
Roast a quartered head of cabbage until tender (10–15 minutes), drizzle with garlic infused olive oil, and garnish with toasted walnuts and sea salt.
With more than 20 books to her credit, award-winning author Ann Lovejoy is one of the country’s leading experts on sustainable garden design and techniques. A popular cooking and gardening columnist for numerous national and regional publications, Lovejoy is fully committed to sustainable agriculture and is active in many community projects. For more information, please visit her blog.