954. That’s how many farms harvested kale to sell in 2007… across the entire United States. That sounds a little low compared to the current demand, doesn’t it? By 2012, that number more than doubled as 2,500 farms grew the superfood commercially. Today, kale farmers sometimes have difficulty finding enough kale seeds to plant!
And kale isn’t the only leafy green more farms have been producing since 2007. Slightly more farms have started harvesting collards, spinach and mustard greens, and leaf lettuce went from being produced at 2,891 farms in 2007 to over 4,000 in 2012. Nutrition experts have been telling us to eat dark, leafy greens, and we’ve been listening.
I first ate kale when it came to me in a CSA box in 2009. “What do you do with kale?” I wondered. I tried to sauté it and use it as a topping for baked potatoes. One problem. Kale leaves can be quite rough, and when I sautéed them in a nonstick pan without doing anything to soften the kale first, the result was like sautéing steel wool! The kale scrubbed the nonstick coating from my pan.
Maybe the defect was in the pan, but since then I have been careful to “massage” kale to soften it before adding it to any dish! I now have a favorite kale and blue cheese salad, I use my food dehydrator to make crunchy kale chips, and I fearlessly add kale to skillet dishes. And I am a huge fan of the Emerald Kale Salad Wolff’s chef Chuck Smith makes for the spring and summer menu.
A few summers ago, a friend of mine planted an abundance of dinosaur kale, collard greens, arugula, mustard greens and rainbow chard. On summer mornings, she invited me to come harvest the greens. I discovered more recipes, like arugula pesto, mustard green pesto, chard stem gratin (the best savory dish in all the world), and meatless “meatballs” made with leafy greens.
And if I was ever stuck for recipes, I could have just taken a quick tour through the Wolff’s recipe archive because the Wolff family and staff clearly love their leaves. Look through our slideshow above and try some of the 20 recipes from our archives today! Let us know your favorites!