I grow dark and leafy Tuscan Kale, not because it is a trendy "superfood", but because it is an easy-to-grow and productive plant to have in a vegetable garden (and I don't want to pay "superfood" prices for a bunch of it at the shops either ;)
Tuscan Kale growing in my veggie patch.
This distinctive member of the Brassica family, with crinkled and very dark green (almost black) leaves, is believed to have originated in Tuscany. Hence the Italian translation of its other commonly recognised name, Cavolo Nero, as "black cabbage".
Tiny seedlings of Tuscan Kale grow into tall, sculptural plants. I grow this kale towards the back of my veggie garden as it needs space to be tall and for its long, crinkled leaves, to arch outwards. It provides some shade too, as the weather warms up, for plants growing nearby.
Tuscan Kale needs room to grow.
The white cabbage butterfly do like to lay their eggs on Tuscan Kale as they do many other Brassicas. I simply check underneath the leaves for caterpillars and remove them if I find them. The magpies that visit our garden love a free caterpillar or two!
Tuscan Kale is very nutritious and delicious. It's easy to pick just a few leaves, as you would a pick-again lettuce, and use them in cooking. I favour the smaller, tender leaves. You just have to make sure you cut out the tough, central vein from each leaf before chopping or shredding. I like to add Tuscan Kale to salads, omelettes and quiches. I mix chopped kale into fresh ricotta, as I would spinach, to make a filling for puff pastry triangles. Kale chips and green smoothies are pretty trendy too.
If you don't already grow Tuscan Kale, I hope you will give it a try. It's very easy to grow, very versatile to cook with and very delicious to eat.