In Season West Coast: Black Kale

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Like heirloom tomatoes and other farmer's market specialty produce, once you've tried black kale, you might not ever want to go back to the more conventional supermarket variety.

Black Kale, also known as Tuscan Kale, Dinosaur Kale, Lacinato Kale, and my favorite, the exotic sounding Cavalo Nero, is a member of the cabbage family. Like mustard greens, collards and mizuma, it is considered a winter green with a season running from late fall through February or so. Black kale's crinkly leaves are dark greenish-purple, almost black in color, they are narrower in shape than regular kale and the stems tend to be a bit thinner. Once cooked, the color darkens even further. It has a chewy texture and a bit of a rich, peppery flavor.

It's great added to soups or pasta, or it can be blanched and then sautéed with olive oil and garlic for a simple and healthy side dish. It works well with sweet potatoes, winter squashes, and cauliflower as well as with hearty grains such as arborio rice or farro.

For more ideas on how to prepare black kale, check out some of these recipes.

Black Kale Bruschetta
Slow Cooked Cavalo Nero
Black Kale Salad with Cannelini Beans
Black Kale with Plum Tomatoes
Farfalle with Cavalo Nero