Tuscan Kale

Tuscan Kale, photo from The Slow Cook

Tuscan Kale, photo from The Slow Cook

Tuscan Kale (aka Nero di Tuscana, Lacinato, Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, cavolo nero, flat back cabbage, black Italian palm, and Dinosaur Kale, and, of course, the scientific name Brassica oleracea) may hold the record for Vegetable with the Most Names. Whatever you call it, unlike most Things that are Good for You, it is delicious.
According Dr. Simon Weil’s website, “a cup provides more than 100 percent of the daily value (DV) of vitamins K and A, and 88 percent of the DV for vitamin C. Like other members of the brassica family such as cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts, kale is a rich source of organosulfur compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention.”
Don’t let that scare you off. Unlike many of its brassica cousins, Tuscan kale has a mild flavor and succulent texture: less chewy than Scotch or Red Russian Kale, more tooth than (the visually similar, but unrelated) flimsy Swiss Chard.
You can use it in salad, in stir-fry, dried as chips, or steamed. My favorite is lightly steamed and sprinkled with a half and half mixture of vinegar and soy sauce with just a dot of sweetener: not enough for a sweet and sour taste, just enough sugar, honey, or agave syrup to take the edge off the vinegar.
It’s also easy to grow: start it in early Spring or Fall in rich garden soil. Water well and hose off any aphids that stop by to feast. Harvest by cutting off the bottom leaves and come back a few days later for more. You’ll soon see where the “Palm Tree Kale” name comes from. The “Black Kale” name becomes evident in Winter, when the leaves turn such a dark green as to almost look black. If your winters are severe, mulch your plants deeply with straw or use a plastic cover.
Lance Leaf, Lacinato, and flat back make sense: they come from the long, narrow leaf shape. Nero di Tuscana, Italian kale, and Tuscan come from the area of origin. Anybody have any idea where the name “Dinosaur Kale” comes from?

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