Kale and garlic: A little bit of winter leftovers

Lately, in garden club, students have been noticing the prehistoric-looking overwintered kale plants and little green stalks of garlic sprouting around the garden.  We planted the garlic  with the students last fall, and students are finally getting the opportunity to see it grow (and taste it’s garlicky leaves).  Students have also been learning to differentiate kale and chard from the green lettuces we’ve been planting lately. As we’ve been thinking about garlic and kale lately, we thought we would share a little history and a recipe with you.

Garlic, in one form or another, has been used for hundreds, even thousands of years. Paintings and clay sculptures of the superfood have been discovered as far back as the Egyptian tombs, dating 3200 BC.  The Greeks and Romans also shared the Egyptians’ uses of garlic as a cure for common aliments, treating dog bites, repelling insects, as well as increasing stamina, strength and courage.

During WWII British and Russian armies used diluted garlic solutions as a replacement for penicillin and sulfa to help kill bacteria stricken infections. Today the healing uses are implemented by many to rid the body of toxins, regulate blood sugar metabolism, and stimulate blood circulation, the liver, and the nervous system. Meanwhile the widespread culinary use of garlic extends to the palates of cultures worldwide.

Kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, Brussels spouts, cauliflower and broccoli are all the same species of plant named Brassica oleracea. The clear distinctions between each of the vegetables we recognize today are a result of over two thousand years of selective propagation and cultivation. The result of the cabbage “head” for instance was instigated by successive generations preferring the vegetable’s tender leaves found clustered together in the top of the stem, eventually becoming so large that the cluster formed the whole plant.

The species is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe and until the Middle Ages was the primary green vegetable eaten in Europe.  It was commonly grown in the Scottish Islands and other colder regions because of its proved hardiness.  In fact, most houses had kale yards that would help protect the harvest from the extreme elements as well as storing kale preserved in barrels of salt.  The leafy variety of Brassica oleracea is still enjoyed to this day and can be paired with the ancient flavors of garlic in the recipe below.

Reference: www.veraveg.org/Veg History/

Kale Sautéed with Garlic

Serves 2-4


  • 4-6 large kale leaves
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter

Optional: ¼ red or yellow onion,

salt, pepper, other spices, vinegar, fresh or bottled lemon juice.

Rinse kale leaves, chop off and discard bottom 2 inches of stem. Rolling the leaves together, chop every 1-2 inches along the stem. Set aside. Peel and finely chop garlic. Warm a saucepan on medium adding oil or butter until it spreads evenly across the pan. Add garlic (and optional onions) and sauté 2 minutes. Add chopped kale.

(and optional vinegar or lemon juice) and sauté for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste, as well as other spices.

Thank to our Youth Grow Intern, Andryce Anderson for her diligent kale and garlic research.


1 Comment »

  1. Bob Woods said

    Sounds wonderful, I’m going to try it. I LOVE your blog. Keep up the good work !!!

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