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Hometown Foodie: Which Kale Will Be The Winner?

#foodie-all – by Ellen Britt.

Today I am completing yet another task in my quest to become a Plant Based Certified Professional through Rouxbe Culinary School. This is a task designed to hone your sensory tasting skills using fresh kale so it should be interesting!

I wrote about this assignment recently here on Hometown Foodie in a column titled Food For Thought, but I’ll quickly recap the steps here and I encourage you to consider doing this little food experiment as well:

One – after washing and drying the kale and removing the thick central stem, cutting it up and then eating a piece of it raw…

Two – combining the raw kale with ripe avocado flesh and massaging the avocado into the kale…

Three – combining the raw chopped kale with a simple dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

After preparing the kale these three ways, the instructions are to write out my thoughts on the taste and the texture of each of the three kale preparations, making sure you are not saying obvious things like “it tastes lemony or it tastes salty.” 

So here are my results:

One – The raw kale experience: The texture of the kale was crisp initially and rather leathery. Even a lot of chewing didn’t decrease the coarseness of the plant material. The taste was initially a little sour, sort of like raw sorrel, and not unpleasant. This changed over to just a hint of bitterness as I continued to chew combined with a vegetal raw green taste.

Two – The avocado massaged kale experience: The texture was definitely less leathery and was a bit softer and oily due to massaging in the avocado. The avocado initially overpowered the kale and I didn’t get any of those sour sorrel or bitter notes I experienced with the raw leaf. My taste impression was one of a fatty savoriness, especially as I continued to chew, but to my surprise, the avocado seemed to mask any distinctive taste notes coming from the kale. 

Three – The lemon and olive oil experience: The crisp texture of the leaf was maintained, but the addition of the fat and the acid lemon juice seemed to attenuate the leathery texture without really softening the leaves. The lemon/olive oil/salt and pepper dressing brought out those initial bright pleasant sour notes in the leaves that I experienced with the raw kale. As I continued to chew, these notes transformed into a really pleasant savory earthiness. 

So, who knew that describing the texture and taste of something could be so challenging!! I am going to submit this for evaluation from my chef instructor and will let you know what the chef says. Try it yourself with any food you prepare next. You may be surprised at your results. Let’s eat y’all…!