After a brief hiatus, For The Love of Kale is back and with that I realized the other day that all of my features are women. And given this great article written in May, Real Men Eat Kale Too! , I felt it was time to feature a man who loves kale.
One of the things that’s so exciting to me about The Kale Project, is I’ve met a lot of interesting people and have been exposed to kale stories from around the world. This week’s feature is no exception: Rasmus, from Sweden and the vegetarian food blog, Vegologi reached out to The Kale Project about his kale hummus and without seeing a photo or a recipe, I had to know more (and it’s coming on the next Kale Monday!) So I’m proud to feature a Rasmus, a kale lover from Stockholm. Rasmus discovered The Kale Project and left a comment about a kale hummus recipe that I could not pass up so I asked him to share his love for kale and everything about kale in Sweden.
Describe what kale tastes like in one sentence.
Amazing! Longer sentence: it has a deep and definite brassica flavour, and lends itself very well to many types of dishes.
When did you first try kale? How was it prepared? What did you think?
In Sweden kale is usually sold deep frozen only. It is so finely chopped (like spinach) that it’s useful only in soups and sauces and other recipes that call for such tiny pieces of kale (such as my kale hummus). So I guess the first time I ate kale must have been in a soup. I don’t remember when it was or what I thought about it then, but kale soup was a fairly common dish in my family so it was probably quite early in my life, and I really like that soup.
The first time I ate fresh kale, however, was actually not more than about 6 or 7 years ago. I immediately fell in love with it and eat it for literally almost every meal while it’s in season!
What is your favorite way to eat kale?
I usually either steam or sautée the kale, but then it can be used in an endless variety of dishes. It’s so versatile! I make lots of kale salads (using ingredients ranging from clementines and caramelised onions to French lentils, nuts, beans, roasted tomatoes) but also use it in stews, sauces, risotto, curries, soups, spreads, smoothies, kale chips and so on…
Like so many other vegetables, kale goes extremely well with garlic and lemon, so I feature them in many of my kale recipes.
If you were serving kale to a “kale virgin,” how would you prepare it?
I would make a type of dish that this person is familiar with, perhaps a creamy pasta sauce. Large pieces of kale is often a bit tough to chew so kale salads might not be the right choice for someone who is not used to eating it.
What is your background in natural foods?
I was a vegetarian from birth and became a vegan about 8 years ago. That’s when food and cooking became one of my biggest interests. I cook practically everything from scratch (except for pasta, tomato paste and a few other things) and almost all of my dishes are based on vegetables and pulses.
What is the perception of kale in Sweden? Are kids raised eating it? Is it part of Swedish culture?
It is quite common in a small region in the south west of Sweden, where they make a dish called “långkål” in which the kale is first boiled in stock, then sautéed until all liquid evaporates. It’s a really tasty dish! That region is also where the small handful of commercial kale growers are located (I believe there are only about three or four).
The rest of the country is sadly very ignorant about kale. It is sold fresh only for a few weeks in November and December and the shops remove it precisely on Christmas day. What’s even more tragic is that it is often not even eaten but just used for garnish on the Christmas buffets. Many people probably don’t even know what it is or that it is edible at all.
Among food bloggers and other foodies, on the other hand, kale is very popular. Some farmer’s markets sell organic kale during the autumn, and there is usually a rush when we try to get hold of all the kale they have…
What is the natural food movement like in Sweden and where do you see it going?
I believe that more and more people are becoming more interested and concerned about their food. The number of farmer’s markets are going up, both in the major cities but also in smaller towns, and there are more organic food stores than just a few years ago. Raw food has become fairly well known too.
In the 70’s and 80’s, vegetarian and natural food in Sweden was practically synonymous to healthy (but dull) dishes that contained brown rice, raw shredded cabbage and root vegetables, sprouts and so on, but now many of us vegans and vegetarians are gourmets who create advanced and luxurious dishes. This is probably aided by the constantly growing number of vegan food blogs, which is a great way to share one’s own cooking and to find inspiration, as well as the increasing amount of vegan milks, meats and other products on the market. The restaurants though are quite far behind and many have big trouble making even a single vegan dish, and some outright refuse!
Thanks to Rasmus for being our first guy kale-lover and for telling us all about kale in Sweden.