Kale resembles collards, except that its leaves are curly at the edges. In addition, it has a stronger flavor and a coarser texture. When cooked, kale doesn’t shrink as much as other greens. The most common variety is deep green, but other kales are yellow-green, white, red, or purple, with either flat or ruffled leaves. The colored varieties—sometimes called salad Savoy—are most often grown for ornamental purposes, but they are edible. Here are some varieties of kale available in the market.
- Common kale: This is the type most often found in supermarkets. It has large, frilly-edged leaves and long stems. Kale grows in a loose head, but is often sold as loose leaves bound together. The color can range from pale to deep green with a slightly bluish hue.
- Lacinato Kale (Dinosaur Kale, Tuscan kale, cavolo nero): This Italian variety of kale was grown by Thomas Jefferson in his garden at Monticello. It is dark purplish green, and has crinkly leaves and a sweet, slightly spicy flavor.
- Ornamental (salad Savoy): Frilly and fluffy, ranging in color from pink to purple to magenta, this colorful variety is used on buffet tables for displays. It forms a rosette, which looks like an opened-up flower. While its leaves are somewhat coarse, it is edible.
- Red Russian (Ragged Jack): This type of kale is sold as individual leaves like common kale. The leaves are bluish-green with a red rib. They do not have the deeply frilly edges of common kale and look just like overgrown oak leaves. Russian kale is sweeter and more tender than common kale.
- White Kale: This variety of kale forms a rosette head like purple kale, but its frilly leaves are white. The flavor is strong and cabbage-like.
See also: Crazy for Kale? Join the Club!