Have We Reached Peak Kale? Franchi’s Cavolo Laciniato “Galega De Folhas Lisas”


I’ve heard murmurings of a kale backlash. Apparently, too many restaurants have kale salads and fancy city folks like us are losing sleep worrying what the next hip vegetable will be. I have a proposal. Let’s keep with the kale for awhile longer. I propose a Franchi kale “Galega De Folhas Lisas” as the new big thing.

Translated, the variety name is something like “Galacian smooth leaf.” To add to the confusion I get the feeling that Italians don’t distinguish between kale and collards—what we call collards they consider just a smooth leafed and lighter colored version of kale. This makes sense as they are both just primitive forms of cabbage that don’t form a head.

Planted last fall, my Galega De Folhas Lisas survived into the dry LA summer, including a long spell where the drip irrigation failed without me knowing it. It’s still growing. Think about that. This is one tough veggie. It’s a beautiful plant with thick leaves that taste like, well, collards.  It does need space and did not seem to like root competition—1 1/2 to 2 feet apart is my guess for spacing.

This variety caught my eye when I overheard a farmer talking about it in the Heirloom Seed Store’s booth. He liked it a lot but complained that his customers would not buy it because of its unusual appearance. I do think there’s an opportunity for an enterprising young farmer to raid the Franchi catalog and grow a farmers market booth full of Italian (and in this case Galacian) vegetables.

If you know anything more about this kale/collard, including the sorts of dishes it’s used for, please leave a comment.

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  1. “Galega de folhas lisas” is actually Portuguese, and indeed means “smooth-leaved Galician”; here it’s known simply as “couve galega”, and mainly used very thinly sliced in the soup known as Caldo Verde (green broth). The English language entry on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caldo_verde) does list collard greens as an ingredient. In my experience, the soup is not just eaten during celebrations – it’s actually a very common dish on restaurant menus, for example. I’ve also found recipes for sautéed couve galega or for “esparregado”, basically like creamed spinach, but I’ve never tried them myself.

    • Hi Paola–thanks for the clarification. I’m also growing a non-heading Portuguese cabbage that I noticed is also used to make Caldo Verde.

  2. All my brassicas get lumped together. I go pick a bunch of leaves off, no need to strip out the stems either, and make this – served with pitas or a flatbread. If there aren’t that many mustard leaves in the bunch, use mustard oil to get the kick. Fantastic recipe from Iyer’s “660 Curries”. Spicy, sour, hot and simple. People who can’t stand kale/collards love it, maybe because it’s pureed.

    Pureed Mustard Greens with Clarified Butter

    2 tbsp mustard oil or canola oil
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
    2 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed
    2 fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, stems removed
    1 lb fresh mustard greens, coarsely chopped
    1 tsp coarse salt
    2 tbsp ghee or butter
    2 tbsp cornmeal
    juice of 1 lime

    1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle and are fragrant, 5 – 10 seconds.
    2. Add garlic and chiles. Stir fry until chiles gently blister, 1 – 2 minutes.
    3. Add mustard greens a handful at a time and cook until they wilt. Continue, stirring occasionally until liquid evaporates, 8 – 12 minutes.
    4. Stir in salt and add 2 cups water, scraping the pan.
    5. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium, cover, and simmer until greens are tender and olive, 15 minutes.
    6. Remove pan from heat and blend greens in a blender jar.
    7. Return puree to pan and add ghee and cornmeal.
    8. Cook, stirring occasionally until mixture has thickened, 15 minutes.
    9. Fold in lime juice and serve.

    • Thanks for the tip Bruce–wish I could come over for dinner! Please say hello to Heidi and Art for me.

  3. I was over kale as soon as it got popular. I have tried to like it. I have found 1 recipe my family will eat. I have fed many kale disasters to the chickens. I love chard, turnip greens, mustard spinach, spinach, collards, and every kind of cabbage known to man. Why does it need to be kale that is so trendy?! We need a turnip green revival!

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