Now starring: kale!

April 23 2015

Kale. What is there to say about this leafy green vegetable? It's highly nutritious, goes well with a variety of foods and flavours and it's delicious. With so many benefits, it's no wonder this brassica has become a favourite ingredient in restaurants across the country. In fact, in some ways, it's surprising that it has taken so gain popularity.

However, it seems that kale, which often appears in main meals as a side dish, is now starting to play an even bigger part and restaurateurs are promoting its inclusion and using it more than ever before.

According to Technomic's MenuMonitor online resource, mentions of kale on Canadian menus have grown 33 per cent in the latest year-on-year comparison. In addition, there has been a 39 per cent increase in the number of Canadian restaurants adding kale to their menus. Overall, menu mentions are up 122 per cent over two years.

And it's not just in side dishes where kale has seen growth - although they've seen an impressive 25 per cent increase. All menu parts are seeing the inclusion of more kale. Even non-alcoholic beverages, where kale is included 18 per cent more often than this time last year.

The upwards trend for kale is far from unexpected, however. Consumers are increasingly concerned about health and this leafy green fits right into those preferences. It's high in fiber, iron and antioxidants, as well as various vitamins. Plus, it also helps that it's one of those vegetables that seems to go well with everything.

So, how are restaurants currently using kale? Here are some examples:

  • Redwater Rustic Grill offers a Strawberry Citrus Kale salad. It features strawberries, toasted hazelnut, grana padano cheese and lemon vinaigrette.
  • Moxie's Grille and Bar serves up Haddock with Lemon Quinoa, along with sauteed kale leaves, edamame and fresh herb chimichurri.
  • ​The Lentil Quinoa Bowl at Panera Bread includes quinoa, rice, lentils, tomato sofrito, kale and spinach, all served with a lemon wheel in an umami soy-miso broth.
  • St Louis Bar and Grill offers an Asian BBQ Chicken Sandwich, which is served on a bed of baby kale topped with sweet Asian coleslaw, onion and pepper mix.​