at the market: kale

Last Saturday was the opening weekend for the 2010 Charlottesville City Market. I awoke bright and early that morning, positively giddy with excitement, ready to greet old friends and fill our basket with local meat, cheese, eggs, coffee and greens. I not-so-gently shook Brian awake, bounced down the hall to brush my teeth and tame my hair, pulled on jeans and slipped into sandals all in the amount of time it typically takes me to fumble around groggily looking for the ‘snooze’ button on my alarm.

We arrived beneath a sky washed with shades of pink and blue, just as the cool morning air was pierced by golden sunbeams slipping between historic brick buildings.  Our bodies cast long shadows on the sidewalk as we made our way towards the parking lot full of rainbow-hued tents, listening to the chatter of vendors and patrons mingled with the strum of a banjo and the bark of a dog.  The intoxicating smell of sizzling, smokey breakfast sausage wafted our way as the folks from Babes in the Wood grilled plump links for the line of people curled around their booth, ready to get their fill of a market favorite missed for the last four months.

We made our way down the already-crowded aisles, stopping to admire a booth of freshly cut tulips resembling painted Easter eggs swaying atop fluorescent green stems.  Our first destination, always, is Double H Farm, where we’re sure to receive a big bear-hug from Richard and a bright, happy smile from Jean.  It was no different last Saturday, and even though we saw each other every few weeks through the long, cold Winter, we greeted each other as if it had been months since our last visit, all so excited that Spring is finally here and we’ll be able to catch up every week.

After a brief chat, our basket was filled with a dozen eggs, arugula, kale, sliced ham and a 6-pack of lettuce plants.  Goodbyes were said alongside “see you next week!” and Brian and I moved on to explore the rest of the market.  We stopped at the Shenandoah Joe booth for our morning cup of coffee and a pound of whole beans for the week, before moving on to Night Sky Farm for some samples of chevre and the purchase of fresh feta cheese.  We wandered between booths, waving to familiar faces and introducing ourselves to new vendors, until finally our basket was filled to the brim and our wallets were empty.

Once home I surveyed our purchases, planned our menu for the week and penned our grocery shopping list.  I love this time of year, when local, seasonal produce begins to inform our meal choices, when the trip to the grocery store happens only after a visit to the farmer’s market.

Greens will play a prominent role in our diet for the next few months, until a greater variety of locally-grown produce becomes available.  I’m okay with that, as it seems that there are endless possibilities for the leafy, fiber and vitamin-full vegetables.  Last week we tried kale chips for the very first time, after seeing them pop up on many of my favorite blogs.  We used green curly kale and, although not as crispy as a potato chip, they were really quite tasty.  Next time we’ll try lacinato kale, as it seems that the thicker leaves will make for a more substantial chip.

We also spread the baked kale across whole wheat pitas brushed with olive oil, and then topped the ‘pizzas’ with thinly sliced red onion and thick slices of fresh mozzarella.  Delicious, and such a healthy, quick dinner.

Baked Kale Chips


  • one large bunch of kale (I used the green, curly variety, but I think that Lacinato would be even better)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly grated parmesan


  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Rinse and dry kale as best you can with paper towels or in a salad spinner.  Tear into bite-size pieces, discarding tough central stems.
  3. Toss kale with olive oil, just to coat very lightly.  Spread kale across baking sheets in one layer.  Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly grated parmesan.
  4. Bake at 350* for 10-15 minutes, until edges are starting to brown and kale gets mostly crispy.  Remove from oven and remove from tray, laying kale chips out on a wire rack to cool slightly.  Serve immediately.

Our City Market lost someone very dear this week.  John Coles, founder of the Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (VICFA), longtime food advocate and producer of incredible, artisanal goat cheese, has passed away.  His presence at the City Market and as a member of the local food community will be missed greatly.

You can read Joel Salatin’s tribute to John here.


16 responses to “at the market: kale

  1. I went to the market today too! We are lucky that we have a winter market twice a month throughout the summer but I can’t wait for the real, fully stocked and wonderful market returns! SOON.

  2. hey whitney…what market did you go to?

  3. kale in all its guises…like manna to me. i ALSO went to the market this morning and have already plowed through a bag each of arugula and watercress!

  4. OMFG. Kale has to be one of my favorite GREEN and this post had me drooling. I ESPECIALLY love raw curly kale salad. Have you ever tried this? At its simplest, chop the curly kale leaves fine and toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Let it marinate a bit if you’d like. It’s incredibly fresh and delicious.

    My other favorite kale variety is cavelo nero, or tuscan kale. Not sure if you can get it in Charlottesville, but look out for it. It will blow your mind!

  5. Whitney – You’re so lucky to have a Winter market! We arrange pick-ups with some of our farmer friends so that we’re not completely deprived of their products, but there’s nothing like the actual Saturday outdoor market…

    Ann-Marie – I’m pretty sure she goes to Green City Market.

    Sarah – Me too!!! LOVE kale!

    Monica – I’ve been wanting to try a raw curly kale salad…will definitely do that with the new batch I picked up yesterday! 🙂 And yes, I think tuscan kale is also known as dinosaur kale, right? It’s our favorite too, but isn’t available locally for a few more weeks around here.

  6. I love kale and have been seeing these “chips” lately! Def must try!!

  7. Your lucky that you can enjoy more months of your local farmers market – I still have a two month wait for ours to open – and then its mostly baked goods and cheese.

    Sorry for the loss of the goat cheese maker!

  8. I’ve heard so much about baked kale in the past few months, and was always so envious because I was travelling and didn’t have access to a kitchen. It seems rather serendipitous to have this post of yours awaiting me at the end of my 34 hour trip back to Australia… I foresee some crispy green delights in my near future! 🙂

  9. Bought kale over the weekend and wasn’t sure what to do with it. Finally made kale chips last night. They were better than I expected. I almost ate the entire pan! This recipe was the first one I saw that suggested parm sprinkled on and I think this made the ‘chips’.

  10. MMMMM… I’ve been wanting to try these but for some reason I thought it took, like hours or something. This is much less scary. 🙂

  11. Oh I just love crisped Kale! It’s one of my absolute favorites.

  12. Hello – I am a first time reader – but just wanted to say your food photography is truly gorgeous!


    aka British Bride

  13. Julia – Welcome, and thank you for the sweet comment! 🙂

  14. We just spent the day in Charlottesville a few weeks back, but I hadn’t put your lovely space here and that lovely spot there together, until just now. Our brief spin through was lovely, fresh, vibrant, whip-smart — I can only imagine your farmer’s market must be equally smashing. When our market gets going here in OH in a month, I’m going to need to give these kale chips a whirl.

  15. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a vegetable as simple as kale so beautifully photographed!

  16. Molly – Thank you for the very thoughtful, eloquent comment! I hope you’ll visit Charlottesville again soon, and let me recommend some restaurants and vineyards to you!

    Rachel – Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s