Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How to Cook with Kale

An Intro

Kale has been dubbed the healthiest vegetable in the world and I have to tell you, I find that pretty intimidating.  It makes it sound like you have to be the healthiest person in the world just to eat it! For nearly a year, I would grown every time it showed up in my CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture).  But with the help of two wonderful cookbook authors, Deborah Madison and Martha Rose Shulman, I felt empowered to start cooking with kale rather than just composting it!

I'll take you through the steps of storing, prepping and cooking kale.  At the end, I'll add some links to recipes that I have modified to include kale.

Quick Tips
Here are some quick tips to get the most out of your kale:
  1. Don't wash it when you bring it home because the water will cling to the leaves and invite mold to grow on them.
  2. Store your kale in a loose fitting plastic bag (like the kind in the produce section at grocery stores).*
  3. Store it in the coldest part of the fridge; it'll keep for at least a week.  And, I'm sure I've pushed mine longer but I'm a risk taker.

*I am not a plastic person but I reuse these bags over and over again.  Just make sure you clean them out between uses.  I know that's common sense, but it's worth writing anyway.

Kale Prep Work

For me kale has a bitter taste and thus, I can hardly eat it raw.  This means I'm always cooking it.  Here's how to prep your kale.
  1. Destem your kale by gripping it at the stem and using the other hand, make a circle with your thumb and index finger like your saying everything is A-OK. Make your circle a little tighter than the one shown here.
  2. Run the kale leaves through your fingers to remove them from their stems.
  3. Thoroughly wash the leaves by submerging them in a big bowl of water and wiping the dirt off of them.  Then rinse in a colander.
  4. I always leave water clinging to the leaves because it helps them as they cook down.
  5. Optional: Chop the leaves before cooking them.  This will make the kale easy to use right out of the pan, but it also mean the leaves will burn more easily.  Do this if you are cooking it with other veggies.  

The Actual Cooking Part

Option 1: Sauté the kale in some olive oil (1-2 TBSP) over medium high heat, regularly moving it around the pan so that the leaves don't burn.  Remove from heat once the kale has wilted and reduced in size.

Option 2: If your recipe doesn't call for onions, then I would chop up an onion and add that to the olive oil first.  Let it soften, about 5-10 minutes over medium high heat.  Then add the kale and follow the above process.

Remove the kale from the pan and chop it if you didn't already.  You'll be able to chop it much finer now that it's cooked.

Kale goes great with:
Sweet potatoes
Butternut squash
White beans
Bread (pizza, calzones, empanadas, etc)


Here are a few recipes that I love, some have kale and others I have modified by adding kale to them.  Enjoy!

No modifications needed here!

Winter Squash Souffle ~ From Epicurious
For this recipe, I add kale as cooked in Option 1 and chopped afterward.  Fold in the kale before you transfer the mixture to the bowl and put the egg yolks in.

A Fragrant Onion Tart ~ Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy
For this tart, I stir in the kale when I stir in the onions.  Be careful to let the kale cool, otherwise you'll cook your eggs long before you want to.

Madison also has another wonderful book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, of which she just released a new version.  In that book is a great recipe entitled something like "Empanadas with Greens and Olives".  It's a great recipe.

Greens Gratin ~ Martha Rose Shulman
I don't have a picture for this gratin, but I have made several of them from Martha Rose Shulman's Mediterranean Harvest.  What a fantastic resource!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, now I feel so hungry! Thank you for teaching me more about kale.