Although kale has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, American cooks seem to just now be taking it seriously as something more than a garnish. It's a good thing they are, because kale has the health advantages of a cruciferous vegetable in lowering cancer risk, and it's an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K as well as a very good source of fiber, potassium, and calcium. Kale is a member of the cabbage family and has a cabbagelike flavor. It thrives in cold climates and is in season in the winter months, although it is available year-round and can be grown in warmer climes as well. Kale leaves are long and frilly, with a tough center stalk, and can vary in color and texture (see varieties below). Kale can be used similarly to spinach. The kale chips (below) are a healthy, salty snack, but we'll also show you how to cook kale three different ways for entrées or sides.
The three main types available in the United States are:
Not every green was created equally. Here's what to look for when choosing what kale to buy.
Kale has often gotten a bad rap because it's sturdier than it looks, which is why preparing kale properly is so important.
In a large saucepan bring a small amount of water (about 2 cups) and a little salt (1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon) to boiling. Add 12 ounces torn kale. Return to boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Drain.
In a large skillet heat 4 teaspoons olive oil. Add 12 ounces torn dinosaur or curly kale. Cook, covered, for 1 minute. Uncover and cook and stir for 1 minute more or just until wilted. If desired, season the sautéed kale with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
This kale recipe makes a potful and will serve 8 to 10 plus leftovers. For a meatless option, swap in vegetable stock for ham hocks and increase the seasonings.
Preheat oven to 300˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 2 cups torn kale leaves on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until crisp.
To make sure you get the crispy snack you're craving, here's a step-by-step guide to make kale chips.
Cooking kale completely unleashes its possibilities (and releases most of its bitterness). From using kale in soup to roasting kale to making a kale frittata, these recipes prove the green is way more than just salad.