Although kale has been really trendy the last few years, some people still feel intimidated to try it – even when they know its health benefits. A cup of raw kale has only 33 calories, nearly 3 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fiber, Vitamins A, C, and K, folate, alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid), phosphorus, potassium, calcium, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin (nutrients that protect against macular degeneration and cataracts).
We get the hesitation: In its raw form, kale can be a little strange to look at – and figuring out what to do with a new ingredient can be overwhelming. We’ve got the info you need to alleviate any fear and show you the joy of cooking with kale.
Choose the right type of kale.
Like many vegetables, kale is a versatile food that can easily be added to a wide variety of dishes like salads, smoothies, rice or quinoa bowls, enchiladas, pesto sauce and more. If you’re using kale raw, like in a salad, pay particular attention to the type of kale you’re using. One type of kale is curly kale, named for its curly texture. The other type of kale is known by many different names: lacinato kale, Tuscan kale, cavolo nero, dinosaur kale or dino – the leaves on this kale resemble the scales of a dinosaur. If you’re making a raw salad, steer clear of curly kale, which has a fibrous, grassy taste and opt instead for lacinato kale, which is less crunchy, easier to chew and sweeter.
Prepare your kale.
The first step to prepping kale is getting rid of the pesky stem that runs down the middle of each leaf (also known as the stalk or ribs). In lacinato kale, the ribs are edible and don’t need to be removed, but you still want to remove them if you’re eating it raw since they have a very rough texture. For an easy way to remove the stem from the center of kale, set each leaf upside-down on a cutting board and cut a V shape along both sides of the rib. Remove the sections you cut away and voila: stem-free kale. Don’t forget to rinse the kale before using it – use a salad spinner if you have one.
Choose your recipe.
Sometimes choosing a recipe comes down to the equipment and ingredients you have on-hand. If you have a food processor, try this recipe for kale pesto. If you’re using a blender, here’s a recipe for creamy potato kale soup. In the mood for a Mexican-inspired meal? Consider these “kale”sadillas. There are many ways to use kale, from lemon parmesan kale salad to garlic and parmesan kale chips to this kale and wild rice casserole. Don’t stop there! There are recipes for sweet potato and kale balls, savory kale and pumpkin scones and potato and kale enchiladas. If you don’t feel like following a recipe, experiment with your own ingredients and cooking style. Kale is a vegetable that can easily be baked, sautéed, dehydrated, braised and more.
Freeze the leftovers.
Kale can be frozen for later use. It’s important when freezing kale to think about what you’ll be using it for later. If the kale is simply adds a splash of color, texture and flavor to a dish, you can freeze it raw. If the kale is going to have a starring role in the dish you’ll make later, boil the kale first to remove oxalic acid. Oxalic acid, which is also found in leafy greens like spinach, collards and chards, is a mineral inhibitor that may cause kidney stones. To remove it, boil the greens and discard the water before freezing.
Ease kale into your life.
The experts at Epicurious recommend this S,S,S trick for kale. Soak: Soak the kale for a few minutes in tepid water after trimming the base of the stems. Shake: Shake dry. Store: Keep kale in an airtight container in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to four days.
Have fun with kale.
Don’t let either the dinosaur-like appearance of kale or the thought of trying to turn it into a delicious dish overwhelm you. Sometimes joy in the kitchen derives from simplicity: an easy salad or a quick sauté. The beauty of kale is that it can be prepared in infinite ways. Add it to your eggs for breakfast. Put it on your pizza. Sautee it with a little garlic and enjoy it.