It’s no secret that kale is at the top of the healthy greens list. This super veggie is packed with healthy nutrients and even contains a few medicinal attributes — it also pairs surprisingly well with some tasty meals. Although kale is a great food to add to your diet, people often only use it sparingly in a few dishes. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to cook kale, making your diet healthier than ever.
How Do You Cook Kale?
There are plenty of ways to cook kale that go beyond juicing or sautéing. You can put kale in soups, turn it into a crispy chip, braise it, roast it in the oven, add it to a smoothie, incorporate it into a salad, sauté and even steam it. But! before you throw kale into your favorite dish, you’ll need to properly prep it, which usually entails removing the stems.
Start by laying the kale on a cutting board. For curly kale, you can tear off the leaves from the stem and adjust their size according to your recipe. With Tuscan kale, you’ll need to cut off the leaves with a knife. Just spread out the kale and cut along the center stem. After you have removed the leaves, wash and dry them. You can store chopped kale in the refrigerator for around two days which gives you time to figure out which of the many methods listed below you might want to use.
Braising refers to slow cooking in a liquid in a covered pot. Braising is an excellent option because kale absorbs the flavor of your braising agent and it makes the leaves tender. Tomato, garlic, chiles, and bacon are all great agents in braising kale. Start by adding butter to a pan on low heat and then add your braise. After about 3 minutes, place the kale leaves in the pan and increase the heat until you reach a boil. Then lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for around 20 minutes.
All it takes to crisp kale is some oil and an oven. Start the process by preheating your oven to 300 degrees. After prepping the kale, drizzle it with olive oil and toss in a small bowl. Then spread the leaves out on a baking sheet and salt. Avoid overlapping the leaves and use a second sheet if needed. Adding a bit of parmesan cheese at this point will give you loads of extra flavor. Bake for around 20 minutes and allow the kale to cool before serving.
Sautéing is one of the most popular ways to serve kale. Start by prepping the vegetable and warming a pan over medium-high heat. You can add either oil or butter to the pan and swirl to coat. Then add the kale and salt while cooking. The kale will be ready to go once it gets tender, which usually happens after about 15 minutes of cooking. You can also add in some shallots or minced garlic for extra flavor, but sauté these before cooking the kale.
Roasting kale is similar to crisping, only you don’t use oil, and you do not bake it for very long. This helps turn the leave soft instead of crisp. Start by spreading out the cut leaves onto a baking sheet and roasting them at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. You can then add the tender leaves to a variety of dishes, including salads, pasta, and even roasted veggies.
One of the biggest complaints about kale is its tough leaves. Steaming is a gentle way to soften up those leaves without losing too many nutrients. Start by placing cut kale in a pot of boiling water. The water should barely immerse the leaves. Cover the pot and cook until the leaves are tender (usually around 10 minutes). Strain the water and squeeze out any excess from the leaves before serving. Add salt to taste.
One popular way people squeeze kale into a diet is adding it to a tasty salad. The easiest way is to just chop up the leaves and toss like you would ordinary lettuce. If the salad is too rough for your liking, massage the leaves with your hands before tossing. This will loosen up the fibers and soften the kale. If that is not soft enough for you, steam the kale ahead of time and allow it to cool before adding to salad.
Part of the reason kale is so great is that it pairs well with so many different foods. A few popular kale pairings include coconut (flakes or milk), oranges, rosemary, bacon, nuts, raisins, tomatoes and almond butter. Kale is also good when added to pasta dishes and certain meats, like hamburgers. Because kale has a bitter flavor, it tends to sweeten up the taste of wine, which makes it an excellent pairing for red and white wines that contain moderate acidity levels.
While you can pair kale with most kinds of pasta, try incorporating it with a spicy sausage dish. The bitter taste of kale can pair very nicely with hot pasta and might even become your favorite wintertime meal.
A lot of leafy greens fall apart after cooking in a stew, but not kale. This hardy veggie will stand up to even the most intense stew conditions, making it a perfect addition to a healthy bowl of your favorite soup.
Roasted Carrots And Kale
Roasted carrots are well-known for their sweetness but adding kale to the meal will draw out that sweetness even more. You can also roast the two vegetables together and add in parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips for better variety.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Sticking with the sweet theme, this dish is a great way to spruce up leftover sweet potatoes. Serve the roasted potatoes on top of tender kale and drizzle with caramelized onions. For a gluten-free version, serve with silken tofu.
Orange Beef Stir Fry
This stir-fry meal subs out rice and wheat with kale and spiraled sweet potatoes. The orange flavors tie the meal nicely together and make for a healthy alternative to traditional stir-fry.