By Jenn Fillenworth
Kale entered the food scene in full force and you couldn’t turn around without seeing kale on every restaurant menu. This “superfood” packs a nutritional punch with over 1000% of your daily vitamin K intake for one cup. Yes, just one little cup. Of course, it also contains many other vitamins and minerals, including calcium. Which is perfect for those that are plant-based eaters looking to keep their bones nice and strong. For some, kale is a tough sell…literally. It’s a very fibrous leafy green so eating it is much more of a task than our usual leafy greens. Kale is also very earthy. It has much more flavor to it than say romaine or spinach. So how do we do it? How do we turn this fibrous and earthy vegetable into something delicious? Let’s take a look at some great tips.
Praise the Braised Kale
Heartier greens tend to take very well to the braising process and kale is no exception. This is one of my go-to sides, especially in the chilly months. I start off by sautéing garlic and shallot in olive oil for a few minutes then I put those aside. Next, I add my chopped kale to the pan with either chicken or vegetable stock. I cover that and let the kale cook down and absorb all of those flavors in the pan. This process helps break down some of those fibers making the kale more tender to eat. Adding aromatics also helps to balance out those strong earthy flavors. This side will pair well with almost any dish or you can even toss your braised kale with pasta. Here’s a simple recipe to get you hooked on braising your kale!
Get started: Braised Kale Recipe
Crunchy Crispy Kale
Turns out that hearty texture is great for another reason, making chips! Kale chips are awesome for several reasons. First, they’re a great snack. When you bake kale with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, it almost takes on that irresistible nutty flavor. I also like to use these kale chips as a garnish for my dishes that lack a lot of texture. The crunchy kale helps add something exciting to the plate and brings a freshness. The key to perfect kale chips is a low oven temperature, usually around 250-300 degrees. Then giving each kale chip a little massage of olive oil, seasoning, and bake for 10-15 minutes. Next, give them some space on the sheet tray so they don’t steam each other while baking. There you have it, the perfect chip. You can spice up your kale chips with any of your favorite seasonings. I love tossing mine with a little nutritional yeast.
The Only Kale Salad Trick You Will Ever Need
There’s a secret to making a really really good kale salad. It’s not any certain recipe in particular but rather a method. This involves getting a little handsy with your kale but only to show it some love and make it more tender! Massaging your chopped kale with a little olive oil or lemon juice and salt will help break down some of those tough fibers and make it much more tender. You’ll notice that the kale leaves will become this beautiful deep green as you massage it. Then, simply add the rest of your ingredients and a little dressing. It will literally change your opinion on kale forever. Trust me, I was a kale skeptic at one point!