There’s no denying that kale packs a nutritional punch. It has over 1000% of your daily vitamin K intake in one cup — yes, just one little cup — and it also contains many other vitamins and minerals, including calcium, ideal for plant-based eaters looking to keep their bones nice and strong. Still, for some, kale is a tough sell — literally. It’s very fibrous, 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. If you’re not a fan of the slightly dirt-like flavor and chewy texture, how can you get on board with #teamkale?
Here are three ways to turn this fibrous and earthy vegetable into something delicious.
1. Braise it.
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 it 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 toss your braised kale with pasta. Here’s a simple braised kale recipe to get you started!
2. Turn it into chips.
Baked with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, kale takes on an irresistible nutty flavor that makes for the perfect afternoon snack. I also like to use kale chips as a garnish for 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. Give the kale a little massage of olive oil, seasoning, and bake for 10-15 minutes and be sure to give them some space, so they don’t steam each other while baking. You can spice up your kale chips with any of your favorite seasonings. I love tossing mine with a little nutritional yeast.
3. Massage your kale.
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!
What’s your favorite way to eat kale?