Kale is a dark leafy green with a lot more to it than your average vegetable.
- Easy to grow
- Full of health benefits
- Delicious and simple to use in recipes!
In this simple guide to using kale I’ll teach you how to integrate kale into recipes you already have and how to create new and delicious kale recipes on your own. Whether you choose to marinate, dehydrate, steam, bake, boil or blend your kale, I’ve included simple tips to make each dish a success!
How to make kale:
1. Kale Chips:
If you’ve never had kale chips the idea may sound strange, but they are SO yummy! You can make chips in the oven or a dehydrator.
For both methods:
- Tear or cut the leaf off the stem and into small, palm-sized pieces.
- Place the pieces either on a dehydrator tray (a little over 4 hours at 145 degrees), or on a baking sheet (10-15 minutes at 350 degrees) and sprinkle with salt.
After they have crisped up (be careful not to burn in the oven – it happens quickly!) remove the kale leaves and mix a small amount of oil, nutritional yeast and other seasonings.
Tip: Experiment with the amount of oil (usually no more than 1 Tbs. per large bunch of kale) and other seasonings you use. A bit of red pepper or dill is particularly yummy.
2. Steamed Kale:
If kale salad isn’t your thing, or if you’re looking for an easy way to cook kale, then try a quick steam.
- Remove the kale leaf stems and tear the leaf into bite-sized pieces.
- Set the pieces aside and wait for your water to boil.
The trick to not over-steaming greens and keeping the most nutrients in your kale is to wait to put the kale in the steamer basket until the water is fully boiling, placing the lid tightly on the pot and pulling it off the burner as soon as the kale looks done.
Leafy greens steam quickly too so don’t leave them unattended. The kale will become a brighter green color as it cooks. When it looks ready, use some tongs to pull the kale out of the basket, as it will continue to cook if left in the pot with hot water.
Tip: If you find steamed greens a bit bland, throw a little bit of tamari and nutritional yeast over the steam after it’s done! Another option is to steam some fresh garden herbs in with the greens at the same time.
3. Kale Salads:
Young leaves are delicious chopped up in a simple mixed salad. Simply remove the spine and cut the young leaves into strips, then mix it with your other favorite garden greens.
If the leaves are mature or a bit older they can become too tough for a mixed salad and taste best in a marinated or rubbed salad.
- Tear or cut the stem off your kale leaves
- Cut the leaves in half and then into strips.
- Take the strips and dress them with your favorite vinegar-based dressing, or a simple mix of oil, acid (lemon juice, vinegar, lime, orange etc.) and salt/tamari mixed together.
If you have time, let your dressed salad set for an hour or so to allow the leaves to soften. If you do not have enough time to let the leaves marinate you can “massage”* them until they are soft and ready to eat.
Tip: Adding a touch of chili oil and some sweet red peppers to your massaged kale salad will add color and an unexpected flair to your dish. Other possible variations include adding some raw or toasted seeds (such as sesame or sunflower), or sautéed mushrooms.
*Massage is just a fancy word for gently squashing the kale with your hands or a spoon, spatula or fork until they are tender.
4. Kale Stir Fries:
Follow the directions for steaming kale, but instead of throwing kale in a steamer pot, throw it into your stir-fry after the dish has finished cooking. The residual heat from the dish will cook your kale perfectly, but if it doesn’t cook well enough simply turn the heat back on for a moment.
Tip: If your kale is a bit too chewy in the dish, add a touch of oil or tahini to soften the kale and add flavor.
5. Kale Soups:
Just as with a stir fry, when adding kale to a soup you want to make sure the other ingredients are fully cooked before adding in your kale pieces (removed from the stem and chopped). I find kale an excellent addition to pretty much any type of soup. Just cook up a pot like you normally would and then throw your kale in right before the dish finishes cooking (usually 10-12 minutes in a hot soup will be enough to soften and cook the kale.)
6. Kale Smoothies/Juices:
If you’re a big juicer you probably already throw kale in your Champion, but if not, watch out when you do. Green juice is absolutely chock-full of nutrients and you will feel the boost in energy almost immediately! Kale is a bit bitter when juiced though so it’s always nice to throw some apple or orange in along with it.
I personally prefer green smoothies rather than juice, for the added fiber and bulk to help keep you filled up. You have to have a good blender if you’re going to attempt this though. We use a Vitamix, which has enough power to blend up kale without it getting wrapped around the blade (and burning out the motor). If you’re not sure about the strength of your motor, cut the kale into small pieces before adding it to your smoothie and make sure you have plenty of liquid in your drink to help the kale blend.
Tip: Our standard green drink contains 2 oranges (whole sans skin), 1 papaya (with skin and seeds removed, although you can eat the seeds if you enjoy a good deal of spice), a bit of water, a number of de-stemmed kale leaves and some ice. You’ll be amazed how much energy a smoothie like this will give you!
Kale is the New Spinach (Health Benefits)