Healthy Kitchen/ Seasonal Produce Guides

Kickin’ It With Kale

kale in CSA box

Recently, a friend asked me, “How can I make kale yummy?” It occurred to me that perhaps a lot of people are new to the nutritional powerhouse that is kale. Maybe you only know it as that curly green thing underneath your potato salad. It does look quite nice, but it is severely underutilized as a garnish. Loaded with calcium, iron, potassium, vitamins A, C, and K, and even some protein, you’d be much better off eating the kale, and tossing the potato salad. Here are five simple things you can do to make your kale yummy.

Eat it raw. Eating a salad comprised solely of raw kale is a little tough to take. Kale has pretty intense flavor and a tough texture. But if you want to give your salad a nutritional shot in the arm, simply remove the leaves from the stem, chop them up, and mix with other lettuces, like romaine, leaf, or butter. The added flavor and texture will, ahem, (switch to fancy voice) dance wonderfully across the palate and create a unique mouth-feel. Wow, I watch way too much Top Chef.

Massage it. Massaging is a technique used with raw kale in order to both tenderize it and remove a good portion of its bitterness. Remove the kale leaves from the stem, cut them into 1 inch wide ribbons, and place them in a large bowl. For one bunch of kale, add 1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt, the juice of half of a lemon, and a touch of olive oil (optional), then begin to rub it all around the kale. You must continually massage the salt, lemon, and oil into all of the leaves for 2 to 3 minutes. After this time has elapsed, you will notice that the kale has wilted a bit and it will have a much milder flavor. Now it’s ready to become a salad. Add other veggies, fruits, and nuts and dress simply with a little agave nectar, and lemon juice and olive oil, if needed. Both delicious and energizing, a massaged kale salad always comes with a happy ending.

Curly kale in colander

Blanch it. Blanching is the process of boiling something for a very short amount of time. You need only bring a pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt, and you’re ready to go. Depending on what veggie you’re using, blanching times will vary. To blanch kale, remove the leaves from the stem and roughly chop them. Submerge the kale in the boiling water and remove it after 20 seconds. Immediately cool the leaves by running them under cold water, or plunging them into a bowl of ice water, known as an ice bath. This keeps the kale from overcooking, and retains its deep green color. Drain it, and squeeze out as much water as possible. Now tender, with the bitterness removed, your blanched kale is perfect on a pizza, in a lasagna, or as a simple cold side dish with a drizzle of sesame oil and a dash of soy sauce or tamari.

Soup it. Kale is a fantastic way to add a whole bunch of extra goodness to soups and stews. Remove the leaves from the stem and cut them into 1 inch wide ribbons. Personally, I enjoy the texture of the kale, so I add it at the very end of the cooking process, to keep it from getting soft and mushy. Finish cooking your soup or stew, then cut off the heat and stir in the kale. Let it sit for 4 to 5 minutes, then let the tongue scalding begin.

Green velvet smoothie (kale, banana, and avocado)Drink it. Whaaaaat?? How the heck can I drink a bunch of leaves? Put it through your juicer, silly. With life-changing documentaries like Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead* approaching the mainstream, juicing has become more popular than ever. You, of course, could not eat an entire bunch of kale at once, but by turning it into juice, you can consume the powerful, supercharging nutrients of said bunch all in one shot! Start with a combination of kale (including the stems), carrot, celery and apples, then add other fruits and veggies for variety. Squeezing in a little fresh lemon juice will help your body absorb the iron that kale has to offer, and it will also balance out its bitterness. Super-mega juicing tip: Since it’s not as curly as green kale, lacinato kale (a.k.a. dinosaur or black kale) is easier to cram into juicers that have smaller feeding tubes. You’re welcome. So, go ahead and juice that kale! You’ll be sporting a Jack LaLane spandex onesie in no time.

I hope you give all of these methods a try because I know that you will love at least one of them, if not all of them!

Brian Patton is the author of The Sexy Vegan Cookbook* and executive chef for Vegin’ Out, a vegan food delivery service in Los Angeles. As the quintessential “regular dude” vegan chef, he started posting instructional cooking videos on YouTube as his witty, ukulele playing alter-ego “The Sexy Vegan” and quickly gained a large following.  Visit him online at The Sexy Vegan. 

*This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, VegKitchen receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!

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  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    i love kale!

  • Reply
    The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude by Brian L. Patton |
    March 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    […] here to read Kickin’ It With Kale by Brain Patton here on […]

  • Reply
    May 6, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    You have blessed me tnhgiot with 2 WONDERFUL recipes! I have tasted kale in raw food restaurants and loved the taste. But when I tried to make it at home, it paled in comparison. Your instruction in this video provides the missing link for how I can improve my methods. Also, I LOVED the zucchini pasta recipe as well. Oh, gosh! Please, keep it up. I need more recipes. Thanks.

  • Reply
    May 6, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    i agree with u y food nweotrk put fat food in tv y they dont let women like this in tv and let us eat good food every time i watch food nweotrk there is man vs food and food war and junk food any where faat faat faat faat

  • Reply
    February 26, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    I am getting ready to fix a kale,bean and sausage ragout. I just found your post,and I am grateful that I did. This is my first time fixing kale. I am going to add it in the ragout and let it sit after all is done. Thank you. I want to check out more of your recipes. I have a blog for easy meals that are healthy for cancer survivors. May I share your recipes, if I let people know about your blog and the recipes are yours? I don’t see a reblog anywhere.

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