Quick Kale

by Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD, CCE

Kale is pleasing to the eye, pleasant to taste, has great texture for the mouth and can be enjoyed cooked or raw, seasoned or unseasoned. When you are selecting kale, try to purchase just enough to either eat or cook (so it can be refrigerated and saved) within three days.

Uncooked Kale

To eat raw kale, carefully wash each leaf and break away any very tough stems or ribs, unless you like some good 'chew.' The culinary term 'chiffonade,' a very fine shred, is a wonderful way to serve uncooked kale. Roll each leaf into a cigar, and then thinly slice. You'll wind up with lacy kale, perfect for salads.

You may want to try a kale cobb salad: toss finely shredded kale and chopped Romaine and spinach. Mix in chopped avocado, cooked beans, cooked corn (or raw, fresh corn, sliced off the cob), and fresh mushrooms with your favorite dressing. How about a kale Caesar? Mix together shredded kale and shredded Romaine with a squeeze of lime juice, a hint of garlic, vegan croutons, and a vinegar and oil dressing. To go more upscale, mix shredded kale with cooled, cooked, diced asparagus; cooled, cooked quinoa; cooled, cooked diced sweet potato; and dried cranberries.

Cooked Kale

Cooking kale is a fast and easy job. Set a large pot of water to boiling (you'll want lots of room for your kale). Clean your kale and either leave kale leaves whole or cut them into the size you'd like. Plunge the kale into the boiling water. As soon as the leaves begin to wilt, pour kale into a colander or strainer and drain. Dress your kale with your favorite salad dressing, a simple oil and vinegar, or some salsa. Serve over cooked grains or potatoes...or serve as is! If you have cooked more kale than you are going to eat at one sitting, rinse gently with some ice water and cool in the refrigerator to keep the color and the taste at its best.

Kale Chips

Very popular right now, kale chips are easy to make. Think 'nori' or crisp seaweed wrapper, and you've got the idea! Clean your kale leaves and pat very dry. Place kale individually (don't layer or stack) on a nonstick baking pan and bake in a very hot oven, at least 400 degrees, until the kale becomes very crisp. Serve hot, or allow the kale to cool and store in an air tight container. You can eat your kale chips "plain" or toss with garlic and onion powder, chili powder, or red pepper flakes.

Kale Smoothie

Take a page from some restaurant offerings and create a kale smoothie! Billed as a 'drinkable salad,' kale smoothies can include an apple and lemon juice base, chunks of frozen fruit, a small amount of fresh ginger, and shredded raw kale. Add a frozen banana or zucchini to make it creamy!