Popping up in just about every health article, recipe blog, and restaurant menu I find, it seems that kale is quickly becoming the Jon and Kate Gosselin of vegetables these days (and should I add – a far more…ahem…appetizing version). Until recently, kale and I were mere acquaintances, but thanks to a growing awareness of the leafy green veggie, we are becoming much better friends! Loaded with antioxidents, vitamins K, A, and C, and containing just 36 calories per serving, there’s no doubt kale is dieters’ BFF. Researchers are also finding that by activating detoxifing enzymes in the liver, kale also helps neutralize potentially carcinogenic substances, thus lessening the occurence of several types of cancer, including breast and ovarian! What makes this news particularly wonderful (in my house at least), is that there are so many scrumptious kale recipes to be tried. Here are a few that I have found- some have been personally taste-tested, while others are still under review. Try these, and let me know your thoughts.
* Kale Salad (adapted from several recipes I have found over time)
Have you ever tried the Kale salad from the prepared food section at Whole Foods? If not, I highly recommend it- when my friend Diana brought it to one of our very first book club meetings, I nearly ran to the store to buy a pint of it the very next day. Then, of course, I had to figure out how to make it myself…so here’s what I’ve come up with:
2 bunches of kale
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
2 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (garlic or herb-infused oils may also work great for extra flavor)
2 Tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, plus more to taste freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 pound of feta cheese, crumbled, to garnish (optional)
1) Soak cranberries in about a half a cup of boiling water to soften (10-15 minutes)
2) Wash and dry the kale, remove stems, and using a sharp knife, chop into bite-size pieces. You can also chop the kale using a food processor to save time.
3) Briefly steam the kale until the leaves turn bright green, texture should be softened, but still crisp
4) Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a skillet
5) Allow both the kale and the pine nuts to cool while draining the cranberries
6) Combine kale, pine nuts, cranberries, olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, toss to coat.
7) Top with crumbled feta if you wish, and serve
* Kale Chips
Just as addicting, but SOOOOO much healthier than potato chips, I have found literally DOZENS of recipes for kale chips. This one was discovered on Smitten Kitchen- a blog recommended to me by a friend. This lady also has tons of fabulous recipes I am dying to try, check out her blog by clicking the link on my blog list.
1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale (I used Lacinato or “Dinosaur” Kale but I understand that the curlier stuff works, too, possibly even better)
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
1) Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet (I needed two because mine are tiny; I also lined mine with parchment for easy clean-up but there’s no reason that you must). Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.
As if that isn’t wonderful enough…Smitten Kitchen was kind enough to offer another fabulous way to cook with kale, and incorporated it into one of my very favorite snacks: popcorn!
* Kale-Dusted Popcorn
If you’re making the chips with the intention to grind them up for popcorn, I’d use less oil — perhaps half — so they grind without the “powder” clumping. I ground a handful of my chips (about half) in a mortar and pestle (well, actually the “pestle” was MIA so I used the handle of an OXO reamer, not that anyone asked) and sprinkled it over popcorn (1/4 cup popcorn kernels I’d cooked in a covered pot with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, shaking it about with potholders frequently). I seasoned the popcorn with salt. I liked this snack, but I think Parmesan and Kale-Dusted Popcorn would be even more delicious. Next time!
* Kale, Sausage and Mushroom Stew
I have not tried this recipe yet, but I’m convinced that once my husband sees this post, it is going to be in high-demand. Found online, from celebrity chef Mark Bittman, just reading the recipe makes my mouth water!
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 to 1 pound Italian sausage, sweet or hot, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound kale, leaves stripped from stems, stems reserved
3/4 pound trimmed and sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon roughly chopped garlic
1 tablespoon hot paprika or dried red chili flakes, or to taste
Salt and pepper
2 cups chicken stock or water
1) Put olive oil in large deep skillet or casserole, and turn heat to medium-high; a minute later, add sausage and cook without stirring until well browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop kale stems into 1/2-inch lengths and shred leaves.
2) Stir sausage and let it brown a bit more. Remove it with a slotted spoon (don’t worry if it isn’t cooked through). Cook mushrooms in remaining fat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
3) Add kale stems and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, in 3 or 4 minutes. Turn heat to medium and add garlic, paprika or chili flakes, kale leaves, salt and pepper; stir and cook about 1 minute. Return sausage to pan and add stock or water. Raise heat to high and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste, ladle stew into bowls and top with reserved mushrooms.