How to Cook Kale – More than just a fad, kale is a fab leafy green that’s hearty, healthy, and oh-so flavorful. I’ll teach you how to pick the best bunches and treat this veggie right, from easy prep tips to delicious vegan recipe ideas guaranteed to make you say KALE YEAH!
How to Choose the Best Kale
Kale is a tough, rough leafy green from the cabbage family that has been grown for thousands of years. Originally cultivated in the Mediterranean, it quickly became popular around the world and can now be found in some form nearly everywhere.
Like many hearty greens, kale hits its prime in the late summer as the weather starts to cool. It continues to grow well through the winter, and is usually stocked in groceries throughout the year.
Different Types of Kale
There are several different varieties of kales that you’ll see at the store. Here is a quick breakdown of the most common kinds:
- Curly kale – a popular variety with smaller stalks and leaves that are curled. This tends to be a bit fluffier and less hearty, and is good for making smoothies or other raw recipes, or baking into crispy kale “chips.”
- Dinosaur kale – technically called lacinato but dinosaur kale just sounds way cuter and is a great description for the large, bluish-greenish leaves of this variety (as seen in my images here). This is the most common for cooking, with the sturdiest leaves that hold up well to the heat of sautéing or baking.
- Red or purple kale – with larger leaves that are less curly than curly kale, often a deep purple or red color. This packs a lot of distinct earthy flavor, and is often used raw in salads.
Regardless of type, when selecting kale look for thick bunches with firm, full leaves. Ideally the stalks to the tips of each leaf will be sturdy, with no wilting or floppiness.
Tips for How to Clean and Cut Fresh Kale
Keep the kale freshest by storing unwashed in the fridge, either in a plastic bag or wrapped in a slightly damp towel.
When you’re ready to use, clean the kale by rinsing under cool running water and then dry with paper towels.
To cut, place the kale on a flat surface with the “front” side down. This should allow the most of the stem to be exposed on top. Take a sharp knife and carefully slice up and down both sides of the stem to remove the leaf from the stalk. The stems can be discarded, or used in smoothies or added to stir fry dishes for a bit of crunch and vitamins.
Keep reading to get some great ideas for how to cook kale!
How to Preserve Kale
Once cleaned and cut, raw kale can be kept in a sealed plastic bag or wrapped in a damp paper towel in the fridge for up to a few days. It does begin to wilt within a day or so, though, so plan your recipes accordingly.
If you’re planning to cook with kale, you can easily flash freeze the prepared leaves. To freeze, lay the cleaned, dried, and cut kale pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the freezer for one hour to flash freeze. Then transfer the frozen leaves to an airtight bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to Cook Kale: Recommended Vegan Kale Recipes to Try
Kale is healthy and delicious whether enjoyed raw or cooked… you can’t fail with kale!
Of course “cooking” can be a loose term for preparing a recipe. So here are some yummy raw recipes for how to cook kale that don’t involve any actual cooking:
Cooked kale – whether steamed, roasted/baked, or sautéed – adds a great punch of flavor and healthy nutrients to your favorite breakfast recipes, like vegan quiches and “egg” scrambles.
It adds a pop of green color and earthy taste to salads, either raw with other cooked elements like in this Kale Apple Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Quinoa Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing.
Enjoy kale roasted as part of a warm and comforting dinner bowl, like my Kale and Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowls.
Kale even makes a great snack! Have you tried Crispy Baked Everything Kale Chips yet? They are ah-maz-ing low carb, super crunchy savory snacks.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy kale? Let me know in the comments below!