Recipes: Kale, Four Ways

Incredibly versatile, kale varieties can be used interchangeably in most recipes, including these classic, easy preparations from Chef Cary Neff.


Crispy Kale Chips With Sea Salt

An indulgent side dish for dinner — or a healthier snack alternative to chips. Roasting brings out smoky, buttery flavors and creates an irresistible, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Roasting to the point of crispness at high heat does involve some nutritional sacrifices, but it’s such a simple and delicious preparation (and one that has earned kale so many new fans), it’s worth making now and then. You can also cook longer at a lower temperature, if you prefer. And if you’re not afraid of fat, you can be more generous with the oil. For a twist, substitute Cajun spice or lemon pepper for the salt.

Serves two:

4 cups kale (1 large bunch)
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Wash the kale. Fold each leaf in half and tear or cut out the tough stem, then stack and slice into manageable-size pieces.
  • Toss pieces in a bowl with olive oil until coated, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Roast for five minutes, then turn carefully with metal tongs and roast another seven to 10 minutes until kale begins turning brown, crisp and brittle.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve promptly.

Asian Greens

This quick sauté works well with kale or virtually any dark leafy green (spinach, Swiss chard, collards, dandelion greens, etc.) to create a healthy, delicious side dish.
By varying the seasonings (subbing in chili-garlic sauce, curry paste or peanut sauce for the soy sauce, for example), you can create an eclectic array of variations.

This basic preparation (sans seasonings) can also work to prep kale for using in other recipes, including a delicious egg scramble (see Web Extra for recipe).

For another classic preparation, sauté kale with small amounts of bacon for flavor, then lightly braise in vegetable stock to soften.

Serves eight:

12 cups kale (3 large bunches)
1 tbs. sesame oil
1 cup diced yellow onions
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tbs. tamari soy sauce
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

  • Wash kale, remove stems and cut into 1-inch squares.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Add onions and garlic and sauté for one to two minutes. Stir in kale, ginger and vegetable stock.
  • Cook until the kale starts to wilt, about two minutes. Stir in tamari soy sauce and pepper. Remove from heat and serve.

Raw Kale Salad

Combining finely chopped kale with lemon and olive oil—then gently massaging them together—breaks down kale’s stiffness and bitterness, leaving you with tender greens bursting with flavor. Don’t skimp on the chopping: Not having to chew through large chunks of raw kale will increase your eating pleasure.

Serves four:

1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 tbs. finely shredded basil

  • Place the kale in mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, oil, garlic, and salt. Massage the kale to soften for about one minute.
  • Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
  • Allow the salad to rest and soften for about 15 minutes before serving.

Kale, Mushroom and Cream Cheese Scramble

Sautéed, steamed or braised kale (especially refrigerated leftovers) is an easy and delectable addition to your breakfast eggs—or just about any other meal.

Serves one: 

1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup julienned kale
1/4 cup diced fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 tbs. finely chopped green onion
1/4 cup small diced tomatoes
2 eggs, lightly whipped
1 tbs. milk
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs. cream cheese

  • Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add vegetables and sauté until they begin to sweat, about five minutes.
  • Whip the eggs with the milk and season with salt and pepper. Slowly pour into the pan with vegetables. With a heat-resistant spatula, gently push one edge of the egg into the center of the pan, while tilting the pan to allow the uncooked egg to flow in underneath. Repeat with the other edges, until there’s no liquid left.
  • Turn off the heat and add the cream cheese, gently stirring and turning the egg until all the uncooked parts become firm. Place on plate and serve with fresh fruit

These recipes originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Experience Life

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