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Jun 15, 2011 08:20 AM


Hi all. Can the stems on kale be cooked and eaten, or are they always really tough and inedible?


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  1. They can be eaten, but they'll always be the toughest part of the plant. Most recipes remove them, though when I'm cooking just for myself, I often don't bother - my tolerance for toughness and chewiness is unusually high, it seems.

    Braising kale for a long time as you would with collard greens leaves the stem tender enough that I'd bet most people would eat it without complaint. It seems to be more common to braise kale for something like 10-15 minutes and remove the stems though.

    1. I recently had pickled kale stems at a restaurant. They were pretty good, so I put that in my mental "try this at home" file.

      1. I recently made a pasta sauce with kale and removed the stem part below the leaf but left the rest of the stem that ran through the leaf. it was fine.

        3 Replies
            1. re: twilight goddess

              I sauteed diced pancetta with some hot pepper flakes then added chopped shallots and garlic. When they were sufficiently sweated I added the chopped kale and cooked until tender to the bite. Then I added some pasta water to make a bit of a sauce; tossed with the al dente pasta and some grated grana padano. It was delicious.

          1. I always eat the stems, I find them to be deliciously crunchy. And I don't bother boiling/braising it, I just add a little water to the pan and do a quick pan steam/saute. If you think it's too much to chew just cut it into tiny pieces.

            1 Reply
            1. re: joonjoon

              Plenty of people would still call that a braise, at least as far greens go.

            2. I always 'do' Kale Brazilian style. That is, fold over the leave, slice out the stem, stack the folded leaves atop each other. Then tightly wrap them into a slender cylinder, much like rolling a cigar, then cutting them chiffonade-style 1/8" thick. In Brazil, there are big baskets of already chiffonaded kale for purchase at markets.