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Kale Preparation

Any suggestions on how to cook this stuff? I love it, but every time I prepare it (saute), it comes out so darn tough. I'm sure boiling it would be the easiest method, but a lot of nutrients are lost when it is boiled, which is why I always saute it. The last time I prepared it, I must have let it go for 20 minutes. I stopped the cooking process because it began to look unappetizing (deep, deep green, almost black) and it was still tough! Any suggestions besides eating collard greens or spinach instead? :D

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  1. How are you prepping it before cooking?
    I think with kale , low and slow is the way to go. Steamed or sauteed with liquid.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ROCKLES

      I'm with rockles on this. Garlic is great if you braise it--chicken stock and/or bacon is great for flavor. Sauteing it with no liquid just won't work if you want it tender. (You can also separate the leaves from the stems for a different dish.)

      1. re: ROCKLES

        As far as prep goes, I just cut the leaves from the stem then do a course chop. I saute them down with garlic and oil, just as I do with spinach.

      2. kale chips?

        Honestly, I think the toothsomeness is part of the allure of kale, but I understand it's not for everyone. It might be the variety--IME the lactinato (dinosaur) kale is toughest. Some of the less wrinkly varieties seem less so. Collard greens are typically tougher yet and want to be braised, so I wouldn't go there.
        Along with spinach, chard is a good dark green leafy that's much more tender and perhaps more to your liking.

        As far as altering your kale cooking, I would suggest going with a smaller chop or shred vs. larger. Don't be afraid to go all the way to chiffonade and see if that suits you better. I've seen recipes for raw salads of kale that way. Never tried that, but it's a quick saute friendly prep, too. You could also try blanching it first. The trade off between tender and bright green is always going to be an issue.

        3 Replies
        1. re: splatgirl

          Could you blanch it then ice to retain the color? Then continue the cooking process?

          1. re: ROCKLES

            that is what I was thinking, yes. Blanch and then introduce to a super hot skillet and some fat...

          2. re: splatgirl

            It might be the variety--IME the lactinato (dinosaur) kale is toughest.
            really? i think the curly kale varieties are much tougher.

          3. If you want to retain the nutrients and make it tender, just chop it and stir it into a soup. You'll eat the broth to get the nutrients and end up with some nice mouthfuls of yummy kale. It's great in potato soup.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Isolda

              A soup was my thought too. It is actually the only way I've cooked kale (it's not my favorite, plus I favor the quick sauté or blanch/saute for my greens). I did a nice spicy tomato based soup with zucchini, lentils, barley, carrots, and kale. I cut it into wide ribbons and let it cook for the last hour of the soup. It came out quite delicious, which was great for me, because I just bought it on a whim.

            2. Highly reccommend blanching it in boiling water first. You might lose a bit of nutritional value, but it will taste better and you will eat it - worth it IMO. I haven't had "al dente" kale that I enjoyed very much, either. Now, what I really need to try soon is the crispy cooked kale in the oven that I've seen recently on a Jacques Pepin show.

              1. Is it lacinato kale? If so, make a salad : cu tit in strips, add chopped good black olives, parm and dress with olive oil and sherry vinegar, let sit one hour before eating.

                4 Replies
                1. re: magiesmom

                  Another really nice dressing is just lemon juice and a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper

                    1. re: DrMag

                      I just found a nice addition, which is capers. They made a nice little salty, briny pop of flavor in a thinly sliced kale salad with oil and lemon juice.

                  1. The two most popular ways I prepare kale are 1: kale "pesto." Stem it, then parboil it 6 minutes, shock it with cold water. Press/squeeze dry. Process with fresh garlic, salt, and enough olive oil to get to a spreadable consistency. Spread on buttered toast rounds or table water biscuits. Non-kale people LOVE this. Or 2: stem it, steam it for about 6 minutes, toss with a vinaigrette of olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice. Again, a winner for the non-kale crowd.

                    1. I don't know how many nutrients are lost with boiling, but I loved it boiled for a few minutes then simmered until tender with pork hocks-based stock added to the water from boiling, along with garlic, onion, and chili peppers. Finally, a bit of sugar to cut down on the bitterness and a touch of cider or wine vinegar for a little tang.
                      Just sup on that pot liquor along with the greens to maximize the nutritional punch. Mmm

                      1. Steam, then toss and marinate in a soy, vinegar dressing with some minced garlic and salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I have not cooked kale, but I frequently braise collard greens in chicken broth if I have any (otherwise, water) with garlic, pepper, soy sauce, etc. Whatever sounds good at the moment. I cut them in strips.

                        2. Yes kale is super nutritious but it is tough. So unless you are going to braise it in a bit of liquid that you will be serving it in, save the Kale for soup if you are concerned about loosing nutrients in the cooking water. You can always save your cooking water to use for soup. Have you tried beet greens? While not bitter, they are tender and super delicious. I just saute onions in butter and olive oil 'til almost caramelized and then throw a bunch of chopped garlic in for about 30 seconds before throwing in the greens and putting on the lid to wilt. You can add things like black bean paste, a bit of soy sauce, etc. but they don't need much else besides salt and pepper.

                          1. A quick massage is the answer to tough kale:

                            Raw Kale Salad with Oranges

                            1 bunch kale
                            1 tablespoons olive oil
                            1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
                            1 lime, juiced
                            1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
                            1 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped
                            1 orange, peeled and sliced
                            . Chop the kale into thin ribbons (almost like a chiffonade)
                            . Drizzle the kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
                            . Massage the kale with your hands to soften it, then allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes
                            . Add the lime juice, vinegar, onion and orange
                            . Allow to marinate for 10 minutes
                            . Serve

                            - my favorite surprisingly great Kale♥ preparation:
                            1 head kale, shredded

                            1 avocado chopped
juice of one lemon

                            1 c tomato diced

                            salt to taste

                            In mixing bowl sprinkle the lemon juice over the kale and then add the avocado. Using your hands, thoroughly massage the avocado into the kale until it "relaxes".
                            Taste and add salt. Mix in the diced tomato.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: Cynsa

                              Cynsa, what a beautiful combo, the avocado and kale! I've been using avocado in place of olive oil every now and then for the fat on my green salads (just to switch up my healthy fats)...makes perfect sense to go with lemon and avocado with the kale!!! Thanks!

                              1. re: Val

                                Agreed. I make kale salads with lime juice/olive oil and also massage it. The avocado sounds really good!

                                1. re: Fromageball

                                  Another vote for massaged kale. My favourite dressing is heavy on fresh lemon juice with some salt and garlic and a smidge of olive oil. It really doesn't need anything more (I prefer this to an avocado dressing). I recently made a fabulous salad with massaged kale with a lemon vinaigrette, pomegranate arils and garlic-roasted butternut squash. It was a hit over the holidays.


                                  1. re: blinknoodle

                                    That sounds totally delish, blink!!! Thank you! I have a butternut squash that I bought today at FM...must try this out!

                                    1. re: blinknoodle

                                      I tried a kale salad with raw kale strips massaged with a thick dressing of grated pecarino,olive oil,lemon juice,sat, pepper and pepper flakes and just before serving mix in some toasted panko bread crumbs.

                                2. re: Cynsa

                                  It really is magical what happens to the tough kale when the avocado and lemon juice come into play. Love this salad!

                                  1. re: Cynsa

                                    Do these recipes work with curly kale? Or just with smoother-leaved kales?

                                    1. re: racer x

                                      I haven't tried to make this recipe with smooth kale, just curly kale.

                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                        Thanks for replying. I just made Cynsa's salad with curly kale, avocado, and lemon juice. Didn't have tomato juice, so I used some seeded roma tomatoes. Added some raw garlic.
                                        Between the lemon juice and the tomato, it was a little too sharp, so I added some sweetener.
                                        Now that was pretty good. I'll add it to my greens rotation.

                                        1. re: racer x

                                          Good for you racer...one of the best things you can do for yourself, adding kale to your diet...it is SO awesome and relatively inexpensive!

                                  2. Sauteed with olive oil, a ton of garlic, white wine, and a splash of red wine vinegar.
                                    I find that cutting it up into smaller pieces helps it cook faster. No need to boil or "braise."

                                    1. My favorite kale preparation is "crispy kale". Cut into thin strips, toss with olive oil and salt. Spread onto a cookie sheet, then roast at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until it is crisp but not yet brown. I could easily down an entire bunch of kale that way. It probably has less nutrients than eating raw kale, but I see it more as a french fry alternative than salad replacement.

                                      1. blanch quickly and dress with a hot tamari-sesame dressing

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                          Yummy, similar to my favorite kale salad @ Whole Foods. Just add julienne nori strips or furikake.

                                        2. Wonderful in Portuguese linguica and kale soup or with any other sausage you like in soup. I've used spicy Italian and Aidell's chicken, cheese and habanero and it's been hard to keep in the fridge--family nukes it for a snack all day. Chicken stock from can and WELL-WASHED kale, cut in strips off of tough leaf ribs. Onion, garlic, potatoes, other veggies as you wish.

                                          With pre-cooked sausages, it's a quick, hearty, tasty meal.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: rccola

                                            Caldo Verde, SO GOOD & hearty cold weather food.


                                            Good with linguisa as well.

                                          2. Try simply buying young kale. :-)

                                            Chopped up (often sort of a coarse chiffonade), simmered in quick soups, but FAR LESS THAN 20 min. The slight resistance remaining in the veggie is desired. Or, the stems removed first, then chopped, then simmered in soup for even less time.

                                            Leaflets/lobes plucked off the stem into bite-sized pieces, steamed, drizzled with sauce of one's choice - e.g. oyster sauce, ponzu sauce, light soy + chili sauce; plus ground pepper; etc. Ditto with plucked leaflets blanched in OILED water, *definitely* less than 20 min, more like no more than 5-6 minutes at most.
                                            Whole baby kale leaves (typically 3-4 inches in total length) are especially nice done this way.
                                            NOTE: leaving kale around esp. in hot/warm water, darkens the leafy material progressively then turns them dark greyish-green, undesirable.

                                            Finely chopped/"sort-of" chiffonaded kale in stir-fries with various stuff, usually w/ sliced meat of one's choice, with all sorts of sauces and condiments. Try it with sambal belacan.

                                            I dislike kale in long-simmered stews, braises, that sort of thing.

                                            1. I like to chop it, and then dress it with a dressing made of two parts olive oil, one part Bragg liquid amino and enough nutritional yeast to make it creamy. For some reason the dressing seems to tenderize the raw kale. I've been bringing this to potlucks for 15 years to rave reviews.

                                              1. I saute some onions ( slightly browned), add some chopped garlic,some sliced red pepper, a can of lentils (drained ) and roughly chopped kale and some chopped basil.Let it cook for a few mins and then add some feta and put a lid cook for about 2-3 mins. Tastes yum as a warm salad or you can mix any pasta with it to make a meal out of it.But basically stir frying the kale.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: shakkar

                                                  I love kale and eat it a few times a week. These are my two basic preparations:

                                                  1.. Version of Catalan spinach dish: Fry onions until deep brown. While they brown, boil kale for about 4-5 minutes. Wring out and chop. Soak raisins in balsamic or sherry vinegar. Add kale and raisins to onions in pan and toss together. Salt.

                                                  2. Chop kale in fine ribbons. Put generous amount of olive oil in pan on medium high heat. Add kale, a bunch at a time. Fry until crispy. Some will turn brown but I don't care. Just cook down until it is the texture you like. Can add a touch of sherry/water but that will take away some of the crispiness that I like.

                                                  3. Bonus idea: Use kale instead of spinach in this fabulous recipe, a version of Spanish migas with chick peas, bread crumbs, and chorizo, along with the kale.


                                                  4. Second bonus idea: Use in a version of trinxat, Catalan potato and bacon cake. (I use recipe in The New Spanish Table cookbook)

                                                2. I eat kale salad at least 2-3 times a week. The key thing to do is to de stem the kale, then chop into ribbons and like the previous poster mentioned: massage, massage, massage that kale! I like to let the leaves marinate for a little while after massaging with EVOO and lemon.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: rararachel

                                                    I also have enjoyed this salad...it is DELICIOUS and so simple! Have been buying organic dino kale at the Farmers Market since October...fabulous stuff with great nutrition...! Lightly cooked in a soup or stew is awesome, also raw in that massaged salad ... also sauteed with garlic and onion and a little vinegar...!

                                                  2. The best way I've had kale is from a very well known Vancouver chef - Vikram Vij - the owner of Vij's -

                                                    Stem the kale but leave the leaves :-) whole - marinate for at least 1 hour in coconut milk, lime juice and a little cayenne - 1 can coconut, 1 lime to 1 bunch kale - Curly Kale is best and I like red kale -
                                                    Then grill on a very hot grill (outside is best - or turn on your fan) - make sure the edges of the leaves get blackened - it doesn't take long - it's delicious!!!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: harryharry

                                                      I've made a bunch different things from vij's cookbooks and this is one of my favourite ways to prepare kale. Yum!

                                                    2. After braising the kale with a bit of stock, it turned out much better. Thank you all.

                                                      1. Four ways that I cook kale:

                                                        1)braised w/onions, ham hock(or bacon), and chicken broth. Topped w/ cider vinegar

                                                        2) Mixed in mashed potatoes w/leeks and onion.

                                                        3) Stirred in soup w/sweet potatoes and sausage.
                                                        4) Crispy kale chips. Have to try the suggestion of cutting it in thin strips before roasting.

                                                        1. My favorite ways with kale are in soups or braised. Sauteed kale will always be tough...kale needs longer cooking than the typical saute. At least that's what I've experienced.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: The Professor

                                                            Glad to hear you say it. Every time I saute kale, it ranges between just OK to total suckage. Doesn't matter if I have parboiled it first or not.

                                                            I have found the only decent way for me to make it is either kale chips, or my new favorite...chiffonade the raw kale, mix w/ cooked wild rice and a vinaigrette, allow to marinate in the vinaigrette an hour or so before eating.

                                                          2. I love it in soups and added to bean dishes (some of these mentioned earlier).

                                                            Another technique - I like small pieces in my soup and beans - so you can actually freeze the leaves until the are hard, take them out of the freezer and quickly crush with your hands and you will have perfect little shards of kale to mix into your dishes.

                                                            1. A Southern friend taught me to make greens back in my college days, and though I've since substituted OO and garlic for his bacon and onions, I've been using his method ever since: heat some garlic in oil, then throw in the wet kale and let it braise in its own liquid ~20-30 minutes, season, and that's it..

                                                              You've got to remove the tough stems from the leaves first, though, and here's a neat folky trick for that: toss your kale in the sink and wash it well. Then pick up a leaf and hold it by the tip, tip up, and just rip the leaf away from the stem on one side, pulling down like tearing paper. It comes off in one piece with remarkable ease, and it's kind of amazing to see. Then turn the leaf around and do the other side.

                                                              Saute your garlic in a pot containing enough OO to coat the bottom (OO/butter also works well), then toss in the washed and de-stemmed kale. The leaves will have enough water on them to provide sufficient braising liquid. If not, toss in a little more water. Cover the pot and let them cook. When they're soft enough, after about 20-30 minutes or so, eyeball the amount of pot liquor, and toss in the appropriate amount of dry bouillon and pepper flakes (optional). Cook for another 5 minutes and that's it.

                                                              1. I just sautee it as well. But I always cut out the tough spine of each leaf. Takes a little more time to prep, but it's done in no time. Either tear up or shred and sautee until wilted. I do this for store bought and the kale in my garden when in season.

                                                                1. I mostly saute it, too, but I put a splash of some sort of liquid (stock, water, etc.) in the pan and put the lid on for a few minutes, too. That helps it to be more tender without steaming it or cooking it until it looks sad and brown.

                                                                  I've been on a big kale kick lately. Last night I put it in a curry with some chickpeas, and tonight I'm going to stir-fry some and make a black bean sauce for it to have alongside a chicken stir-fry.

                                                                  1. Oak at 14th in Boulder, CO has the best raw kale salad I have ever tried:


                                                                    I do it at home with crushed Marcona almonds instead and it gets rave reviews!

                                                                    1. I actually have a great way how to make kale quesadillas:
                                                                      chop the kale and sautee into the pan with grape seed oil, 1 garlic clove and half onion, first sautee the onion, garlic and when it's caramelized add the chopped kale and sautee until it's tender, add some black ground pepper and sea salt. Then make your quesadillas: corn tortilla with mozzarella cheese and add the kale mix. This is a great way to introduce the kale to your kids, for me my husband it's mexican so he loves this quesadillas and i made him the kale quesadillas and he loved it.
                                                                      Try it, it's super easy fast meal.
                                                                      Let me know how it turned out.

                                                                      1. Portuguese kale soup! Also raw in salads like http://www.food.com/recipe-finder/all.... Either way, remove the stem and slice it in thin slivers.