I hear lots of chatter about what to do with kale. It’s one of the most nutritious plants to be including into your diet, we all know this, but what in the world do we do with it to make it more enjoyable to eat?
First of all, don’t let the overall girth of this plant overwhelm you. It reduces down to a manageable size when it is prepared as a salad with dressing or cooked into your meal. Believe me, you will need a few large handfuls to work with.
Secondly, you’re going to need more than you think. Give yourself a little more room in the garden for growing a variety of kale species. They are beautiful plants and throw off lots of different colors, shapes and textures. If you have farm animals, they will love you for the extra nutritious treat.
Lastly, kale is a little up tight and just needs to relax. Don’t we all? Preparing the kale can be a little time consuming, so get into a meditative state of mind. That helps the process go smoother and gives the kale a nice vibe while you’re working with it.
STEP ONE – CLEAN
I process a large amount all at once, even If I don’t need to use it all in the same day. The rest can be stored in the fridge for later. It keeps very well for several days. Plastic bags work, but a glass bowl with a lid is better, or you can wrap it in a wet cloth.
- Begin by placing your largest pot in the sink and fill it with cold water.
- Grab a stalk of kale and check for bugs. It may need a pre-rinse if it’s kind of buggy, no big deal!
- Strip the leaf off the spine. It comes off in a quick zip if you grab from the bottom and pull it through your fingers. Drop the leaves into your pot of cold water.
- Once your pot is full of kale, swoosh the water around and drain. Rinse and repeat as needed.
STEP TWO – DRY
I use different techniques depending on how much I need to process at once. If it’s a small amount, a salad spinner works great. You don’t want to stuff it too full though, or it won’t dry as well, but you can put small handfuls in and repeat.
If you have a very large batch to dry, here’s what I do.
- Grab a nice and clean, big bathroom towel.
- Lay it out on your countertop and spread the kale evenly on top.
- Roll up the towel with all the kale in it, tuck in the sides, and fold your roll in half.
- I then proceeded to lay myself over the kale roll to effectively dry the kale as I’m pressing on it. You need to turn it over and get both sides. It’s not perfect, but good enough!
- Alternatively, you can leave the towel open and leave the kale spread out with a small fan blowing on it. Maneuver the leaves around to assist with drying all sides.
STEP THREE – CHOP
The art of chopping kale is not so difficult. Use a large cutting board and pile on a large handful of kale. Bundle the kale tightly into a roll so that it mostly fits into your hand that is not using the knife. Begin make thin slices/ribbons. Continue to grab more into the bundle as you work your way through to the end.
Here is where some people lose interest in all this fussing over preparing kale. Hang in there, it’s worth it! Your next step is to decide if you want to make a salad with it or cook it.
A finer chopped kale is better suited for salad, due to the ease of chewing. Use a large bowl and fill it with all your chopped kale. Be sure to lay down all the dressing additives before mixing. This is not an exact quantitative recipe, but you’ll get the idea and can follow along.
- Drizzle oil of preferred choice. I use a high-quality olive oil for the rich flavor or avocado oil if wanting a lighter feel.
- Add an acidic such as apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice or a combination.
- Add salt and pepper. I also add lemon pepper to the mix.
- Add onion and garlic powder. The powder works better than fresh in my opinion because it mixes the flavor more evenly into each bite.
- This is the most important step. Massage your kale. Be thorough and generous in your time here. This is helping to get the leaves to let down and be soft, pliable and edible.
- At this point you can get creative with the extra finishing touches. Here’s what I do, and my family goes nuts for this.
- Add some parmesan or feta cheese, dried cranberries, and hemp hearts.
That’s it! You’re done. Just let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to chill. This might last a few days, but I bet it will be gobbled up by the end of the following day.
Another quick tip is to use the salad as a topping for your green salad. It gives a nice dimensional layer to your simple bed of greens.
Cooking with kale is a little simpler because it literally can be added to whatever you’re making.
It goes especially well with soups, in a casserole, or mixed with sauteed vegetables and rice. If you’re not too intimidated, it can even be used as a pizza topping. You don’t need as much when you’re adding it to the main meal preparations.
The bottom line is this…
Kale is friendly with lots of charm, it just needs a little love!
When you’re comfortable with these basic recipes, definitely give kale chips a try. This is the most decadent place kale can ever reach. I’ll be speaking more about this in a future post.
Have fun with this and I hope my tricks can help motivate you to try adding more kale to your diet!