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Kale Conundrum?

I love kale.

Kale with his pack of kale seeds. (Freeman photo by Tania Barricklo) Kale with his pack of kale seeds. (Freeman photo by Tania Barricklo)

I love it so much that I named my dog after it. It's turned out to be his favorite snack as well. I'm not making that up! I actually trained him not to chase our chickens by tempting him with "kale bones". That's what we call the woody stem part of the leaf, but to Kale (the dog) those are crunchy kale bones.

Kale (the leafy green) is easy to grow, produces for a long season, is ornamental, edible, and incredibly nutritious, but I'm hearing from gardeners that it often winds up rotting in the garden or wilting in the fridge. Why? Because of people's kale conundrums. What to do with all that leafy goodness?

First off, harvest leaves by picking them from the outside in. Always leave new growth in the center of the plant. You can pick the leaves at any size. In general, the younger leaves are more tender and the stems get tougher as they age.

015Here are some of the many ways' we eat kale. Please add you favorite way to eat, prepare, or store kale. Thanks!

If you're like Kale (the dog) you'll eat it raw. Raw baby kale leaves are great in a salad mix. I didn't used to like the larger fronds raw until Sarah Snow (who designed the shape of our seed packs and is in the midst of doing the layouts for next year's Art Packs) made me a kale smoothie. Just add fresh kale to your regular summer smoothie and you get all the benefits of raw kale in a refreshing drink. You can make kale chips in a solar dehydrator, oven, or electric dehydrator. Just brush the leaves with a little oil and let them dry out on low temp. They will turn crispy and make a great snack. One of my favorite things to do with the flatter kale leaves is remove the kale bone, (save them for Kale), roll the leaves together and make thin slices. This creates long noodle like green strips which I braise with sesame oil and sesame seeds. I add a little tamari at the end and serve it as a warm side salad.

What do you do with kale?


11 thoughts on “Kale Conundrum?”

  • Alice

    raw kale salad! cut kale into ribbons & then tiny pieces, mush in a soft avocado, olive oil, course sea salt and other goodies like toasted nuts, tomato, ginger or garlic, cayenne, lemon. [I just posted on facebook: " I'm not vegan, or a raw foodie (don't get me started...) but EVERYONE should try this recipe. Seriously. Delicious. No cooking involved, although I often mix in toasted almonds or walnuts or sunflower seeds (using toaster oven). I usually don't add tomatoes, and have made with just olive oil and salt, with/without avocado, a tad of fresh grated ginger etc. Throw in some soaked bulgar or cous cous for a whole no-stove-needed meal. Believe it or not, a great dish to bring to a party! People can't believe how good it is!"] http://happyfoody.com/2008/02/12/raw-kale-avocado-salad/

  • Elana

    Julienne, wilt down & add to scrambled eggs is our fave...

    but we also add to soups, or substitute for many dishes that call for spinach.

  • Sandra Mort

    I usually saute it with lots of fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil. but my SO prefers beet greens and swiss chard. As long as we're eating veggies, I'm not griping :)

    What does it taste like in a smoothie and what else do you put in the smoothie with it? Did you use a vitamix or a regular blender?

  • Alice

    or spicy saag paneer made with kale [any good Indian cookbook recipe] u can make it vegan by using tahini instead of cream cheese, and baked tofu cubes for the 'cheese'.

  • Anna

    I like the flatter kale, better chips. It is easy to freeze. Just lightly steam and put in freezer bags. Put it into pasta, cold or hot. Steam with oil and vinegar.

    It is one of the few greens that can tolerate the heat. My spinach and Broccoli Rabi has been long gone while I have just planted more kale where the spinach was.

  • Brainiac Books

    We love potato-and-kale soup. Raw kale in manageable pieces is added to a potato soup base (butter, flour, milk or chicken broth, spuds, red pepper flakes, garlic). Delicious cool-weather supper!

  • lagusta

    Kale bones! I love it. One thing I think people don't realize about kale is how perfect it is with vinegar. Not only does vinegar help your body absorb all the great calcium in kale, but it also perks up the flavor. Like Sandra, I also love to saute it with lots of garlic and lots of olive oil, yum! I feel like most "health food" restaurants serve up kale that is barely cooked, and that's what's contributed to kale's reputation as not-so-tasty. But when you cook it with lots of garlic, maybe some caramelized onions, and olive oil until it turns that drab color (alas--the flavor is worth it) and is truly tender and cooked through, its flavor really shines. Then adding some vinegar really perks up all the flavors. I use homemade garlic vinegar, but apple cider or even balsamic are nice too. Yum, kale!! Awww, and kale the pup is adorable too, of course.

  • kara

    I love kale! Here are a few good recipes:
    Crispy Kale (tastes like potato chips)

    Kale Salad

    Spicy Sesame Kale

    Plus I chop it up and freeze it and throw it in just about any dish in the winter (soups, meatloaf, mac & cheese).

  • Kristen Jasionowski

    Kale is my favorite vegetable! I use it in almost every meal. With eggs, I just throw it in the pan and cover to steam for the last few minutes. Or with young leaves with more tender stalks, you can crack an egg right on the leaf as an interesting presentation. In grain, vegetable, stir fry dishes, just put some chopped up leaves in just before taking it out of the pan. Sautee it with some olive oil and garlic. Steam and serve with lemon juice.
    Then there's my famous "massaged kale salad": chop or tear the leaves, and combine with vinegar or lemon juice, olive oil, and a little salt in a bowl. Then, using your hands, "massage" it together. It's actually more of a scrunching - you're trying to get the salty-oily-acidity to break down the leaves a bit. Then I like to add apples or dried cranberries or nuts for a winter salad, but you can add whatever you want. It's a good way to break down some of the fibrous quality that some people don't have a taste for.

  • MEileen

    Kale Soup was my Grandmother's 'go to' when money was scarce and healthy food for 10 was needed!

    She boiled up chicken - or chicken carcass and scraped all the meat off the bones to enrich the broth. Then root vegetables and lastly lots of very fine ribbons of kale! The soup was filling, healthy and beautiful. It provided nutrition during "both of the wars and the Depression" as she would say. No one went hungry, no one fell ill. Kale could also appear - again cut in fine julienne - mixed in with mashed potatoes, her German version of Irish potatoes and cabbage. Of course in her house any vegetable could be pickled and served as a relish. No meal was complete without an offering or two or three of a pickle or relish! 12 to 24 hours in vinegar, sugar, salt and chopped onion and the Green relish was great with pork!

    Ask your Grandmothers and Aunties and the women you visit in the nursing homes and Senior centers about how they cooked. Oh the stories you will get! Stories of their lives and their families and their food. And how they love to share their stories of home made cookery and gardening.

    Enjoy your Gardens and your 'Grands!

  • Nancy

    Early morning omelet. Pick lots of kale fresh from the garden. Remove stems, and any caterpillars or larvae. Chop leaves into small pieces. Saute in bacon grease, bacon bits, and chopped up veggies, maybe peppers or onions (don't forget to include freshly picked Daikons and shallots). Set aside.

    Fry egg in small well seasoned cast iron skillet, well greased.

    Plate the egg and gently fold in the kale veggie sauté. Great start to the day.


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