I have been eating kale consistently since late 2014 - about six months before my wedding when I embarked on my first real quest to eat clean and green. At first, kale wasn’t my favorite. It felt like the kind of low-grade green that belonged where I first met it: as a garnish next to an orange twist at a greasy diner that served icky things like deep-fried scrapple. I worked through my prejudices, though, given that everywhere I looked there seemed to be a list of superfoods with kale at the tippity top. When I learned I was pregnant with Daisy, I created a spreadsheet of all the foods that contain the best nutrients and vitamins babies need when they are in utero and I planned every meal of every day to ensure I was packing as much of those into my body as possible. (I’ll never know how much that careful eating may have helped our girl beat the odds when she was later sick) Again I found myself consistently weaving kale into every meal plan.
Over time, I have learned to love Kale. Kale, much like my husband, is full of idiosyncrasies and nuances that are lovable once you understand them and learn how to work with them. If you are good to your kale, it will be good to you. And this is a relationship worth investing in, truly, because kale is SO nutritionally valuable!
Things to know: kale is a really strong leaf and is often best when it’s been tenderized by massage, marinade or heat. What I love about kale is that it stands up to a fierce dressing or a warm salad ingredient like chicken. It doesn’t wither and die immediately like arugula or mesclun – and - it keeps for a solid week in the fridge! Kale can be bitter so it pairs well with fruit like apples, pears or clementines and dried fruit like apricots and raisins.
I am sharing my favorite preparations here because I love kale and you should too. It will help you live longer - and I want you all to live longer.
Kale Salad with Pulled Chicken, Clementines, Carrots & Tahini Soy Rice Wine Vinaigrette
I almost always have a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods in the fridge. It’s easier to get my husband to eat salad when there is protein involved so I like to shred chicken in salads wherever possible and in this case, it’s SO delicious. This is the kind of salad that you are going to want to make again immediately after you make it the first time - it's that good!
1 big bunch curly kale, stems removed as much as possible
2 clementines, peeled & segmented (an orange would work too)
½ rotisserie chicken, pulled
2 cups shredded carrot
1 cup toasted peanuts
1 tblsp sesame seeds
Tahini Soy Rice Wine Vinaigrette
(These are approximate as I never measure when I cook – just combine things to taste and add as necessary)
3 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon coconut sugar or 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tablespoons tamari (or low sodium soy sauce)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon yuzu hot sauce
Combine ingredients in a bowl then toss with vinaigrette. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes if you have the time to let the dressing work its way into the kale and relax it. This is just as delicious eaten right away though – and it’s a good workout for the jaw 😊
Kale, Sausage & Kitchen Sink Soup
I started making this about two months ago after Nick had been hassling me for weeks about over-buying produce (specifically kale) so I was on a desperate quest to empty the refrigerator before the weekend without throwing anything away. I’d also recently seen a post about a similar soup from Cindy, an old friend whose daughter I babysat for many years, who is a gardener and wonderful home cook. I followed some of her recipe and improvised the rest and the final product was delicious. Between Nick, myself, and the nanny, it's always gone in two days. This is a great weekday lunch and can be separated out into soup containers and reheated. Lasts in the fridge for about a week.
1 TB coconut oil
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
6 heads of garlic, minced
2 large shallots, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 head cauliflower
1 butternut squash
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1 head kale, cleaned & de-stemmed
2 chicken sausages
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1. Chop cauliflower and butternut squash into 1-inch cubes, toss in extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper until thoroughly mixed. Roast at 400 degrees until golden brown.
2. In a large soup pot, melt 1 TB coconut oil over medium high heat. Squeeze chicken sausage out of casing and form into 1-inch balls. Add sausage to pot and cook until browned on all sides. Set aside.
3. Add garlic, shallots and onions to pot with a little extra coconut oil and stir until translucent. Make sure to scrape up the brown bits from the sausage as you go. Add stock and water. Bring to a boil. Add bouillon, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper then continue to cook over medium low heat.
4. Add roasted vegetables, beans, corn, chunks of kale and sausage to pot. Bring soup to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover. Add water if necessary to keep all veggies submerged in liquid. Let simmer for 30 mins to an hour. Taste and season as necessary and enjoy!
Kale Fried Rice by Candice Kumai
This is one of my absolute FAVORITE recipes. I add a bunch of extra soy sauce because I’m a girl who loves salt and it’s EXTRA yummy that way. We also use chicken sausage with sundried tomatoes from Trader Joes. I tried making it with hot sausage once and it was not the same. Too greasy. This recipe is also really delicious as a vegetarian dish.
All-Dressed Kale Chips from Oh She Glows
There are a bunch of ways to make kale chips and they’re pretty much always delicious so long as they’re tossed with salt and pepper. If you’re low on time, toss with EVOO, S&P and roast at 400 until crispy-looking and you’re good to go. If you have a smidge more time and a decent spice cabinet, go this route. I looove the Oh She Glows blog and these tips for flawless kale chips are top-notch!
Sauteed Kale with Garlic and Olive Oil
This is super basic but super yummy. Everything is better with garlic and if you think you really hate kale, try it with garlic. You can’t possibly hate it after that. I promise.
Happy kale-ing my friends!