I always thought kale was ridiculously expensive and/or just plain inaccessible in this country but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Two varieties (two!) have been showing up in my supermarket with price tags that aren’t rage-inducing and it makes me so very happy!
I mean, have you heard how good it is for you? It’s basically a nutritional superstar and I’ve been trying to incorporate it into my diet as much as I can. I’m happy to report that it’s been easier than I thought it would be. My lack of acquaintance with this crucifer had me thinking that maybe I had to learn whole new recipes or methods of preparation but I find that it’s really just like any other green leafy vegetable with a slightly tougher texture. I find the flavor fairly neutral (as neutral as plant life can be) with a bit of a sour note. But more as we go along.
So how to enjoy kale. Let’s count the ways. I love making smoothies at home so a green smoothie was not only on the horizon for me, it was the first thing I did with kale using only the leaves and soft stems.
I make green smoothies to taste just like a yummy fruit smoothie so I can’t say this tasted any different, just that it was delicious and even healthier to boot! When using greens though, I like to add more things that will brighten the smoothie so that’s usually extra pineapple and a couple more splashes of orange juice. On an aesthetic level, berries are not a good idea – mine have come out an unappetizing purplish-gray.
If you insist on berries, perhaps you can make a smoothie bowl and add them on top. Mine has muesli and chia seeds.
Salads are another way to enjoy kale. I’ve seen preparations online that include marinating and even massaging the kale with the dressing but I didn’t find that necessary with my kale. I just treat it like regular salad greens.
Its tougher texture keeps it sturdier for longer in salads and it even stands up to more aggressive dressings like a spicy gochujang (Korean chili paste) one.
This is a Korean dish of blanched squid and assorted vegetables in a sweet-sour-spicy dressing which would definitely not include kale but why the hell not?
Bibimbap is a well-loved Korean dish that I eat often at home. It seems all fancy when you order it a restaurant with the sizzling hot bowl and everything but I like to make a simple version at home with what I have in the fridge and kale has been such a welcome addition. It’s so easy, too! Just snip, snip, snip.
Up until now, the sturdier stems of kale have been discarded because it’s fibrous and tough to chew. I kind of feel bad about that so I guess I’ll have to work it into heated preparations more. Like this kare-kare (a Filipino stew of oxtail and vegetables in a thick peanut broth).
I made a seafood version using Mama Sita’s kare-kare sauce mix. My love affair with Mama Sita’s, which started with their labuyo sauce, has grown to include many others in their product roster and their kare-kare sauce mix is a new favorite. In case you’re wondering if I’m getting paid to say any of this stuff, I’m not! Although I wouldn’t mind more of this peanut gold in a packet.
I find that kale’s neutral flavor makes it an easy addition to many dishes plus everything it touches becomes more nutritionally dense so this has been a really exciting development in my kitchen. I haven’t run out since I found kale and don’t plan to. To imagine a world without it! Kale me now.
Fun Food Facts: Kale grows well into the winter and actually becomes sweeter after a frost. There’s something poetic about kale. I imagine that its human equivalent is a person with a hardened exterior but a heart of gold. Sniff. Love you, kale.