At Supper Plate our Cooking Lessons continue with learning how to prepare the superfood Kale! We hear about Kale salads, Kale chips, scrambled eggs with Kale and the list just goes on! For years, I avoided Kale because of its reputation to be bitter and tough to chew. Recently, when ordering a healthy meal at a restaurant containing Kale, it was difficult to eat. The Kale was definitely tough with most of it left on the plate. What a disappointment given its nutritional value. But that all changed after learning the proper way to prepare Kale! Now I am in love with this superfood and cannot get enough! See our recipe Kale Sweet Potato Salad to try out your new skills!
Kale is nutrient dense with a ton of vitamins that includes A, K, C, B6, Manganese, Calcium, Copper, and Potassium. It is also high in Lutein and Zeaxanthin which helps protect the eyes. There are many studies showing promising results. Of course I would encourage you to conduct your own research as to the benefits of Kale. And to seek your own doctor’s or nutritionist for guidance. Information on Supper Plate is not meant to provide medical or nutritional advice.
How to Prepare Kale for a Salad
Preparing Kale for a salad is easy. It requires a little time to become tender but the benefits from a nutritional and storage perspective are awesome! The key is to allow the Kale some love time with oil and vinegar. The vinegar breaks down the toughness of the Kale due to the fiber. Lemon juice also serves the same purpose. Unlike many greens, you can toss Kale with oil and vinegar and store for a couple days without getting soggy. You are rewarded with a delicious, tender salad.
To appreciate the transformation of Kale, you need to take a taste test. Just a small taste. Trust me on this one. It is amazing how tender Kale becomes but you need to know how it taste.
Removing the Rib
When preparing Kale, we start with removing the tough rib from the stem. It helps to fold the leaves and place them on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, run it along the rib removing it. Repeat until the desired amount of Kale is ready for chopping! While removing the rib, notice how dirty or gritty the leaves are to know how long to rinse the Kale.
Chopping the Kale
After marinating the Kale, it is ready to toss with your favorite ingredients! And that is not the time to start chopping the Kale. A messy job with the dressing already on the Kale. So we chop the Kale and then marinade with oil and vinegar. Another benefit of Kale is the ability to chop it and store it for several days. Just add the dressing when ready to tenderize. While chopping the Kale notice the texture and beautiful, rich green color. Don’t you feel a bit healthier just working with this healthy green! It is a tough green as compared to other leafy greens such as spinach. Kale is a member of the cabbage family. It is a cruciferous vegetable like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and Brussels sprouts.
Ok, let’s get to chopping our Kale! You need a cutting board, sharp knife, a draining colander and a bowl for storage. Start with rolling the Kale leaves and then cut into bite size pieces. And think small, fork size pieces. After the initial cut another chop across the length can be necessary for those small pieces. Another method is to layer the long pieces of Kale and then chopping into smaller pieces.
Rinsing and Drying the Kale
My preference is to thoroughly rinse the Kale after chopping. Another option is to rinse the whole leaves before you chop. Let’s give the Kale a good rinse and dry. Be sure to rinse away any dirt and grit because that will not be fun to eat! Don’t be shy. Move the Kale around and look to see if dirt and grit are being wash off the Kale. If you have a salad spinner, give it a good spin! If storing or making a salad, let the Kale dry. Typically layering it in paper towels is helpful to remove most of the water. Another great option is to roll the Kale within the paper towels to speed up the drying process. It helps squeeze out the excess water. If necessary, let it finish air dry before storing. If cooking the Kale immediatley, drying is not as important.
Marinating the Kale
Typically when making a salad my ratio of Olive Oil is higher than the Vinegar. With Kale I change it up. Using more vinegar helps break down the Kale turning it into a tender salad. I use ½ tbsp Olive Oil and 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar to 1 cup of packed chopped Kale or 67 grams or 2.4 ounces. Personally I measure by the grams because that is easier than packing a cup which is not as accurate. When serving the salad, simply balance out the vinegar with a little added Olive Oil. A little salt and pepper helps round out the bitterness.
Ok, here is the important step. You need to coat the Kale with the dressing. Do not pour it over the Kale and call it a day. Take out a medium size bowl. Add a layer of Kale and some of the dressing mixing it into the Kale. Take some time to give it a good mix. Each piece of Kale needs some love! Add another layer of Kale and repeat until you get through the desired amount of Kale to prepare. If all the greens are not covered with the dressing, mix up a little more recipe. But go conservative. When we remove the Kale from the bowl it is okay to have a little dressing at the bottom. But do not soak it either. Another tip is to add some Kale to your measuring cup with the dressing. This way you wipe that baby dry!
While tossing the greens, notice a couple of things. The Kale turns a rich shade of green with the dressing. And the volume of Kale starts to decrease with the dressing. Lastly, looks how beautiful it is and what a wonderful base for a salad.
Cover the container with a lid and place it into the refrigerator. Marinade time is from 1 hour to a couple of days! My preference is to leave it overnight in the refrigerator. One-hour is a little tough for me. But your preference could be different. Speaking of preference, let’s get back to those taste tests. Remember how the raw Kale tasted? Try a piece of Kale after an hour, a couple of hours etc. Get a feel for how the Kale changes the longer it marinades. I was amazed at how tender it becomes! Mix with your favorite greens for a healthy, delicious salad! See our delicious recipe for Kale Sweet Potato Salad!
How Do You Cook Kale?
We follow the same process as preparing Kale for a salad except for two steps. First we do not need to dry the Kale after rinsing. In fact the additional water helps the Kale steam quicker. Secondly it only takes a few minutes to tenderize the Kale in a saute pan.
Take out a saute pan and add ¼ cup water or vegetable stock. Turn on the burner to start heating the liquids. At the same time start to add the Kale. We are going to use 1 cup or 67 grams or 2.4 ounces. Add the Kale in bunches. Stir the Kale into the liquids before adding more. Cover and simmer for 5-minutes to wilt the Kale. Remove cover and simmer until liquids are evaporated or until desired texture. Take a few taste tests to determine tenderness. Then season with salt and pepper. Now it is ready for your recipe. Personally I would not enjoy cooked Kale without some accompianments! Store leftovers in the refrigerator for several days.