Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Kale

I'll have to admit that until recently Kale and Kolrhabi were in a close race in the "vegetable least likely to succeed" competition in our CSA bags. Yeah yeah, I know it's good for me, but still.... We tried blanching it, then sauteeing it with garlic and olive oil: meh.  Tried cooking it with Indian spices and chickpeas,  kinda chewy, not that exciting.  I'll admit that a lot of it went to waste- to the point that sometimes I just didn't take my allotted bunch at the CSA stand.

But I've seen the light,  and it's yummy, and I want everyone else to know, that you too friend can enjoy Kale!  The answer is KALE SALAD.

But wait, you say,  isn't Kale tough and chewy, and don't you have to boil it into masticatable submission?
The secret is to get the right kind of kale.  Eschew the curly stuff that looks like it belongs along the edges of a sad buffet line, and look for the dark dark green,  narrow leaved, pebbly textured "Tuscan Kale"  (aka Cavalo Nero, or Dinosaur Kale).

You want to create very narrow strips (almost a chiffonade),  which is easily accomplished by rolling the leaves and slicing into 1/4" wide strips.  I wouldn't use the parts that are stem only, but you don't need to remove the entire rib.
Make a lemony garlic dressing- juice of one lemon,  2x that volume olive oil,  1 large clove garlic, pepper and salt, whisked together until emulsified.  Let the dressed kale sit for at least 10 minutes before serving -the lemon juice will help tenderize the fibers.
While the salad sits, make croutons.  Tear stale bread into smallish chunks (1/2" or so),  Heat a bit of olive oil or butter in a heavy skillet,  add the bread and toss to coat with fat,  stirring occasionally until toasty brown (or place in a low oven for half an hour).

Toss in the breadcrumbs, a lot of pecorino cheese (1 cup grated fine to one normal bunch of kale), and enjoy!

Honestly,  this was so good the first time that I made it that I had seconds for dessert.   And when there was no kale in last week's CSA, I actually bought some at the farmer's market.  I made it for our July 4th party, and everyone was skeptical, but we actually finished most of a giant double batch,  and I even saw people getting second helpings, which has not happened with any other dish I've made with Kale  Yes, it was that good!

And unlike most salads that are lousy the next day, this one is still good (a bit less crisp) as leftovers.  YUM.


  1. I too just discovered the difference in types of kale. I had been buying the curly type, which was okay, but not great. Recently I cooked the recipe below and it called for a specific type of kale- lacinato kale. The recipe was wonderful, super easy to make and also has quinoa. Food 52 is a great web site too.



  2. freddy.brett@yahoo.comJuly 12, 2011 at 11:52 PM

    Hi Cycler. I read your blog deliberately and enjoy it. I thought you may be interested in the following:

    MassBike Spins Series: Bastille Day Ride
    Allez! On July 14, 1789 the citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille. On July 17, 2011, the cyclists of MassBike will storm the French Cultural Center in Boston’s Back Bay, then parade via velo (bicycle) to Harvard Square for the Holyoke Street party. We will go by way of Boston College to see some Gothic architecture (a style that originated in Renaissance France).
    Parisians throw a fete on the Champs-Élysées on July 14th; cyclists in the Commonwealth will fete a la vélo on Sunday, July 17. Why the delay? Because that’s the day of the only FREE Bastille Day street party in the Boston area. The street party will have all kinds of French food and a European beer garden! So throw on your best beret, wrap yourself in the Tri Colo, and join us for one of our great summer MassBike Spins Series rides.

    As with all MassBike rides, helmets are required over your berets.

    When: July 17, 2011. Meet at 2:00pm
    Where: Outside the French Cultural Center (53 Marlborough St, Boston. Access from the Park St. T Stop – bikes are allowed on the T on Sundays. Map here.)
    Who: All MassBike members and anyone who loves bicycles and freedom. The ride will be 11.5 miles and will take between an hour to an hour and a half.

    Please Respondez S’il Vous Plait to rides@massbike.org

    Sun Jul 17 2pm – 3:30pm Eastern Time
    53 Marlborough St, Boston, MA (map)

  3. I like kale in salad, but also lightly marinated kale - which is really an extension of what you did here, except letting it sit for longer and using larger pieces.

  4. two great kale salads:

    Biscuit, on the corner of Kirkland and Beacon, makes a super-duper kale-chickpea salad: I bought it once, read the list of ingredients, reverse-engineered the recipe and now make it at least once a week. Even my 3-yr old Looooves it.

    I saw this but haven't yet tried it: (but 488 5-star reviews can't all be wrong....) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aarti-sequeira/massaged-kale-salad-recipe/index.html

  5. Oh my gosh, I haven't met a green I didn't love. I love kale but I like it shaheed in garlic and lemon juice best. Actually beet greens are my fav, then kale, then chard. Collards and callaloo, well, that just forces me to make a full on soul food meal . Love it all, will try your recipe.


  6. You're right, the dinosaur (or black or lacinata) kale is very good and needs very little cooking (I haven't tried marinating - sounds interesting).

    For more conventional (green or red) you might try adding it to soup - some people I know make bean and potato soup and include kale.