My dad recently asked for some instructions on how to cook kale. I’d showed him before, but he needed a written step-by-step. I figured I’d share this how-to! A lot of this is informed by Greens Glorious Greens, which is the best cookbook (as far as I’m concerned) if you want to get eating some photosynthetic goodness.
Kale is a great source of all kinds of good things for vegans and meat-eaters alike. It’s full of calcium — more than a glass of milk! I love making some to throw into a bowl with some brown rice, miso-tahini sauce, and tofu.
Without further ado, I present you with a wordy post on:
HOW TO MAKE KALE!
1. Buy kale. Go for local and organic (it’s available almost year-round at any farmers’ market). Get whatever looks happy to you! I like the curlier sorts with red/purple stalks because they’re pretty and the curliness gives it a little more texture. However, it may be more difficult to get every little last bug out. I figure that possibly accidentally eating a few aphids is better than for sure eating a lot of pesticides. Of course, you must:
2. Bring your kale home. Store wrapped in a paper towel in a bag in the crisper drawer. I’ve had kale stay good for at least two weeks. When it’s K-Day:
3. Wash your kale. I fill my sink with some cold water and put all the kale leaves in. Kale and other greens cook down a LOT so one bunch is actually not too much for two people. I sometimes eat a whole bunch all by myself. If there are a lot of aphids (they can be greyish), put a little salt in the water. They should fall right off. Swish around, pull them out, and dry.
- This is a good time to start boiling water. Get out a wide pan with a lid and put 1/2″ – 1″ of water in it (about 1-2 cups). Any less than that and it may burn; any more and you may pull out too many nutrients. As it boils:
4. Cut your kale. I go for 1/2″ to 1″ wide strips. I don’t take the rib out but I do trim the stalk at the bottom. Some people don’t like ribs. I really don’t find them an issue. I will sometimes cut the leaves in half along the rib if they’re big leaves. I guess taking the rib out would inevitably cut it into half anyway… Bring the kale to the stove and:
5. Cook your kale*. Put the kale into the now-boiling water and cover. It will take about 5-7 minutes to get the kale the way you want it. Check every few minutes and give it a teeny stir to make sure nothing’s sticking. If you like the flavor and texture, turn off the heat and:
6. Drain your kale. BUT!! The liquid the kale cooked in holds a lot of the nutrients — in the pot likker/liquor. I put a colander over a wide bowl and use that to drain the kale. Let the water coot and drink it later; take the kale out and:
7. Make your kale delicious. It really only needs salt and maybe some lemon juice and pepper. Maybe toasted sesame seeds? It will take well to anything kind of acidic (red wine vinegar will also be good).
Now go make some kale! A cup of cooked kale has more calcium than a glass of milk… and adding the lemon juice adds Vitamin C, which helps your body absorb the calcium, and if you drink the pot liquor… you’re in great shape.
*There’s a lot out there on the internets that will tell you to saute your kale, or maybe suggest you add citrust to it when it cooks. Don’t believe it! It won’t go all radioactive on you, but it will make your kale ugly. Leafy greens have acids in them which, when released by cooking, turn them a boring brownish-green color; adding your own acid will have the same effect. By boil/steaming in water, you’re reducing the concentration of these acids in the kale, while simultaneously diluting the flavor compounds in the kale that make it taste bitter. Hooray cooking science!