[fair warning: kale chips will not be mentioned. blech]
We are kale crazy in our house. And I know it's not the most appealing food item, but if you work it into your meals and you're a little bit creative, you might just learn to love it.
We like kale because it's really good for us. But for someone who isn't familiar with it, where do you start? I want to share with you 5 ways to add kale to your life. There are a million more, but these are my favorite.
Before you cook with kale, you must prep it. This is best done the day you bring it home so it doesn't begin to wilt or turn yellow in the refrigerator. Simply trim the leaves from the stems and give them a rough chop. Soak in a big bowl of water or your sink for 30 minutes or so. Put it all through the salad spinner so they are plenty dry. Seal in a gallon zip lock bag with some dry paper towels. Store in the veggie drawer of your fridge. That way, your kale is always ready whenever you need to grab it for a recipe!
The first time we had kale salad, we used fresh cut kale from a local orchard. Oh man, it was delicious. I used this simple Martha Stewart recipe which calls for a fresh lemon juice dressing. We used a mix of 3 different kinds of kale. If you're going to eat kale raw, like in a salad, the most important thing to do is use the freshest kale you can find. Farmer's Market, locally grown or from your own garden are the best options.
We eat a lot of soup in our house. It's delicious and easy. One thing I try to do often is make sure there are good, nutritious foods in our soup and one way to ensure that is to use kale. The key to kale in soup is to be sure it gets good and wilty before you add your stock or water. If you don't, then it will be crunchy, which if you like it like that, go for it! When using kale in a soup, I add it after I've sauteed my onion, carrot, celery and garlic. If you need a good recipe to try out, I recommend this one. It's vegetarian but there's no reason you can't add shredded chicken or even pasta to it!
This is how I began adding kale into our diet because it's a great way to hide it in your food. I always make our pesto because homemade pesto is just so yummy! And I got the idea to add kale to it from a vegan cookbook I had been reading. My pesto recipe varies every time I make it but in general it includes spinach, kale, garlic, salt, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor and slowly pour the olive oil in until it reaches the desired consistency. Serve over fresh, hot tortellini (or your pasta of choice) or spread over slices of tomatoes and roast in the oven. Voila!
I've mentioned a few times that I got a nutribullet for my birthday. Don't have one? Get one! We love ours. And one reason I love it so much is because I will drink a thousand different veggies that I would have a hard time choking down otherwise. While kale is not one of those things for me, it may be for you. So this is a great way to eat it. You can also put it into smoothies. The difference with the nutribullet is that it actually liquefies everything rather than just blending it together. The infomercials claims that in doing so it turns everything into a "super food" because your body doesn't have to break anything down. I don't know how much of that is true. But I do know, it's a really good way to get otherwise gross food into your system daily. And seriously, you can't even taste it, especially if you add banana.
sauteed in bacon fat
This last way is my ode to good old fashioned southern cooking. I am no southern cook, let that be known. But I appreciate their ways down there. This way is simple and super flavorful: Heat some bacon fat (for us there is always some left from breakfast because, well, we always have bacon with breakfast). Throw in your roughly chopped kale and some minced garlic. Stir often as it wilts so the garlic doesn't burn. You can also add some pepper or cayenne pepper if you like it hot! After a few minutes it will turn a dark green and be sort of wilty. Don't let it get too wilty. Then add some chicken stock. Not too much. Maybe 1/3 cup? (I'm terrible with measurements. I do everything to taste and what looks right). Bring to a boil. Put a lid on the pan and let it simmer on low for about 20 minutes. And that's it! Serve with black eyed peas and some pulled pork sandwiches and you're set!