- For optimum nutrition, buy kale in season. A light frost sweetens kale, so depending on where you live, fall or winter is the perfect time to enjoy it.
- Choose kale from organic, biodynamic or responsible local growers when possible. Greens grown in better-managed soils help you net maximum flavor and nutrition and minimize exposure to pesticides.
- Whenever you shop for kale, buy lots of it because it cooks down dramatically.
- Keep blanched or precooked leftovers on hand to add to the week’s breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
Washing: Avoid washing kale until just before use, since it will hasten spoilage.
Cutting: To make cutting easier, remove any thick stems (just hold the kale upside down by the stems and pull the leaves off), then stack large greens on top of one another, roll them into tight bundles and slice into desired widths. The stems, finely chopped, can be used in soups.
Blanching: Blanching reduces bitterness and softens thick greens, which is useful if you want to follow up with a quick saute or freeze the greens for later use. To blanch kale, stir leaves into boiling water for a minute or two, drain, then immediately run under cold water.
Braising: Braising tenderizes and adds flavor. To braise, slow cook 1 pound of greens in a ½ to ¾ cup of seasoned cooking liquid (chicken or vegetable stock or wine) or water for about 20 minutes or until greens are tender and ready to eat.
- Blend a few chopped-up young kale leaves (but not the stems) into fruit smoothies. It’s a great way to get more greens into the diets of the veggie-averse, especially kids.
- Chop, cook and mix kale with grains to add nutrients and flavor to dishes like barley risotto or rice pilaf.
- Blanched and frozen kale can be crumbled into soups, stews, beans and pasta sauces.
- Substitute sauteed kale for cooked spinach in spanakopita, on pizza, or wherever you typically use greens.
- Whip up a quick summer kale saute with garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and basil.