Thursday, April 11, 2013

Simple Pleasures: Toasted Kale


We fell in love with kale this winter. Sturdier than lettuce, more satisfying than spinach, it has become our go-to leafy green (at least until the weather is warm enough to make a cold salad seem appealing).

Kale is wonderfully versatile. For a hearty and warming side dish, steam-saute kale with a bit of oil and stock, and toss with minced garlic in the few seconds before leaving the pan. Chopped raw and dropped into simmering veggie or meat soup, it will hold its shape and add visual appeal. Cooked gently with cream or coconut milk, kale makes an earthy yet luxurious pasta topping.

But for truly addictive flavour and texture, toasted kale wins hands-down.

Toasted Kale

Preheat oven to 425º (400º if using convection oven). Dump some kale onto a shallow baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to distribute oil (hands work well for this), then spread evenly, leafy edges facing up. (Kale need not be thoroughly coated.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

It's very hard to get a good photo
of the oil, salt, and pepper....

Bake 7-10 minutes or until leaf edges are charred and crispy. Serve hot and listen to the gluttonous crunching (your own or that of your family). Reflect with complacence that kale is very, very good for you.


Note: For super-crispy and snack-worthy kale, remove the stems, give the leaves plenty of breathing room, and bake a little longer. You can lower the oven temperature if you want crispiness without charring. (Don't forget to save the stems for soup.) To combine thrift with nutrition, and save a little time, keep the stems intact and slightly crowd the pan. This will give a lovely charred/steamed texture as in the photo above.

Some ideas for toppings (should you want to paint the lily): Sesame seeds (before or after toasting), very finely grated parmesan cheese, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne, finely chopped crispy bacon, crumbled blue cheese....

Do you like kale? How do you cook it?

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34 comments:

  1. Oh yes, we're HUGE fans of kale here, too. Oven baked kale chips are our favorite. Hmmm...I think that's on the menu for tonight! We usually do it several times a week. I haven't used the stems in soup before, though. Thanks for the idea!
    Hope you're staying dry. ;-)

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    1. We've been eating tons of it lately....

      Not VERY dry, I'm afraid. It's been rather icy and sleety and drippy. But a glance out the window shows a nearly dry road, and I am tempted to take a bike ride. :)

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  2. Looks yummy! Very hard to get kale around here but a co-worker said she is able to find it ever once in a while but only at one grocery store that is a bit far from me. Maybe one day I'll come across some and give this a try. :) Have a great day! Tammy

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    1. Thanks Tammy - now I'm wondering what kind of leafy greens grow naturally over there. I know you have spinach.... :)

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  3. I do believe that I could live on kale alone. I simply love it and would eat it everyday if I could. I'm crazy about kale chips too. Oh, YUMS!

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    1. I did a little googling while writing this post, and there are some amazing recipes out there for kale. I need to expand the repertoire. :)

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  4. I've never seen kale I think. It's translated "Grünkohl" but doesn't look like the vegetable I call Grünkohl. :-)

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    1. Its botanical name is Brassica Oleracea, Acephala group (good ol' Wikipedia) - so it's a cousin of broccoli and cabbage and cauliflower. Over here we would call it a "cole crop" which is a name for anything in the cabbage family. There's a very good picture of kale on the Wikepedia page.

      :)

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  5. What type of kale do you get? I know there are different colors, but I really do not know how they differ, or if they do.
    I am going to get some tomorrow and try it out.

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    1. Our village grocer sells it in a bag - brand name "Nature's Greens". (Love that name.) But I know you can buy it in bunches at larger supermarkets. The kind we buy is green and curly-leaved, and slightly chopped so that all the pieces are about the same size.

      Hope you like it! :)

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  6. My in-laws really enjoy kale in England but I forgot that they told us that when we were there last year. You have reminded me that I need to try it!
    After all, I think more foods should start with a "k"! HA!
    (My Dad grows collards and turnip greens, I will suggest kale too. I have no shame!)

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    1. "K is ever so much gypsier a letter than smug C...." (a quote from Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery)

      Yes, more foods SHOULD start with a K! :)

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  7. Oh what a super idea!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you!

    Kale is not just for salads anymore! :-)

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    1. Hope you like it! And remember, olive oil is GOOD for you. ;)

      I haven't tried kale in a salad yet ... it seems a bit thick and squeaky for me, like raw broccoli. But I love it cooked.

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  8. I love kale chips! I'm impatient for our farmer's market to open. I still have a couple more weeks to wait.

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    1. Having googled kale recipes, I now know how popular kale chips are. Hadn't really heard of them until a co-worker told me about them a few weeks ago.

      NPR did a story on the DC cherry blossoms this morning - it made me think of you. :)

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  9. I do what you did with it only I let it get very crispy - Kale Chips. Yummy! Also works with spinach, beet greens, etc.

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    1. We haven't tried beet greens ... and I wonder if it would work with Swiss chard?

      Usually we let it get super-crispy and very dark. It's addictive. :)

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  10. Oh, and I usually spray the cookie sheet with olive oil spray and then spray the kale with olive oil spray. Works just as well and not as messy. Just be careful with the salt. They can get over-salted easily. Sometimes I use garlic powder instead of salt. Yum!

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    1. I don't have a sprayer, or I would do that too. By the time I've tossed it the pan is usually well coated with olive oil.

      Garlic powder is a great idea! :)

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  11. This I need to try! AS long as my dodgy jaw can cope it will be great for my diet!

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    1. I think it would be easy to eat ... the stems get a bit chewy but you could always avoid those. And the crispier, the easier to eat - it melts in the mouth. :)

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  12. People around here are kale crazy! I have tried it and am not a fan. But people do go on and on about how great it is roasted in the oven, so I am going to try it following your recipe.
    Here's hoping I'll be a convert!

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    1. Honestly I never ate it in my life until this winter. But I liked it right away, though I've always been a terribly picky eater and not prone to adding new foods to my diet. Our other favourite way of cooking is the steam/saute method - a hot oiled pan, dump the kale in, add just a tablespoon or so of good stock, put on the lid, and steam for a few minutes. Take off the lid and toss with salt, pepper, and garlic if desired. Mmm.

      Hope you like the toasted version. :)

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  13. Hi Sue. I am planning to try the Hairy Bikers' colcannon recipe tomorrow. Check out my Wetcreek Blog today for the recipe. Linda

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    1. Thanks Linda - I did. (Sorry for this extremely tardy reply!) :)

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  14. We used to grow kale for the cows when I was a kid, made the milk taste funny as I remember, but I may be mis-remembering! I don't think I have ever eaten it, but I do like the idea of roasting it so it's crunchy. My diet needs a serious overhaul, I've been eating far too much rubbish for convenience sake.....no more!

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    1. Rubbish for convenience sake ... been there!

      Toasted kale is so good that it's hard to believe it's healthy. :)

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  15. We love Kale. S & P and cayenne is our preference. Your photos remind me of how very yummy it is. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Astri! We tried cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder the other night - pretty tasty. Tonight it was minced fresh garlic roasted with the kale - REALLY good! :)

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  16. Gerrit introduced me to kale early in our marriage. The Dutch call it boerenkool (translated: farmer's cabbage) and often simmer it with potatoes and then mash it with the potatoes (with milk and butter, of course!) for an upgraded mashed potato side dish. It's really easy to grow - last summer I grew a variety (can't remember the name) that isn't as curly as what comes in bunches in the grocery, so I think it's easier to wash and chop. To harvest it, you just snip off some leaves and let the plant keep growing - it lasts well into the fall and survives a few light frosts. And you're right: it's super nutritious. Wins all the prizes!

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    1. That sounds like the dish Wetcreek's Linda posted about. When we lived out in the country our landlady grew kale and would have happily shared, but I foolishly didn't take it. Now I could kick myself. :)

      I should try growing some kale this summer if I can find the room.

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