Kale comes in a variety of forms, from heavily ruffled varieties to large, bumpy leaves with a deep green color. Cooking methods remain the same regardless of the type or color of your kale. This leafy green stands up well to both slow and quick cooking methods without becoming overly soft or mushy.
A quick rinse and swish under cold running water removes sandy grit from kale leaves before you cook them. Shake off the excess water before cutting kale, or blot the leaves dry with a paper towel. Kale has a thick midrib. You can trim out the midrib if you don't like the tougher texture, or leave it in place if you prefer a bit more chewiness to the kale.
Kale chips provide a crunchy, deep-green alternative to salty fried potato chips. Chop the kale into 3-inch pieces and toss the leaves with just enough olive oil to coat them. Add a dash of soy sauce, sprinkle a bit of sea salt or leave the chips plain, according to your taste. Spread the kale on a baking sheet and top it with a second sheet, like a lid, so both sides crisp evenly. Bake the kale in a preheated 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 12 minutes for crispy chips.
A quick saute wilts and tenderizes kale. The wilted greens work well served on their own or incorporated into a pasta dish or stir-fry. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces and toss it in the pan. Saute the kale, stirring or tossing constantly, just until it begins to wilt. For additional flavor, saute some chopped garlic in the oil for one or two minutes before adding the kale. Sauteed kale tastes best simply dressed, perhaps with some sea salt and a dash of freshly ground pepper.
Braise the Roof
Braising infuses kale with rich flavor. This method works exceptionally well to soften tougher stems or tough older leaves. Chop the kale and add it to a pot or Dutch oven with aromatic vegetables such as chopped onions or whole garlic cloves, salt and pepper, and enough olive oil to coat the leaves. Stir in some beef or chicken stock to infuse the leaves with flavor, if desired. Cook slowly over low heat for about 30 or 40 minutes, or until the greens absorb the liquid. Braised kale is flavorful as a side dish or served over cooked chicken, beef or pork.