10 Quick and Easy Ways to Cook with Kale

by Teri Tsang Barrett,Bon Appétit

Kale. So hot right now. Also so cold right now. We're into this leafy green whether it's been steamed, sauteed, baked, or whether it's touched no heat at all--when it's just sliced and dressed. Yes, kale is king among dark, leafy green vegetables:Several different varieties are grown, and each one is a powerhouse of flavor and nutrition. Another great think about the veggie: It's easy to cook well and almost impossible to overcook. So here are a handful of quick and easy things to do with this forgiving green.

Conde Nast Digital Studio
Conde Nast Digital Studio

1) Kale Pesto
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Blanch 4 garlic cloves for 2-3 minutes; remove from water with a slotted spoon. In same water, blanch 1 bunch of stemmed kale for 30 seconds; drain. Puree garlic and kale in a food processor; with motor running, gradually add about 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 cup grated Parmesan, and 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use pesto to dress cooked pasta of your choice or as a sauce for vegetables or fish.

Related: An Energy-Packed Fruit Smoothie

2) Braised Kale
4-6 servings

Remove stems from 2 heads of kale and roughly chop leaves. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the fibrous, stringy outer layer from stems; discard. Chop stems. Combine stems and leaves in a large Dutch oven along with 2 chopped onions, 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp. paprika, and 1/4 cup water. Braise over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes. Use as a topping for chicken or pork, as a dressing for cooked pasta or rice, or as a side dish.

3) Kale Slaw
4-6 servings

Remove stems from 1 head of kale. Thinly slice leaves and place in a large bowl with 1 julienned apple, 1 shredded carrot, raisins (optional), and toasted slivered almonds. Drizzle mixture with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper; toss to coat. (Alternatively, make a dressing by blending 3 Tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil, 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, and 1 tsp. honey.) Let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving.

4) Kale Chips
4-6 servings

Tear leafy parts from a head of kale into 2"-3" pieces. Whisk 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a large bowl; add kale and toss to coat. Spread out kale in an even layer on a baking sheet. Cover with another baking sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven until crisp, 12-15 minutes.

Conde Nast Digital Studio
Conde Nast Digital Studio

5) Japanese-Style Boiled Kale Salad
2-4 servings

Boil thinly sliced stemmed kale leaves from 1-2 heads of kale for about 10 minutes; drain and place in a large bowl. Whisk 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil in a small bowl. Spoon some of dressing over kale; chill well. Sprinkle kale with sesame seeds and season with fresh lemon juice, if desired. Serve with remaining dressing alongside.

6) Baked Kale Mac-and-Cheese
4-6 servings

Make a bechamel by melting 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 1 cup whole milk and cook, whisking, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Blanch leaves from 1 head of kale and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir kale into bechamel sauce. Boil 2 cups elbow macaroni; drain. Transfer to an 8x8x2" baking dish and pour sauce over. Sprinkle with a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan. Bake in a 375 degree oven until warmed through and browned on top, about 25 minutes.

See also: Is Homemade Granola Worth the Effort?

7) African-Style Stewed Kale
6 servings

Heat 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter in a large saute pan. Add 1 chopped onion and 3 minced garlic cloves and saute until soft. Stir in 1 Tbsp. ground cumin and 1 Tbsp. ground coriander, then 1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes and chopped stemmed leaves from 2 heads of kale. Cover and cook until kale is just tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves and simmer for 10 minutes; season with hot pepper sauce, if desired. Serve over couscous.

8) Tropical Kale Slushy
4 servings

Combine 2 chopped stemmed kale leaves, 2 cups chopped fresh pineapple, 1 peeled kiwi, and 1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves in a blender. Add ice and enough water to cover; puree until smooth.

9) Kale Flatbreads
2-4 servings

Toss thinly sliced stemmed kale leaves with olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stretch 1 purchased pizza dough (about one 9" round) into a thin crust and brush with olive oil; sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Scatter kale over, followed by a layer of crumbled feta and shredded mozzarella; bake in a 400 degree oven until crust is golden, about 10 minutes.

10) Kale-Spiked Mashed Potatoes
2-4 servings

Saute 4 thinly sliced stemmed kale leaves and minced garlic in rendered bacon fat for about 1 minute; stir into 1/2 lb. mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon, thinly sliced scallions, and shredded cheddar before serving.

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