Convince me that kale can actually be tasty
November 8, 2013 8:50 AM   Subscribe

We get a lot of kale from our CSA, and we pretty much know it's headed for the compost. Have tried many recipes that turn out nasty -- kale chips that won't dry, sauteed kale that's too bitter to choke down, etc. -- and have yet to find anything that gets us excited to use this vegetable, no matter how healthy. (Yes, I do make some green shakes, but one bunch in the freezer can fuel me for a year on that front! We have 3-4 bunches in the fridge right now.) I should say that the one exception was a recipe called "Carolina kale," which involves some stewed tomatoes and cumin, but our experience after making it a few times is that we love it on day 1 but then never want to touch the leftovers, so then that feels like a waste too.

So, metafites, convince me that kale is fit for human consumption! wow me with your best, genuinely delicious, kale recipes, before it's compost time again!
posted by acm to Food & Drink (78 answers total) 95 users marked this as a favorite
How are you doing your kale chips? I say this as someone who does not really like kale and who none the less eats a lot of the chips. Just in case you're having a technique issue:

- oven at 275
- non-insulated baking sheets
-check at 10 minutes but expect to go to 20
-at 17 - 20 minutes, remove all the crisped kale and spread any non-dried kale around better in the pans, then turn off the oven. Let the kale sit in the oven for...oh, I've let it sit for an hour or two as the oven cools. That seems to finish crisping it up.
- Also, I use about 2 T olive oil per bunch of kale and use two regular baking sheets.
posted by Frowner at 8:54 AM on November 8, 2013 [7 favorites]

Have you tried it raw in salads? I don't care for cooked kale but love it in salads. Massage the kale to get rid of some of the bitterness, more information on what that means exactly here.
posted by wilky at 8:54 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Colcannon! There is nothing that cream and butter and potatoes can't fix.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:55 AM on November 8, 2013 [8 favorites]

Salad! Massage in oil and salt, leave to sit for a few hours. Great as a hearty salad - think boiled eggs, bacon, sauteed onion, etc.
posted by ssg at 8:56 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Two ideas:

1. Add it to soup. Anything from a hearty potato/sausage thing, to a simple broth with egg and shredded kale. It needs to cook longer than, say, spinach would in a soup.

2. Southern style greens: yes, saute them, but add vinegar, molasses or honey, hot pepper flakes, and garlic, plus bacon or smoked pork if you eat meat. It's AMAZING. I could eat it a couple times a week.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2013 [7 favorites]

I also came in to suggest caldo verde, except I make it differently than the recipe posted by jamaro. Mine is just potatoes, kale, and ground chorizo. Very simple and delicious.

I see you already make green shakes so I'll skip that one.

If you massage the kale with olive oil, it softens and is less bitter. I use it in a nice salad.
posted by sm1tten at 8:58 AM on November 8, 2013

Yes. Chinese seaweed. Of course, you are adding sugar and frying it, so it's hardly going to be a health food ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 8:58 AM on November 8, 2013

I think you need to braise your kale. Cook it on LOW HEAT in a heavy, covered pot with a generous amount of olive oil, plus a chopped onion, some lemon juice, and salt and pepper. It should be silky, totally non-bitter and utterly delicious after ~25 minutes.

(You may need to add a small amount of water to the pot before you turn it on and close the lid. If you don't, CHECK FREQUENTLY because this is a very easy way to scorch a pot and ruin some kale.)
posted by Cygnet at 8:59 AM on November 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

I love this one:
Roasted Swiss Chard with Feta
I have made this recipe with kale as a substitute for the chard and it is *tasty*.

Also, the classic Greens and Beans.
posted by Ardea alba at 8:59 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am not a huge fan of kale either, but I found marinating it and/or massaging it really helps. For example, I make an avocado and kale salad and it is much, much tastier if you really massage the avocado into the kale with you bare hands for a quite a few minutes.
posted by Lescha at 9:00 AM on November 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

Cook it with pork and vinegar! Don't add too much salt.

Parmesan cheese tastes pretty great on kale.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:00 AM on November 8, 2013

You know, as a veteran of POUNDS of failed kale chips, I just read about making them in the microwave - apparently, it's way more foolproof and effective than baking them.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:01 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Braised greens with garlic and walnuts.
posted by zamboni at 9:01 AM on November 8, 2013

Cavolo Nero is one of our favorite ways to eat kale.
posted by padraigin at 9:02 AM on November 8, 2013

Just barely wilted in a skillet with some oil, then tossed with mirin (sweetened rice wine) and sesame oil. The mirin really helps to cut the bitterness.
posted by Jeanne at 9:02 AM on November 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Deborah Madison's kale and barley gratin from her excellent book "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" is delicious.
posted by purpleclover at 9:03 AM on November 8, 2013

I use a lot of kale in my cooking (and swiss chard, beet greens, and other greens). I handle it two ways.

One is to surround it with something yummy: eggs and cheese (like in quiche), tomatoes (stew-like things, soups, etc.), cooked first and put on pizza (with feta, pine nuts, roasted beets -- yum!. The other is to chop it up in a Cuisinart (works surprisingly well) and cook it very well. If it's not cooked very well, it's pretty bitter, and chopping it up really finely makes it less stringy. Then the kale can be added to all sorts of things: pasta, scrambled eggs, etc. I tend to just add a lot of kale to whatever else I am cooking. I consider it a gift to my family to add kale in such a way that it doesn't change the flavor of the thing I'm serving.

The only kale dish I eat that's predominantly kale is a salad with a honey-mustard vinaigrette. There the kale is cut into thin ribbons and forms the base of a salad, with no other greens in it.
posted by Capri at 9:04 AM on November 8, 2013

Dissent: I am of the view that there are good reasons that prior to 2006, kale was solely a disposable garnish for middling salad bars, and not considered edible. There are so many other greens that are actually delicious. Greens that do not have to be massaged and otherwise cadged and coaxed into being edible.

Shred it and freeze it and add it to soups and stews and other long-cooking whatnot where it won't stand out, but I have had all sorts of oh it's so delicious! modern kale-centric whatnots and they keep being terrible. Tell your CSA you'd like a better variety of greens. Your compost will benefit from the kale, though.
posted by kmennie at 9:11 AM on November 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

Another convert to the massaged kale salad. It took me 5 years of receiving it in the CSA to try massaging my kale, and it's the best! I like to toss it with some seasonal fruit--plums, oranges, Asian pears--and dress it with a slightly sweet dressing, like a raspberry vinaigrette. This gives you some sweet bites in among the heartier greens.

I also discovered a marinated chickpea pita recipe that's a big fave. Marinate cooked chickpeas overnight in a lot of lemon juice, oil and Middle Eastern spices of your choice, then pack them in a pita with fresh kale or chard cut in ribbons, a slice of tomato, some red onion in rings, and some yogurt-based sauce. Full of flavor and you can really pack a lot of greens in there.
posted by Liesl at 9:12 AM on November 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Winter Lentil Soup. This soup is so tasty, you just want to keep eating it and eating it and tasting it. I am salivating right now just thinking about it. *drool*
posted by jillithd at 9:12 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

This crunchy kale and coconut bowl right here is really, really good. I usually do brown rice instead of farro so I don't have to make a special farro-retrieving trip to the health food store.

I also enjoyed this kale, sausage, and lentil skillet recipe.

In general, if the kale is bitter, you haven't cooked it enough. If you're making something with sauteed kale, steam it first until it's soft.
posted by something something at 9:12 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Crescent Dragonwagon's gumbo zeb base will take a whole afternoon to make but is very, very worth it and you will be eating well for months afterward. Basically, you make the roux, stock, veggies and seasonings ahead of time, freeze it in baggies, and then you can make gumbo in less time than it takes to cook a pot of rice by thawing out a bag and adding whatever broth and meat strike your fancy.

That description doesn't do it justice, though. It makes it sound like this is some barely-adequate sorta-edible last-ditch industrial food product for people with more freezer space than taste. But this stuff is good. I mean, stunningly good.

And here's what matters to you: it calls for a metric fuckton of greens, it will work well with whatever type of greens you've got around, and the veggies are balanced with enough other strong flavors that even people who "hate greens" end up liking it. Though it really does come out a lot more interesting if there's at least a bit of variety in the greens you use: if I were in your shoes, I'd use mostly kale and then chuck in some mustard greens and some arugula to mix things up.

(But you don't know how to make roux, you say? Sure you do. You can operate a microwave, right?)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:14 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Ok, you guys are giving me hope. Lots of good ideas here -- can't mark any until I try some, but I see more than a few that sure sound tasty! Will have a go this weekend. Thanks!!
posted by acm at 9:15 AM on November 8, 2013

One of my favorite kale recipes:

Kale-Yam-Pecan stirfry
posted by pepper bird at 9:17 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Raw kale salad - when we make this we've used agave nectar instead of maple syrup, and we've added cranberries.

Kale pasta

Rice bowls - sort of bibimbap style; we use kale instead of spinach

We'll also put kale in a bunch of soups or use it in a frittata.
posted by LionIndex at 9:18 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chop leaves and stems up fairly small and put in a big pot of boiling water. After 5 minutes, add a couple servings of your preferred pasta. While pasta cooks, saute chopped onion and garlic in olive oil. When the pasta is done, the kale will be too. Drain, add olive oil/onion/garlic, top with parmesan! The only way I will eat kale.
posted by skycrashesdown at 9:22 AM on November 8, 2013

Fearing that you're vegetarian but hoping you're not:

The North German way. You strip the leaves off the leaf-stems by pulling them off by hand. Discard the stems, wash the kale several times, chop coarsely. You need a lot of kale, btw.
Take a big pot, the one you'd use for a week's worth of chili. Sauté a good fistful of chopped onion in pork fat within. Add the chopped kale, let sizzle for a while, turn and toss.
Now add some salt (not too much), a teaspoon or so of allspice and pepper and about tablespoon of cut oats. Adjust heat down to simmer. Put on top of kale: bratwurst-type coarse-ground sausage (that means, no fennel like in italian sausage; at least one per person, smoked better than non-smoked), a chunk of smoked pork shoulder preferably with the bone, and two items of other smoked goods to taste (outside Bremen or Oldenburg, one usually doesn't get the traditional barley-onion-and-fat sausage called Pinkel, so you'll have to do without it which is truly sad); a piece of smoked pork side would be great.

Cook on low for at least 2 hours, the longer the merrier; watch that it doesn't dry up.

Boil some potatoes, put a bottle of vodka/aquavit/gin in the freezer. Put all the meaty goods on a platter, and a good portion of the kale into a bowl, serve and yum. The vodka is for halfway through. You must take your time with all this. French mustard at the side.
posted by Namlit at 9:24 AM on November 8, 2013 [9 favorites]

Slow cooked in the pan with olive oil, salt, and raisins. Then throw on candied pecans.
posted by epanalepsis at 9:25 AM on November 8, 2013

Sautéing kale can be bitter, unless it's Dinosaur-ear (lacinato). For traditional or Red Russian kale, I always blanche it first. Chop and wash it, then pour boiling water on it for a minute, drain and squeeze it out. It makes it much less bitter. my kids like it sautéed with maple syrup, lemon juice and soy.
posted by rouftop at 9:28 AM on November 8, 2013

How long have you had your CSA? In my experience kale is a lot sweeter during colder weather due to something about the growing process. The kale you get in November/December might not taste the same as what you got in July.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:29 AM on November 8, 2013

Wait, though - how do you feel about/tolerate other leafy veggies in the brassica family? (collards, cabbage, brussels sprouts, etc) If those are all also mouth-bendingly bitter/unpleasant for you then there is not likely to be any decent hope for kale.

Your best bet is going to be something less than healthy involving a lot of buttery goodness, I think. The colcannon recommended above is awesome.
posted by elizardbits at 9:33 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mmmm, kale. Just put two plants in our garden a few weeks back (New Orleans, it's always growing time) in preparation for SOUP SEASON, baby.

The kale you get in November/December might not taste the same as what you got in July.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:29 AM on November 8 [+] [!]

posted by polly_dactyl at 9:36 AM on November 8, 2013

We make kale and beans with it a lot of the time. It's an acceptable substitute for escarole and beans.
posted by breakin' the law at 9:43 AM on November 8, 2013

Have you tried smothering it in bacon grease?

No, seriously, though, when you sautee your kale, use bacon grease as your oil in the pan. Some diced garlic (add to bacon grease in pan to let it cook a bit before you add the kale) or red pepper flakes can be great, too. Some people swear by adding some sweetness in the form of sugar or honey or the like, too.

I'll second colcannon.

Really, the message here is that butter and delicious bacon make everything better.

it calls for a metric fuckton of greens, it will work well with whatever type of greens you've got around

I would not put anything from the brassica family into gumbo. Though the above recipe is not really gumbo (tomatoes? nope), so sure, murder it in whatever way you like, I suppose. You should certainly heed well that the linked recipe does not call for any greens from the brassica family, like kale or cabbage. There is a reason for that. Ignore it at your peril.
posted by Sara C. at 9:47 AM on November 8, 2013

Response by poster: (Not trying to thread-sit, but I am *not* vegetarian, but *do* eat paleo, so no problem with bacon, but extra appreciation of recipes that don't use any grains or potatoes. Still, for a really *great* recipe I would use a potato or two.)
posted by acm at 9:50 AM on November 8, 2013

The above recipes all sound delicious. The key thing that I think will increase your enjoyment of kale is to stop eating the stems. Cut the leaves off the big thick stem in the middle, then chop it up and try one of the recipes upthread. It does make it a little more work, but I think you'll see a world of difference.
posted by valoius at 9:55 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Kale, carrot, and avocado salad - it's creamy, tangy, simple and delicious. It's my go-to salad.
posted by marshmallow peep at 9:55 AM on November 8, 2013

I made this recipe for bonehead and I on halloween, and it was mighty tasty. This uses potato, but man, it's absolutely worth it.
posted by LN at 9:57 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

My standard way of eating kale is to steam the leaves (in the microwave if possible) until it's cooked, then saute it to get it a little crisped up. Add plenty of soy sauce and/or chicken stock. I'm pretty sure you can't overcook kale. Anyway this way you cook a whole bunch of raw kale down to like a couple of servings worth of cooked kale. I eat it as a side dish or I reheat it and have a fried egg on top of it for breakfast.
posted by mskyle at 9:59 AM on November 8, 2013

Here in Italy the closest relative, iianm, is Tuscan black cabbage, cavolo nero (= "Dino kale"?), and the purest way to enjoy that is 1. in winter, 2. simply boiled in salt water until not-yet-mushy, 3. placed atop a slice of just-toasted, garlic-rubbed country bread, 4. with a teaspoon of the kale water and a healthy, pungent dash of the year's new olive oil, so as a bruschetta al cavolo nero.
posted by progosk at 10:03 AM on November 8, 2013

I love kale in many ways, but the easiest method is one of the best for me.

Saute some red onions, then add the kale, a little water, and steam it. When the kale has wilted, add balsamic vinegar and serve.
posted by terrapin at 10:04 AM on November 8, 2013

Ah, so barley gratin isn't a good suggestion.

I am often surprised by how long kale takes to braise. It tastes best to me when it cooks a long time, like 30 minutes or more on low heat. And no stems! The stems never turn into anything resembling food for me.

Are you talking about dark green "dinosaur" kale (lacinato kale, Tuscan kale, cavolo nero), or the slightly lighter green or purple curly kale? The former tastes milder to me.

It's also possible that your CSA farmer planted a crappy variety that's just extra bitter. Farming is hard, and sometimes farmers buy a lot of seed of a not-great variety, or one that's slightly wrong for the climate. Do you feel this way about kale from the store too? Anecdote time: My farmer planted a superstrong variety of arugula that convinced me I hated arugula for years.

If your paleo includes dairy, I would braise the hell out of the kale, then put it in a crustless quiche. If not, soup with sausage. Or in the crock pot with a chuck roast and a million sliced onions (like, five).
posted by purpleclover at 10:04 AM on November 8, 2013

Have you tried substituting kale for spinach in a recipe? I'll also sometimes take all the greens I like to saute and just saute them together. Maybe you'd find it more palatable in a medley of spinach, tomatoes, etc etc
posted by lownote at 10:06 AM on November 8, 2013

I eat a ton of kale and probably 75% of the time I cook it like this: Wash, chop. Chop a clove or two of garlic. Saute garlic and some crushed red pepper in olive oil; add kale and sprinkle with salt; saute a bit, add a little water, put the lid on, turn the heat down, and cook until done. For you especially--taste it while it's cooking to see how you like it, because it's really a totally different vegetable at different degrees of doneness.
posted by HotToddy at 10:08 AM on November 8, 2013

My husband hates kale, and we belong to a CSA. My greatest success has been substituting kale for broccoli rabe in a Lydia Bastianich recipe I have for pasta with broccoli rate, chickpeas, and garlic. This is the closest that a cursory internet search turns up.
posted by kestrel251 at 10:09 AM on November 8, 2013

It's worth noting too that the trendy "zomg this is so healthy" kale recipes where you cook it for 30 seconds tops aren't really that much healthier than the old-fashioned ones where you stew it nice and slow with stock and vinegar and onions and smoked meat. And the longer you cook it, and the more strong-flavored things you cook it with, the more it turns from "bitter" into "rich and deep."

I mean, okay, you lose a bit of the vitamin content if you cook it like that. (Though only a bit, especially if you drink the broth.) But you lose all the vitamin content if you decide it's disgusting and chuck it in the garbage, so if cooking it well-done makes it palatable for you then you're still coming out ahead.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:11 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah, marinating is KEY.

I was in the hate kale camp (so freakin chewy!!), until I accidently ordered a kale salad at a restaurant and it was delicious! Raw kale!

1. Chop some kale very thinly, discarding the stems.
2. Grab some shelled sunflower or pumpkin seeds and toss those in.
3. Add some dried currents, or if not available, dried raisins or cranberries.
4. Make a dressing with 2T of red wine vinegar, 2T of olive oil, and 1.5 t of honey and add.
5. Mix and let sit in the fridge.

The trick was to slice it very thin, dress it with an aggressive marinade, and let it sit for 2-3 hours.
posted by cacofonie at 10:15 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've found that the secret of perfectly crispy kale chips is not to wash the kale at all. Even with aggressive drying, it'll still retain some water and stay soggy in the oven. Just go straight to the tearing and tossing in olive stage. From there, everyone else's tips about cookie sheet types and bake time sound about right.
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:15 AM on November 8, 2013

Northern Spy Kale Salad has become my salad du jour. Its drop dead simple and stunningly delicious. I literally make it at least 3 times a month.

Also, all these folks taking about marinating. Sheesh- The answer is to MASSAGE THAT KALE. It'll turn it from an aggressive, mustardy, tough green to a supple, soft, savory bit of heaven, ready to give any meal a nutty kick.
posted by GilloD at 10:30 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

We love this kale, quinoa and feta salad (heavy on the feta!), with pecans and currents. SO SO SO good and so easy.
posted by girlpublisher at 10:32 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am obsessed with this Tuscan Kale Salad-- and I usually hate kale in a salad. You can use regular kale, just make sure you use the leaves and not the tough spines. Best part is that it's hearty enough that it tastes even better the second day. Leftover salad for the win!
posted by np312 at 10:55 AM on November 8, 2013

Chipotle Greens over Buttermilk Grits is one of my favorite recipes ever. So good. I'm not sure how this fits into paleo, but you could probably omit the grits and use the kale/tomato/chipotle as a decent side dish.
posted by Fig at 10:58 AM on November 8, 2013

Since you do paleo... one of the trainers at my gym offered up this recipe during our last challenge:

2 onions, chopped
5 julienned summer squash
1.5 cans of spaghetti sauce (avoid added sugar, etc.)
1 can tomato paste
mushrooms, to your taste (I hate mushrooms so I skip this)
2-3 lbs of grassfed ground beef (I use the 85/15 from Whole Foods)
1-2 heads of kale
fresh basil leaves
spices to taste: oregano, thyme, garlic, S&P

You start off by sauteeing the onions in your fat of choice, then cook and break up the beef, add the sauce/paste, then the squash 'noodles,' and after you cook it for 2 minutes or so dump all the kale in and cook it down. (The kale, even in a large pot, will be practically overflowing, so you just cover the pot and wait for it to cook down.) Add the basil at the end, cook for a couple more minutes, and then serve/store. This makes a TON of food and gets you a lot of green servings quickly. This was essentially my set of lunches for the week. The kale adds a nice crunchy consistency to it, especially the stems.
posted by Kosh at 10:58 AM on November 8, 2013

Kale Caesar salad! A local restaurant here, Pastaria, makes an amazing one with bread crumbs. This is a recipe inspired by that. Also, chefs at another local restaurant here, Cleveland-Heath, shared their secret for making kale great: bashing the hell out of it on a cutting board or counter to soften it, then giving it a lemony, garlicky, spicy dressing. Here's a recipe inspired by their salad.

Also, re: the kale chips, the necessary ingredients are drying with a salad spinner and paper towels, the right amount of heat (you have to experiment with your oven's settings a little), the right amount of time (there's a sweet spot between dry and burnt), and not too much oil. It can be a little time-consuming at first, but once you get those factors down, it's a great way to make "crunchies," as my nephew calls 'em, which really are addictive.
posted by limeonaire at 11:07 AM on November 8, 2013

We eat kale like we eat the Italian (Neapolitan) Friarielli and it's delicious. I don't find it very bitter at all.

I recommend cutting the tough pale green stems (you can use these in stir fry later on if you like, or you can leave them on, but it makes it rather crunchy) and ribboning the dark green parts before steaming them for a few minutes until they go limp. Then we follow the recipie almost exactly above, including the chili-- sauteeing the steamed Kale for about 8 minutes until it's cooked but a little tender. If you want it more garlick-y, press or squash the clove. Be generous with the oil. You don't need to steam the kale-- you can also sautee directly, but I usually steam first.

It's good on it's own, especially with fresh crusty bread, but we also pair it with either Italian-style beef or pork spiced sausages. It works great together.

The friarielli recipie also works wonderfully with other leafy greens like bok choy, and broccoli rabe too.

If you still can't palate it after that, then possibly kale is not for you.
posted by Dimes at 11:24 AM on November 8, 2013

Nthing massaging. I became obsessed with kale after eating a Whole Foods salad of massaged kale and mashed avocado; I now make a version of that with Trader Joe's lower-far guacamole.

Also, slow-cooked kale; read what David Tanis has to say in this awesome book.
posted by BibiRose at 11:28 AM on November 8, 2013

I don't normally like kale either, but I really enjoy it with sausage. My favorite is a Portugese-style soup like the one jamaro linked. Here is my super-simple "recipe" (totally not really a recipe, kind of a dump-and-stir routine):

1 bunch of kale, torn or sliced into small pieces
Can of kidney beans
12 oz of some sort of spicy smoked sausage (chourico is the ideal, but I've used everything from chicken andouille to kielbasa and it's all good)
4 cups of chicken broth
Chopped onion
Garlic and chili flakes to taste

Sautee the garlic and onions, then the sausage (i like to slice it first, so more of it gets browned). Deglaze the pot with the chicken broth, add beans (drain the liquid and rinse first), and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add the kale in bunches and simmer till it's the consistency you like. This is a good warm, hearty soup for a winter weekday night - the whole thing is done in under a half hour and it makes great leftovers. The flavor comes primarily from the sausage.

Another non-recipe thing I like to do with kale and sausage is Italian sausage with kale, pasta and parmesan. Start some pasta and add shredded kale to the water when it's about 5 minutes from being done (may need to experiment with the timing here depending on how cooked you like your kale). Meanwhile, sautee some onions and brown some Italian sausage in a large pan/skillet. When the pasta/kale is done, drain it and add it to the sausage. Top with parmesan and you have another quick, easy, hearty meal.
posted by lunasol at 11:30 AM on November 8, 2013

oops, missed the paleo note. In that case, the pasta dish is out, but you can definitely make the Portuguese soup without beans - maybe use more onions and if you want, a few chopped red potatoes to bulk it up.
posted by lunasol at 11:35 AM on November 8, 2013

The first time I ate kale, I added shredded strips of it to a risotto, covered it with a lid, and let it steam for about 5 minutes. The risotto had onion, feta, lemon zest and chilli flakes in it. The slight bitterness really worked with the creamy sweetness of the risotto.
posted by teraspawn at 11:38 AM on November 8, 2013

The Moosewood Cooking for Health's "Our Favorite Raw Slaw" is pretty good. Are oil and vinegar OK by paleo standards? If so, this should be fine:

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Dash of cayenne
3 cups very finely chopped kale, ribs removed
1 cup minced red cabbage
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 cup grated apples

1. Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, peper, thyme, and cayenne
2. Toss the kale, cabbage, carrots, and apples together. Pour on marinade, stir well, let sit for at least 30 mins at room temperature. Add more pepper/thyme to taste.
3. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
posted by JDHarper at 11:50 AM on November 8, 2013

I didn't see this anywhere with a quick control-f, so forgive me if you already know or it's been mentioned.

I find that all bitter leafy greens are less bitter if soaked for a while (like a good 30-60 minutes) prior to cooking. I usually get home, throw raw kale in a big bowl of water, swish it around, and let it sit while I go do other stuff. Then, when I get back into the kitchen, swish it around in the water again, drain, and cook/use as you would for any recipe.

Bonus: soaking in a big bowl of water means less cleaning time for you too (don't need to do additional rinses). If the kale is super muddy then I sometimes trade out the soaking water 1 or 2 times.

I do this with kale, cabbage, dandelion greens, mizu, etc....anything bitter.
posted by holyrood at 11:55 AM on November 8, 2013

If you like Brussels sprouts, this salad is excellent.
posted by magicbus at 12:14 PM on November 8, 2013

I have a teenage son who despises kale. But we've found he'll tolerate it under specific conditions.

1. Cut out the stalks. Even if they don't appear significant, cut them out.
2. Cut it into smaller pieces than you think. I'd say 1" squares.

With both of those prepping tips, cooked kale starts to take on a more spinach-like quality. I've also found that pairing the kale with someone sweet also helps with the, um, kale-ness. So in a salad, add it with a sweeter dressing and some cranberries or apples. In a cooked dish, add some raisins or squash.

Given my household, I never have kale as the star ingredient. It's always in the background with strong spices. On my own, I still prefer mixed with fruit than on its own.
posted by frizz at 12:16 PM on November 8, 2013

I pretty much eat kale only in soup.

I make it by stripping it off the stalk & then chopping. Add (2 bunches) to a stockpot with 6c chicken stock, 6c water (already boiling), a pound of crumbled sausage or ground turkey that I have pre-cooked, and a can or two of white beans. Easy peasy.

(Of course, that's a lot of soup! I usually freeze half for a later meal. You could also cut the measurements in half easily).
posted by vignettist at 12:24 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot of these recipes have the same thing in common: long, slow cooking. Taste the kale as it cooks and if it still tastes bitter, keep cooking. I frequently extend the cooking time for kale and other dark greens like turnip greens and collards if they still taste bitter or "raw" at the end of the recipe's suggested cooking time.

Adding a sweet or sour flavor during or after cooking also improves the flavor.
posted by bbq_ribs at 12:34 PM on November 8, 2013

Okay, as per your follow up, and commenting on my recipe above, just leave out the oats and don't prepare any potatoes. The rest is as kaleo as you can get.
posted by Namlit at 12:49 PM on November 8, 2013

Sauteeeing brassicas like kale in a little milk (a few tbl... just enough that it's wet, but not pooling or just enough to cover the bottom of pan) will take some of the bitterness out, if that's what bothers you. Drain and add to soup, saute etc. This does prohibit kale chips, however.

I do this with brussels sprouts sometimes.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:00 PM on November 8, 2013

Kale is just bad. But I've discovered it is edible if steamed for a long time, and then creamed, like one would spinach. Or if used in soups in tiny squares, again cooked for ages.
I'm planning to experiment with kale in place of spinach in one of those Central Asian stews. Like this one. That might be good. But I'd chop up the kale real fine.
Several people in my family claim to enjoy kale, which makes me think it might be one of those food-stuffs you are genetically programmed for or against.
posted by mumimor at 1:55 PM on November 8, 2013

Zuppa Toscano, preferably made with lacinato (dinosaur) kale and sweet Italian sausage. It's easy to sub out either cannellini beans or even better cauliflower for the potatoes. It's incredibly easy, delicious and filling.
posted by vers at 2:09 PM on November 8, 2013

One more braised kale recipe that is paleo-friendly (the cheese is optional:)

2 bunches green or red kale or mixture
1 small can of stewed tomatoes
1 large onion
6 gloves of garlic
1 5” x 1” x 3” piece of Pecorino Romano cheese
olive oil

Brown onion and garlic in oil until carmelized
Add kale (pulled off the stem) and mix in
pour in can of stewed tomatoes and one can of water
steam (put lid on) until wilted over medium heat - keep stirring like every 3-5 minutes until soft
turn off heat and add cheese in small ½ inch cubes
Add salt and pepper to taste
Let it steam for another 10 minutes until soft enough to your liking, remove from pan/pot with a slotted spoon.
posted by np312 at 2:48 PM on November 8, 2013

Kale Salad (best with lacinato/dinosaur kale)

-1 bunch kale
-several lemons
-a red onion
-roasted almonds
-olive oil

Tear the kale leaves from the stems; throw the stems away.
Slice the kale into thin strips.
Pour several tablespoons of olive oil over the kale, and massage it with your hands for a couple of minutes until it softens a bit.
In the meantime, juice the lemons. Slice the onion into think strips and submerge it in the lemon juice. (You'll want to use about half an onion.) Let it sit in the lemon juice for half an hour or more (up to a couple of days). The lemon juice will soften the onion and mellow its flavor.
When you're ready, add the lemon juice and onion mixture to the massaged kale. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finished with chopped roasted almonds right before you're ready to serve.

If you're like almost everyone I've met, you will wish you had a never-ending supply of this salad so you could eat it every day.

Plain Old Kale

Kale (either kind)
Olive oil

Chop the kale into thin strips. Remove any significant stems.
Boil a big pot of water. Make the water very salty. Something about the salt helps keep the kale bright green.
When it's boiling, blanch the kale for a few minutes.
Drain the kale.
Now, heat a few T of olive oil in a frying pan. Add sliced shallots and cook on a low-medium heat until they start to caramelize a bit. Add the kale and continue to sauté until the kale is tender to your taste. You can add a small amount of water if it's necessary, but it probably won't be because of the blanching.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 2:52 PM on November 8, 2013

Butter. Garlic. Salt. Frying pan.

(Add roast beef and gravy to taste.)
posted by popcassady at 3:24 PM on November 8, 2013

Sarson Ka Saag is supposed to be made with mustard greens but I sub kale or do a mix of both greens.
posted by vespabelle at 4:58 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Back in March I read, right here on AskMe, this amazing raw kale salad recipe. I have probably eaten like 10 or 20 raw bunches of kale since then.

It does keep well as leftovers, but it's so delicious that my partner and I often eat the entire bunch in one sitting between the two of us. I know, that's a lot of kale, but you just start and can't stop. Thank god it's healthy. I make it with bottled lemon juice and pre-minced garlic when I'm feeling lazy or don't have fresh on hand. Also, I love garlic, so I often use much more than 1 clove.
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:30 AM on November 9, 2013

When I get a tough or bitter bunch of greens I boil it in plenty of lightly salted water until tender, then drain and toss with butter or ghee (or any tasty fat) before serving. You do lose some vitamins to the water along but you also lose the bitterness and improve the digestability of the fiber. For flavor/color I often toss in some matchstick cut carrots towards the end of the boiling too.
posted by cali at 9:49 PM on November 9, 2013

There are tons of good suggestions, but one thing I wanted to mention is the simplest: steam it and throw some ume plum vinegar on it. It's amazing.
posted by emcat8 at 5:19 PM on November 10, 2013

I was inspired by this thread and made something with kale this weekend - I chopped up a large onion and a bunch of carrots, sauteed those in a deep, wide pan until the onion started to soften, added a lot of garlic and added a bunch of de-stemmed, sliced kale along with probably 1.5 cups of water and a little salt. I covered it and cooked it for a total of about thirty-five minutes, checking on it occasionally. The broth was already pretty good, but I added some tomato paste and white wine. I also added a splash of balsamic vinegar which made it a bit too sweet in my opinion, but some people like that. I kept it on low with the lid off for another five or ten minutes to concentrate the flavors and served it over polenta. It was really good, far far better than I expected. I didn't feel like the kale (the curly kind) was bitter at all, or too chewy.
posted by Frowner at 8:54 AM on November 11, 2013

Yesterday mr. crankylex made the soup that jamaro linked to above and it is amazing.
posted by crankylex at 5:02 PM on November 11, 2013

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