11 Quick and Easy Ways to Cook with Kale

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11 Quick and Easy Ways to Cook with Kale
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11 Quick and Easy Ways to Cook with Kale

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 thing 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.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

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. Purée 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.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

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.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

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.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

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° oven until crisp, 12-15 minutes.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

Japanese-Style Boiled Kale Salad
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.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

Baked Kale Mac-and-Cheese
4-6 servings
Make a béchamel 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 purée in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir kale into béchamel 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° oven until warmed through and browned on top, about 25 minutes.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

African-Style Stewed Kale
6 servings
Heat 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter in a large sauté pan. Add 1 chopped onion and 3 minced garlic cloves and sauté 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.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

Sautéed Kale with Toast and Eggs
1 serving
Slice 3 stemmed kale leaves into ribbons; heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet and cook kale with minced garlic until just tender, about 2 minutes. Spoon over crusty bread and top with a fried or poached egg.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

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; purée until smooth.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

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° oven until crust is golden, about 10 minutes.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

Kale-Spiked Mashed Potatoes
2-4 servings
Sauté 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.

Image Credit: Yossy Arefi-Afshar

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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 thing 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.

Check out the slideshow above to learn 10 delicious kale recipes that are quick and easy.

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