Kale is trendy for a reason: these earthy, dark green leaves are packed with nutrients and flavor, and they can adapt to all kinds of dishes. Read on for our best tips on choosing and prepping kale, plus delicious ways to prepare it from the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen.
Look for: In kale bunches, seek out dark green color and crisp, large, spreading leaves. Leaf shape and size will vary by type. Avoid any bunches that have brown or yellow leaves, or ribs that are dry or wilted enough to bend. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Prep tips: Wash kale as you would spinach: fill a large bowl with cold water, immerse the leaves, and then lift them out, letting the grit settle at the bottom. Repeat with fresh water until completely free of grit. Spin dry in a salad spinner. If the stems are fibrous, use a paring knife to cut them away, along with the tough center vein that runs along the center of each leaf. Discard the veins. Cut and cook the stems separately from the leaves, as they will take longer to become tender. Sautéed or simmered, stem pieces will take 5 to 10 minutes to cook.
Uses: Kale can be added to soups and sauces; it may be braised or sautéed as a side dish, chopped finely into fillings, and stirred into starchy accompaniments. Raw chopped leaves can be dressed and allowed to marinate for a short time before serving as a salad.
Kale and White Bean Crostini: Brush baguette slices with olive oil; sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350º F until golden brown. Saute chopped Tuscan kale in olive oil until slightly wilted. Add minced garlic and chicken broth. Cover; cook until almost tender. Add rinsed and drained cannellini beans; cook until broth is absorbed. Mash beans lightly with a fork. T0p crostini with bean-kale mixture.
Kale Salad with Apple and Walnuts: In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, cider vinegar, brown sugar, whole-grain mustard, minced shallot, salt and pepper. Tear green curly kale into small pieces; add to bowl. Add thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, toasted walnuts and vinaigrette; toss to combine.
Kale-Quinoa Bowl with Fried Egg: Simmer quinoa in salted water until tender. Saute chopped kale in olive oil until just tender; season with salt and pepper. Spoon quinoa into individual bowls. Top with kale and a fried egg.
Orecchiette with Kale and Sausage: Saute diced onion and minced garlic in olive oil until softened. Add crumbled Italian sausage; cook until browned. Drain on paper towels. Add sliced kale to pan; cook until tender, adding water if needed. Add red pepper flakes. Return sausage to pan. Toss with cooked and drained orecchiette pasta. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.