Kale is a variety of cabbage and a member of the wider brassica family. As such, it often knows the same unenviable reputation of being flavorless, uninteresting and generally unpleasant to eat. The fact is that kale and other cabbages are delicious and nutritious when they are cooked properly, and kale can be cooked in a number of different tasty ways.
Preparing kale for cooking
The kale leaves should be broken from the whole cabbage one by one at their base. They should then be washed thoroughly in cold water. There is a thick, central core to each leaf which runs from the bottom about two-thirds of the way up toward the top. This can remain tough when the remainder of each leaf is cooked to perfection, so you may wish to cut it out via two long cuts in a “V” shape and discard it.
If you are looking for a particularly healthy and tasty way to cook kale, there is no better way to cook it than steaming it. Very roughly chop the kale and add it to the food holding part of your steamer. Do not season the kale at this stage as steaming brings out flavors where additional seasoning may not be necessary. Steam for four or five minutes before tasting a bit to see if it is done to your satisfaction.
Braised kale with onion and sage
Roughly chop the kale and finely slice a peeled white onion. The quantities should be two parts kale to one part onion. Gently heat a little vegetable oil in a large pot and add the onion and kale with a good pinch of dried sage. Season with black pepper and just a little bit of salt. Cook on a medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for seven or eight minutes.
This is the cooking method that most commonly causes people to dislike kale or any type of cabbage. That is for the simple reason that it is almost always overcooked. This causes the nutrients and flavors to be lost to the water and the kale to be served soggy and bland. Try instead roughly chopping the kale and adding it to boiling, salted water for two minutes only. Drain through a colander and serve immediately.
Stir fried kale
Chinese stir frying is one of the healthiest of all cooking methods. This is because the food is cooked very quickly, at incredibly high temperatures, meaning all the vitamins and minerals are retained in the food. Try bringing a tablespoon or so of peanut or sesame oil to a very high heat in a wok. Add some chopped kale, finely chopped garlic and stir fry for one minute. Remove from the heat, add some roughly chopped parsley, stir and serve.
What to serve with kale
Kale is incredibly versatile in terms of the principal main meals ingredients it complements. It is excellent with beef such as a quality steak but also goes well with lamb or pork. It can even go well with a robust, meaty white fish such as cod, haddock or pollock.