Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen - Catching up with kale: Finding ways to love this nutrient-rich green

By JANINE GILBERTSON January 10. 2017 8:18PM
Kale, Apple and Pecan Salad with Tangy Yogurt Dressing (JANINE GILBERTSON)

I was flipping through television channels the other day when I saw celebrity chef Bobby Flay holding a big pile of greens.

“If you’re not eating kale, you’re not eating,” Flay said.

I thought this over. When the kale craze started a few years ago, I bought a bunch and tried it in a salad. My family was not impressed, so I never bought it again.

Since then, I’ve seen kale served in dozens of ways: sauteed, blended in smoothies, braised, tossed in salads, dehydrated and served as chips, boiled, steamed, stir fried and juiced. It’s everywhere.

I decided to give kale a second chance, mostly because it’s gained a reputation as one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. 

Kale is a member of the cabbage family and is low in calories. A serving of kale is packed with vitamins A, K, C and B6; manganese; calcium; potassium; and magnesium. It also contains antioxidants and is said to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

The trick is in finding ways to actually enjoy it. 

Its thick, ruffly leaves can be chewy, so cutting them into thin ribbons makes for a more pleasant texture if served raw in a salad. Since kale is a little bitter, it pairs well with sweet salad ingredients such as dried cranberries and apple with a sweet or tangy dressing.

You can also tenderize the leaves by de-ribbing them, sprinkling them with a little kosher salt, olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and massaging them before you turn them into a salad. Tenderizing the leaves makes them a little softer and sweeter, which makes them tastier. 

Add some fresh tomatoes and some shredded Parmesan cheese to those tenderized leaves and you have a super-healthy, light lunch.

Another great way to enjoy kale is sautéed with mushrooms, garlic and sweet onion with a little bacon or pancetta. This makes an excellent side dish when served with roasted meats.

Kale is also nicely disguised in quiche. I sautéed some ham and onion and added some kale and used it as a filling in a quiche I usually make with spinach and cheese. I don’t think anyone noticed the switch from spinach to kale, because the quiche disappeared as quickly as ever.

Maybe I was a little hard on kale at first. Maybe Bobby Flay was right. If you decide to try it, take some time to experiment with different cooking methods and find one you like. Your efforts will be rewarded.

Bacon, kale and mushroom saute. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Bacon, Kale and Mushroom Sauté

1/2 lb bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 lb kale

8 oz package sliced baby bella mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, chopped 

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Rinse the kale and pat dry. Using a paring knife or your hands, remove the ribs from the kale and tear the leaves into large pieces. Set aside. 

Add olive oil to a large, deep skillet set over medium high heat, then add chopped garlic. Sauté for one minute, then add the bacon. Cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, until the bacon begins to crisp.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until mushrooms soften.

Add the kale. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir well to combine. 

Sauté for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, until kale is tender. 

Kale, apple and pecan salad with tangy yogurt dressing. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Kale, Apple and Pecan Salad with Tangy Yogurt Dressing

3 cups green and purple kale, de-ribbed and torn into pieces

1/2 cup carrot ribbons (thin strips)

1 red apple, chopped

1/4 cup purple onion

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

juice from half a fresh lemon

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

3 tbsp prepared tzatziki cucumber dressing (store bought)

Add the kale to a large bowl and add the olive oil, salt and juice from the lemon. 

Using your hands, massage the kale leaves to tenderize them. 

Allow to set for about 5 minutes, then transfer the kale to a clean salad bowl. Add the carrot, apple, onion, pecans and dressing and toss to coat. 

Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Kale and ham quiche (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Kale and Ham Quiche

1 1/2 lb kale

1 cup chopped ham

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1/4 cup butter

2 tbsp flour

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup half and half

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

4 eggs

9 inch pie crust, pre-baked

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Set a large, deep skillet over medium high heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the onion and ham and cook for 3 minutes, until the onion is soft and slightly browned.

Add the kale and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. 

While the kale is cooking, combine the eggs, sour cream, half and half, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to combine. 

Add the flour to the skillet, sprinkling over the kale, ham and onion. Cook for 2 minutes, until flour is browned. 

Pour the egg mixture over the kale mixture and whisk to combine. Heat for one to two minutes, then pour into prepared pie crust. Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes, uncovered.

Remove quiche from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and slightly browned.


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