HOW TO COOK KALE┃4 EASY RECIPES

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I started to wonder about kale when I joined Rebecca on one of her weekly farmer’s market visits. What was it, that makes these green/purple leaves so popular nowadays?

Its thick, almost rubbery leaves are curly and chewy and it has a bitter taste. But you could find it everywhere: in healthy food and drinks but also more and more in beauty products. Apparently, this wonder veggie has shown that it clearly stands out from all the other healthy greens. In fact, it’s one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods out there:

• A cup of raw kale contains more vitamin C than a whole orange
• Kale is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients
• Kale is an excellent source of minerals, like calcium and magnesium
• Kale can help to lower cholesterol, which may reduce the risk of heart disease
• Kale is said to have numerous cancer-fighting substances
• Kale is packed with nutrients and can help prevent eye disorders

The bottom line: of all the healthy leafy greens, kale is king!

THE ONE WEEK KALE-CHALLENGE

How could I have missed this wonder veg all these years? New Years resolutions are not normally my cup of tea but I set myself the goal of starting 2019 with a one week kale challenge. I decided to do a little self-experiment and created a different kale dish every night. It was my ambition to find a way to implement and enjoy these greens in my daily diet. I was surprised how versatile and practical kale was; I ended up developing a base kale recipe which helped me to play around with other food elements.

Below you will find all the kale recipes from my one week kale-challenge which you can prepare and integrate easily in your daily life. Before we move on, a quick note on how to wash and keep kale fresh, as it's sometimes impossible to make your way through all the kale you've bought before it begins to wilt.

1 As soon as you get home from the grocery store, chop the kale first, then wash it

2 Shake out the excess water and wrap the slightly wet kale in paper towels

3 Store your kale in paper towels in a zip-bag in the fridge with the air squeezed outNe


KALE SMOOTHIE

PREP 10 MIN┃SERVES ONE GLASS

This recipe is inspired by „Teresas Juicery“ (www.teresasjuicery.com) at the healthy breakfast spot Flax & Kale (#flaxandkale) in Barcelona.

THE BASE - Ingredients

100 g seedless grapes
80 g cucumber, peeled
40 g kale
40 g frozen spinach
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp ginger

 
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DIRECTIONS

1 Start by mixing the grapes and cucumber together in your blender.

2 Add the kale, parsley, spinach and ginger. Blend and taste it. If you would like to spice up your smoothie just add a bit more ginger.

Notes This smoothie recipe is the perfect base to play around with additional fruits or vegetables. See below for further ideas I tried out myself.


ENHANCED

• Add 1 medium size pear, peeled or ½ banana to make it more sweet
• Add ½ apple, peeled to make your smoothie more sourish
• Add ½ avocado to make it more buttery and rich
• Add some flaxseeds for more protein

If the smoothie turns out to thick just add a bit more cucumber or (coconut) water.

Notes To save time in the morning, just prepare a bigger portion and freeze it in cubes. Add them into your blender (crush-function) and your smoothie is ready!

KALE SOUP

PREP 15 MIN┃COOK 25 MIN┃SERVES 2-3

THE BASE - Ingredients

1 medium-sized onion, diced
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1.5 tbsp thyme (without stalk) - remove from the stalk first before you wash
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1.5 cube chicken stock
1 litre water
A handful kale, chopped (depending on what else you add into your soup)
Salt & pepper

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DIRECTIONS

1 Heat up fat or olive oil in a medium sized saucepan and add diced onion. Turn the heat down and stir until onions are soft and golden brown.

2 Add the basil, thyme and pepper. Toast it for a bit to bring out the flavors and add a few drops of water if needed, to make sure it does not burn.

3 Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minute or more, stirring occasionally.

4 Now add the chicken stock dissolved in 1 litre water and turn the heat up. Let it simmer for a while and finally add the kale and let it cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste it and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Notes This kale soup is the ideal base to experiment with further ingredients, see below for some ideas you can try. With the base recipe you can save time by preparing a bigger portion and reuse it with different food elements in the following days. To keep the kale as fresh as possible don’t add it until you have chosen your additional ingredients. Also, keep in mind to adjust the cooking time according to those ingredients.


ENHANCED

Kale, chickpeas & wild rice soup

200 g wild rice
400 g tinned chickpeas
1 tsp ground cumin
1.5 tsp ground zaatar (Middle Eastern herb)
0.5 liters water
Salt & pepper

1 Once the base is ready, add the wild rice and let it cook

2 As soon as the rice is going to get soft, add the chickpeas with the zaatar, cumin and another 0.5 litre of water and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

3 At the very end you finish this dish with a handful of kale and let it cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

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Kale & lentil soup

100 g quick-cook red lentils, washed and uncooked
¼ tsp turmeric, ground
½ tsp sweet paprika
0.5 liters water

1 Add the red lentils with turmeric and sweet paprika once the base is ready and let it cook between 20 to 30 minutes. You can use different lentils if preferred. The cooking time might be different depending on the type of lentils you use.

2 When the lentils are more or less ready add a handful of kale and another 0.5 litre of water. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

KALE PASTA SAUCE

PREP 10 MIN┃COOK 10 MIN┃SERVES 2

This recipe originated from having an empty fridge on a Sunday afternoon, when all the shops in Switzerland were closed. There was not much left and after several hours of work, Rebecca and I were keen to eat pasta. She came up with the idea to mix frozen spinach and peas with the leftovers of a cheese plate. It was a sort of simple pesto variation dish. I played around with this recipe and decided to use kale instead.

THE BASE - Ingredients

3-4 leaves kale
30 g grated cheese (hard cheese works best but you can also try sheep or goat milk cheese if you would like to play around with the flavors)
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper/cayenne pepper

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DIRECTIONS

1 Heat up the water for the pasta in a medium saucepan and cook the kale leaves with the garlic cloves first for about 3 to 5 minutes.

2 Once they are soft put them in your blender with the grated cheese, olive oil, salt, pepper and 2 tbsp of the pasta water and blend it.

3 Drain the water once the pasta is ready and add the sauce to mix it.

KALE AS A SIDE DISH

PREP 10 MIN┃COOK 10 MIN┃SERVES 2

Asian inspired kale

150 g kale, washed and chopped
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp roasted sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Salt & pepper if needed


DIRECTIONS

1 Heat up cooking oil in a frying pan and add minced garlic. Sauté the garlic for about one minute over medium heat.

2 Add the washed kale to the pan. Stir and cook the kale leaves until it has wilted and appears glossy (maximum 5 minutes).

3 Add the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds to taste.


Kale, fennel, broccoli mix

Fennel, broccoli and kale - just the perfect combination for a side dish! I got this inspiration from the annual „Gourmet Traveller“ cookbook 2018, which is Australia's leading gourmet food magazine (www.gourmettraveller.com.au, #gourmettraveller).

1 fennel bulb (cut into thin slices lengthwise)
1 broccoli (separated into small pieces)
handful kale
2 tbsp roasted sesame oil
1 tbsp chili oil (if you like it spicy)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 spring onion, chopped
1 tbsp butter
Salt & pepper


DIRECTIONS

1 Heat up the roasted sesame oil together with the chili oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the minced garlic first for about one minute on medium heat. Afterwards put the spring onions in and let it cook for another minute.

2 Add the fennel and broccoli with the butter and cover the pan with a lid. Let it cook on low heat.

3 Once the vegetables are ready, add the kale and put salt and pepper in if needed.

Notes This side dish goes very well with a piece of fish or meat.


There are a bunch of delicious kale salad ideas which I haven’t tried out yet, as it‘s winter here in Switzerland and I prefer to serve warm meals. Stay tuned for more recipes as the season changes.

I hope this blog post inspired you to eat more kale. As you can see, kale is versatile and easy to prepare in many different ways.