In much of the U.S., kale can be harvested well into the winter months. Seasonings complementary to kale include onions, garlic, pepper, salt, bacon, Italian seasonings, ginger, nutmeg, crushed red pepper, vinegar and lemon juice. Stick to this list and you can create many fine kale dishes. When making a soup with kale, ensure to include onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Pasta dishes with kale can benefit from these as well as bacon and Italian seasonings. If you are mixing kale with beans, add crushed red pepper and lemon juice. Steamed or sauteed, kale benefits from a dash of lemon, vinegar or nutmeg.
Steamed or Sauteed
Kale can be steamed in water or sauteed in oil. Strip the leaves from the stalk, chop and add it to a pan of heated olive oil or water. Add kale in batches, allowing each to cook down before including more. Once all of the kale is in the pan, add salt, Italian seasonings and/or nutmeg. Mix in chopped garlic. Cover the pan. When the kale is wilted and turns bright green, remove the lid so excess water evaporates. Add lemon juice or vinegar, which also enhances cooked kale. Bacon also adds to the flavor of sauteed kale. Cut one slice of bacon into small pieces and cook it completely before adding the kale. Sautee the kale in the bacon fat or drain it off and add a small amount of olive oil.
Kale in Soups
Nutritious kale can enrich many soups. It fits in well with soups using potatoes, chickpeas, white beans, sweet potatoes and pumpkin. Keep seasonings simple for these rustic soups. Start by cooking garlic and onions in oil. For potato soups, consider Italian seasonings. Beans and kale benefit from crushed red pepper. Ginger and nutmeg enhance kale soups with sweet potato or pumpkin. Add these ingredients, with salt, to taste. Sprinkle in pepper during the final minutes of cooking. If you want to add bacon, sautee it with the onion and garlic.
Kale and Potatoes
The traditional Irish dish “colcannon” — mashed potatoes and steamed kale mixed with milk — is a testament to kale as a complement for potatoes. Colcannon can be seasoned with just onion, salt and pepper, if desired. Kale and potatoes are both simple in nature and need only minimal seasoning. Create a delicious side dish by adding fresh kale in the last few minutes when cooking hash browns. Add fresh kale to potato soup. You will appreciate garlic and pepper in any dish with kale and potatoes. Add fresh, minced garlic to the potatoes before adding the kale. Sprinkle on salt, pepper, crushed red pepper or Italian seasonings.
Kale can be enjoyed fresh, just like spinach. Add young, tender kale leaves to salads and sandwiches. To season a sandwich with kale, add mustard and/or lemon juice while sprinkling on salt and pepper. Kale not only adds a nutritional boost to salad, it brings a distinctive peppery flavor. Once you’ve stripped the kale from its stem, chopped it and added to the salad, you only need to sprinkle on your favorite vinaigrette. You can also make a dressing of equal parts olive oil and lemon juice with added Italian seasoning to toss with a kale-enhanced salad.
References and ResourcesThe New Food Lover's Companion; Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
The New Laurel's Kitchen; Laurel Robertson, et al.
Vegetable Literacy; Deborah Madison.
Chez Panisse Vegetables; Alice Waters.