Kale is a versatile green that you can saute or steam and serve as a side dish. It makes a nutritious addition to soups and bean and grain dishes. Raw kale adds a peppery zip to sandwiches and salads. When cooking kale, expose it to heat just long enough to turn it bright green and tender. Quick cooking causes enzyme activity that brings out flavor. When kale is boiled for any length of time, these enzymes break down and create a pungent smell resembling cooked cabbage.

Things You'll Need

Select bright-colored kale free from yellow spots. Wash kale thoroughly in cold water. Remove the tough central stems by folding the leaves in half and carving out the stems. Cut the kale into small piece by stacking several leaves together and rolling them up. Chop into thin strips.

Saute kale by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook until light brown. Lower the heat to medium and add kale in small bunches, stirring until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Use tongs to transfer each batch to a serving dish. Top with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Add a pinch of nutmeg or a bit of Italian seasoning mix, if you wish. If you prefer to avoid oil, saute the kale in water.

Steam kale by filling a pan with a small amount of water — no more than 1/4 inch — to avoid washing away flavor and nutrients. Fill the steamer with a small batch of kale. Once the water begins to steam, place the steamer in the pan and cover. Tender kale can steam in about 3 minutes. Older leaves may require 5 minutes. Remove each batch with tongs. Steamed kale can be seasoned and eaten or added to soup, pasta and vegetable dishes.

Select young, tender kale when eating it raw. Wash the leaves and remove the stem. If adding raw kale to salads, chop into bite-sized pieces. Even young raw kale can be slightly tough, so mix the kale with other greens. Raw kale can also replace — or be an addition to — lettuce on any sandwich. Older kale can be “massaged” before eaten raw: Coat your hands with olive oil and gently rub chopped leaves between your hands for about a minute. This makes them softer and less chewy.


  • Dirt and insects may cling to your kale leaves, so it is essential to wash them thoroughly.