Recipes / Salads / Sides

Getting My Greens: Kale

Everyone has been all a-twitter about kale these days, and after some prompting by some friends I finally took the plunge and picked up some up. I was a little skeptical about kale because my only experience with it thus far was using it as a garnish for molded jello when I worked wait staff at an old folks home in Pennsylvania. Believe me, it took me several years to get over the trauma of that particular gig. Luckily for me now, I can see the benefits of this tough leafy green.

Kale by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman

They don’t carry kale at my local grocery store so I headed out to the Whole Foods in Brentwood to find it. I never went to Whole Foods in NYC because the lines were always insane, and this was my first trip to Whole Foods here in St. Louis. Whoever came up with the idea for Whole Foods is a genius: beautifully presented food with a wide variety of products equals big bucks. The best part is that Whole Foods makes you feel like you are a good person for paying out the wazoo for food. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. The food is awesome and is probably worth the additional cost. I guess I’m just a bit too cynical to shop at Whole Foods without having an attitude about it. And frankly all I’m doing is whining because I’m certainly not going to stop shopping there. They have Neat! Organic! Stuff!

Anyways, I found and bought some green kale and some purple kale to make as a side dish for dinner. Raw kale is very similar to a rubber scrub brush – it feels completely tough and inedible. Once you’ve cooked it though, this toughness translates into crisp freshness. I have to say, in general, I liked it a lot. I am often craving greens along with my dinner, but with all this cold weather, a lettuce salad doesn’t make me feel all warm inside. On the other hand, when I make something like sautéed spinach, it reduces down so much and I always feel like it just serves as vessel for the oil. Kale, on the other hand, is tough enough to maintain it’s color and shape. This crispness even when cooked makes it seem healthy, and apparently it is. The green kale was certainly prettier when cooked. The purple kale turned into kind of an ugly dark green when cooked rather than a vibrant purple like I hoped. Together they make for a nice contrast in presentation though, bright green and dark green together. I was unable to distinguish much of a taste difference between the two.

Kale by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman

Based on the advise that I got on twitter, I gave it a rough chop (after realizing that I was too lazy to do a proper julienne), blanched it in boiling water for several minutes. I drained the kale and ran it under cold water, then stir-fried it with a little olive oil for a couple minutes more. I served it topped with sea salt along side an experimental beef and chorizo meatloaf. It was crunchy and delicious. There was some discussion on Twitter about kale being bitter, but I guess the blanching took care of that because I didn’t detect any bitterness at all. I’m going to add this to my side dish repertoire. I need to remember that I can make hot sides that are healthy. In addition to kale I’m also going to try to do more with broccoli, swiss chard and beet leaves (as suggested by @MoEats). If I eat more greens that means I can drink more whiskey, right?


  • Lindsay
    January 27, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I picked up beets with greens attached in your honor. If there is kale at the market Saturday, I might pick some up and try yet again… the peer pressure is getting to me!

    • ShootToCook
      January 27, 2011 at 9:06 am

      Join the cuuuult. Kale is good…kale is great…kale is good….kale is great…

      I nearly picked up the beets with greens at Whole Foods while I was there too. Next time. Beets are another thing I’d like to try cooking more of. I had a lovely beet and goat cheese salad over the holiday in NYC which was frickin’ amazing.

  • Stacy @ Every Little Thing
    January 27, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I like the Brentwood Whole Foods. They often have organic kale 2 for $3, which is an awesome deal!

    I just love kale’s versatility. I have added it to baked beans, stuffed chicken, etc. and it always fits in well. Sometimes I chop it up finely and add it to regular lettuce in salads, just to get the nutrients from it.

    Try kale chips next!

    • ShootToCook
      January 27, 2011 at 9:04 am

      I paid $2.49 for a smallish bunch of green kale at that Whole Foods! Maybe I got something fancy by accident? Kimberly over at Rhubarb and Honey also suggested kale chips. I’m definitely going to give it a shot.

      • Stacy @ Every Little Thing
        January 27, 2011 at 9:15 am

        I think it was just a sale, not their regular price, but keep checking for it! I need to get with the beets, seems like everyone’s been talking about those too!

  • Ericka
    January 27, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I love kale. I have a yummy vegan stew I make with it, sweet potatoes and black beans, but I am also all for a little olive oil, red onions, hit of acid and a light sprinkling of nutmeg. Yummy.

    Whole Foods = Whole Paycheck. I only have limited privileges to shop there, it gets crazy. It’s SO PRETTY!

  • Kimberly
    January 27, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Glad you liked the kale … can’t wait to hear what you think about kale chips (and thanks for the mention)!

    Swiss chard is another favorite of mine … wash, rough chop, and then just saute for a few minutes until it’s slightly wilted … splash with a little balsamic or champagne vinegar and sea salt … yum!

    I too used to think of Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck,” but I have changed my tune on that. When my husband and I plan out our weekly meals and shop the Whole Foods sales, we actually spend less on groceries and eat much better in the process (a caveat though: we are in a bi-weekly CCSA so we do get food from there too so we buy a little less at Whole Foods those weeks).

    We were really good about it last year, then the holidays got to us … we’re getting back on track next week. Perhaps I’ll have to blog about my Whole Foods shopping trips!

    • ShootToCook
      January 27, 2011 at 11:28 am

      If there is a way to do Whole Foods without breaking the bank I’d love to hear it!

  • Sara
    January 27, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Mmm, Kimberly is right – Swiss chard is delish! I just tried a sauteed Kale and found it was a bit bitter. I’m going to try the blanching first next time – that’s a good idea.

    I’m a Whole Foods shopper, and I like it the best out of my other options because I eat a lot of veggies. I have found that their produce is extra fresh and keeps longer which means no $$ in the trash because things went bad!

    Whole Foods makes their dough from the departments along the perimeter of the store (produce, meats & seafood, cheeses, bakery). But they often have pretty good deals in the center of the store. And I have really liked all of the 365 brand (Whole Foods’ generic) products I’ve tried.

    • ShootToCook
      January 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      I picked up some of the 365 flour to try. It is cheaper than the King Arthur flours, and since I do a lot of baking I’m hoping it is good. My dad grows swiss chard for my sister in his garden but never eats it himself – she always drags it home. Too bad his garden is in Pennsylvania or I could get it fresh (along with all kinds of other great garden veggies)!


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