When I think of Kale, the first thing that comes to mind is collard greens or spinach. Its big leafy texture and its pungent flavor has always been a big turn off for me, so naturally I never bought the vegetable …. until a few months ago. After discovering the nutritional value and health benefits of this cabbage family vegetable, I was determined to find different ways to cook it and make it tasty enough to eat.
The nutritional value of Kale is mind blowing. It contains phytochemicals like cancer fighting indoles, that have been found to protect against breast, cervical and colon cancer. It is loaded with calcium, iron, vitamins A & C, and bone building vitamin K. Kale also contains 7 times the beta carotene of broccoli, and 10 times as much lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids known to help protect against macular degeneration (that nasty eye disease that results in blurred vision and blindness). Just the mention of macular degeneration was all I needed to hear – this vegetable was definitely going to be a part of our meals.
So aside from adding Kale to some remarkably tasting GREEN DRINKS and SMOOTHIES, I happened upon a site called Eat Local Green, that featured the article 10 Ways to Prepare Kale. Since this discovery, I’ve already made the Sauteed Kale, the Kale Soup, Kale Lasagna and the Kale Pizza – all of which have been yummy. The next one on my list to make is the Kale Chips, which you have to admit is so much better for you than a bag of Dorito’s or Lays.
So anyways, here are the 10 suggested ways to prepare kale and my featured recipe, Kale Pizza, for this wonderful new discovery of mine. I hope you enjoy the flavors as much as I have. Cheers to your good health :-)
10 WAYS TO PREPARE KALE
Kale Chips – This simple preparation of kale will have you begging for more. A crispy salty treat that is better than popcorn or potato chips.
Kale Pesto – More flavorful than basil pesto, this is a great addition to pizza, pasta, or in an omelet.
Sauteed Kale – For a hearty side dish, this is a classic preparation. I saute onions and garlic before I add the kale, and add a couple dashes of hot sauce for an added kick.
Kale Quiche – You can substitute any spinach quiche with kale and it offers the same great taste with the added health benefits.
Kale Soup – A classic kale soup is made with white beans and ham or sausage, however I like this recipe of using acorn squash and kale to create a sweet and savory winter favorite.
Kale Lasagna – The perfect “make ahead” recipe for a hearty dinner is a dish the whole family can enjoy.
Kale Juice – If you own a juicer, kale is quite possibly the healthiest thing to juice. Mix it with apples, carrot and a little lemon for a drink that is better for you than liquid gold.
Kale Slaw – You can substitute raw kale for raw cabbage in this recipe.
Kale Pasta – One of my favorite ingredients to add to pasta. Goes with just about anything from spaghetti to sausage pasta to baked macaroni and cheese.
Kale Pizza – One of the joys I’ve found with eating seasonally is changing up my grilled pizza toppings. One of my favorite combinations is sauteed kale, caramelized onions, strong white cheeses, and some crispy bacon.
FEATURED RECIPE – WHITE PIZZA WITH KALE, compliments of When Harry Met Salad
For the crust
Pizza dough, like any bread, is tricky. I’ve tried a number of recipes and had the best luck with the one featured at the end of this post. The recipe calls for 1½ cups of flour; I usually use ½ c. of all purpose flour, ½ of whole wheat flour, and ½ c. of bread flour. I like the nuttiness the wheat flour lends to the crust, plus white foods make me feel guitly.
For the topping
4 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale (about 12 oz.)
1 T. water
6-8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼” slices
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
¼ c. parmesan, grated
1) Preheat oven to 500°F or as hot as it will go without being set to broil. Roll out pizza dough, sprinkle baking sheet or pizza stone with cornmeal and transfer dough to prepared pan. Mix 2 T. olive oil with 1 clove minced garlic and set aside.
2) To strip the kale from the white ribs fold the leaf in half lengthwise, grip the stem end in one hand, and run your other hand down the length of the leaf. Chop the leaves into small pieces and discard the stems. Heat the remaining 2 T. olive oil and remaining minced garlic clove in a large sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant (less than a minute). Add the chopped kale and water; toss to combine. Cover and steam for about two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the greens to a paper-towel-lined plate and let rest.
3) Brush the garlic oil mixture over the pizza dough. Top with mozzarella, then scatter the kale over the cheese. Crumble goat cheese over the kale, then top with grated parmesan.
4) Bake in preheated oven 8-12 minutes, or until crust is crisp and cheese is bubbly. Cut into wedges or strips (or what have you) and serve.
DOUGH RECIPE, compliments of Smitten Kitchen
Yield: One small, thin-crust pizza.
6 tablespoons warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)
2 tablespoons white wine
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups flour
Cornmeal for sprinkling
Flour for dusting counter
1/2 pound torn-up buffalo mozzarella
Few leaves of torn-up basil
Whisk wine, water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved. Add honey, salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour and no matter how dry it looks, work it with a spoon and your fingers until it comes together as a dough. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if you need, but in my experience, this is almost never necessary.
Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the dough for a minute or two.
If you’re like me and always trying to reduce the number of dirty dishes left at the end of the night, wash the bowl you made the dough in, dry it and coat the inside with olive oil. Put the dough in, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour or up to two, until it is doubled.
[Easiest way to tell if a dough has risen enough? Dip two fingers in flour, press them into the dough, and if the impression stays, it’s good to go. If it pops back, let it go until it doesn’t.]
Preheat your oven to its highest temperature. If you have a pizza stone, sprinkle it with cornmeal and put it in the oven. Otherwise, sprinkle a baking pan with the same.
Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured counter and gently deflate the dough with the palm of your hands. Form it into a ball and let it rest on a floured spot with either plastic wrap over it (sprinkle the top of the dough with flour so it doesn’t stick) or an upended bowl. In 15 minutes, it is ready to roll out.
Do so on the floured counter until pretty darn thin, then lift it onto a cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet or pizza paddle. Add your toppings.
Slide the pizza from the paddle to your preheated pizza stone, or just put the baking sheet in the oven as is.
Bake for about 10 minutes, checking at 7. Slice and serve immediately.