Learning to Love Kale

by Maria on October 18, 2012


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Although I have been getting kale in my CSA share for four years, it was not until this summer that I grew to love it. Until then it was a vegetable I admired for its stellar nutritional profile and beautiful, hearty composition. I would add it to soups or smoothies or sometimes just sauté it with garlic. I thought it was okay. But perhaps my taste buds have finally accepted that they need to become better friends with this super food.  While that is possible, I think it’s also likely that I finally figured out some good cooking techniques for this fibrous plant.

One technique that I have been using is to blanch the kale before adding it to a recipe. This makes it much more palatable and shrinks it in size a bit, while still retaining its beautiful color. Blanched kale works especially well in stir-fry's, salads, or for sautéing with garlic and olive oil. Apparently blanched kale also freezes well.

To blanch kale, first cook it in boiling salted water with the lid on for 2 minutes. Next transfer it to a bowl of ice water until it cools. Finally, drain it in a colander or salad spinner. 

Here is a tasty recipe featuring blanched kale. It’s adapted from a recipe in the New York Times for Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu With Kale and Red Pepper by Martha Rose Shulman. The main reason for my changes to this recipe was just to accommodate what I had on hand and tone down the spice a bit. Check out the link to Shulman’s article for the original recipe and some great information about this nutritious green.


Kale-Tofu Stir-Fry

Serves 4


1 bunch kale

1 14-ounce package firm tofu

1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy-sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry

¼ cup reduced sodium vegetable stock

1 teaspoon cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon grated ginger (or use 1 teaspoon dried)

1 bell pepper, cut into thin strips

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

1/4 cup cashews

  1. Wrap tofu in paper towels and place on a plate. Put another plate on top with a canned food item or other weighted object on top. Let it sit for about 20 minutes to help drain water out of the tofu, and then slice tofu into little ½-inch pieces.
  2. Add water and 2 teaspoons salt to a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the kale and blanch for 1 minute.  Transfer to a bowl of ice water and then strain water through a colander. After the kale has cooled and the excess water is drained, place kale on a cutting board and chop.
  3. Combine soy sauce, rice wine, stock, and cornstarch in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine salt, pepper, and sugar.
  4. Heat a nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add canola oil and then tofu. Stir-fry for 3-5 minutes, until it starts to get golden. Add in the garlic and stir-fry another 30 seconds.
  5. Add the bell pepper, kale, and salt-pepper-sugar mixture and toss to combine. Add the soy-wine-stock mixture and the sesame oil; stir-fry for another minute. Serve over rice or noodles. Top with cashews.

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Remember to having all ingredients prepped and nearby when starting the stir-fry. This is helpful fo any recipe, but especially for stir-frys, since everything cooks so quickly.


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