How to cook kale

It was practically groundbreaking. The news I heard last summer while rifling through the fridge, looking for the bunch of kale I’d bought for dinner.

“Has anyone seen the kale?” I asked the kids, with zero expectation that they’d know of its whereabouts.

Instead the response came back, “Yeah, we had it for snack today.”

“Kale?” my eyebrows went up, “For snack?”

They’d cooked and eaten about six cups of kale for themselves and a a cousin visiting from out of town.

“How’d you make it?” I had to ask.

“We cooked it. Dale’s way,” they said.

Dale, as in Uncle Dale, who is famous for the kale he makes whenever he cooks for the kids. It’s a method, apparently, so quick and so good, my children opted for leafy greens in lieu of the popcorn in the cupboard and the yogurt pops in the freezer.

Groundbreaking indeed. So much so, that I figured I ought not keep Dale’s Kale to myself (isn’t it a happy thing, by the way, that Dale, conveniently rhymes, with Kale?).

Here’s the “how to” in pictures for these savory sauteed greens. In truth, it’s MY interpretation of the KIDS interpretation of Dale’s Kale. Key is to use a big, sturdy pan, which gets piping hot and cooks the kale quickly, resulting in greens that are at once tender and spotted with appealingly crispy brown patches. I’ve taken to adding a squeeze of lemon and pinch of red pepper flakes at the end.

Maybe you’ll like this for supper.

Or who knows? Maybe for a snack. (watch your back, Goldfish).

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  • 1 bunch kale (any variety)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Half lemon (optional)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Strip the leaves of kale from the stems. Store the stems for another use or discard/compost.
  2. Wash the kale leaves and dry it well. Wet kale won't get crispy and will spatter when it hits the pan.
  3. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of a knife. Remove the skins.
  4. Set a large, heavy (ideally cast iron) pan over high heat. When it's good and hot, add the olive oil and garlic to the pan. Let it sizzle for about 30 seconds, doing your best not to let the garlic brown.

  5. Add as much of the kale as will comfortably fit in the pan (kale hates to be uncomfortable). Add a generous pinch of salt. Use a pair of tongs to turn the kale in the pan to wilt sightlyt. After about 30 seconds to a minute, when the kale reduces, add more raw kale and continue until all of the kale is in the pan.
  6. Cook until the kale is tender, with brown patches here and there. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Add a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.
  7. Transfer to serving dish.

12 Ways to Cook Frozen Kale

  1. add frozen kale to your green smoothie like this kale apple smoothie
  2. stir frozen kale into any soup, chili, or stew (this vegetable chili with kale is a great idea)
  3. toss your favorite pasta dish with kale like I did in my lemon kale pasta with dried cherries
  4. add kale to these vegan enchiladas, these bean burritos, or sprinkle it onto open-faced tacos
  5. give your frozen kale a quick sauté with some olive oil, a clove or two of garlic, and some salt (stir in some frozen shrimp for protein and you’ve got a quick dinner meal straight from your freezer)
  6. stir kale into your scrambled eggs or add to an omelette 
  7. top your favorite pizza with frozen kale
  8. toss this cheesy kale pesto with spaghetti
  9. stir frozen kale into your homemade mac & cheese
  10. add frozen kale to a quiche or other type of pie like this crustless quiche or sub out the spinach for kale in my mom’s famous spinach pie 
  11. add kale to your fried rice like this (yum)
  12. make a grown-up grilled cheese with kale, caramelized onions, cheddar, and sourdough bread

12 delicious recipes for cooking up quick and easy weeknight meals using frozen kale.

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