In the early days of our relationship, I was delighted to learn that my boyfriend could garden. And he actually enjoyed it, no less! One evening, he brought me a bag of his homegrown lacinato (dinosaur or cavolo nero) kale. With the frost, it was tender and sweet and I wish I remember what I cooked with it. Now living together in a flat in London, UK, without the opportunity to grow our own kale, we’re still both big fans of the winter green, currently purchased at the grocery store instead of picked from the backyard.
For dinner last weekend, I made a lovely little kale spaghetti dish perked up with sweet peas, lemon, and bacon. Whipping this up reminded me of just how versatile kale is is. Raw, cooked, stewed, creamed, baked–this green remains an all-star veg in my kitchen. It’s only really been the past 6 years or so that I’ve been eating and cooking kale (around the time I started this food blog), but I’ve certainly made up for lost time.
The health benefits of kale are boundless, rich in fibre, iron, beta-carotene, and a variety of other valuable vitamins and minerals. A further perk of kale is that it’s budget-friendly, a priority for me when it comes to eating well.
Healthy recipes have to be exciting, but that doesn’t mean overly complicated, which is why I wanted to round up my easiest, best, and most unique kale recipes from over the years. These dishes are versatile, beautiful, simple, fun (kale can be boring, am I right?), and most importantly, delicious.
A warming vegetable stew recipe using tender squash, chickpeas, harissa paste, and orange. This recipe, including the baked kale chips to garnish, comes together in just 30 minutes.
Strata doesn’t just make a great weekend breakfast and brunch, but an easy dinner when paired with a salad, too. This egg strata recipe is dairy-free, made with almond milk, but you can use whatever you have on hand and/or add cheese in the mix. Versatile, filling, and packed with savoury kale, eggs, and rustic sourdough bread.
I love how the sharp kale is levelled off by sweet beets and fruity black rice in this, my favourite, kale salad recipe. Black rice is sweet and tender, with a flavour reminiscent of brown rice with a bit more fruitiness (grape and raisin in taste, in my opinion). It retains its shape, but can be made into black rice pudding or porridge when stewed with milk (there’s a tropical-leaning coconut milk black pudding/porridge in my first cookbook Whole Bowls, if you’re curious). Just remember, if you’re throwing black rice in a soup or stew, it will turn the whole thing purple, so it’s best to use black rice as a bed for curries, a simple grain side dish, or in a kale salad like this.
Raw kale pesto is not for me, tasting far too grassy and vegetal. This mellow kale pesto uses steamed or blanched cooked kale, snuffing out its harshness. This recipe skips parmesan, which is what makes this kale pesto vegan. Toss with your favourite pasta, spread on a sandwich, stir into mayo, and more, the uses for kale pesto are endless.
A kale phyllo pie recipe based on the flavours of Greek spanakopita. Yogurt, eggs, and milk replace traditional feta for something fresh and new. Make this into a kale and spinach spanakopita by using half chopped cooked spinach, half chopped cooked kale. The filling is a really delicious sautéed kale recipe on its own.
A hearty vegan chickpea and kale soup (stew) recipe for cold nights ready in under 30 minutes. Keep on hand for lunches and dinners throughout the week. Serve this versatile stew over sourdough toast with a poached egg or crumble of goat cheese, as a side dish, tossed into pasta, or thinned out with vegetable stock for a cozy chickpea and kale soup recipe.
Kale salad with cranberries, made new. Kale salad is dressed with probiotic-rich, zippy cranberry kombucha vinaigrette, a popular fermented tonic that can be found at most major grocery stores (even Costco now carries it). The salad keeps well, even dressed for most of the week. Enjoy it throughout the year, supplementing the salad’s produce add-in with what’s in-season (apple and cheddar kale salad, pear and blue cheese kale salad, dried cranberry and pecan kale salad, etc.). There’s plenty of character in this charmer as a side dish, but you can make it a meal by adding a cupful of cooked quinoa and chickpeas, or top it off with a cooked protein of your choice.
Why not whip up my Salted Brown Butter Black Bean Brownie recipe to enjoy post-kale salad?