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Whatever your opinion of the kale-gone-wild movement to infuse everything with kale (like chocolate cake), there is a reason to eat more of it. Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet, delivering calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, along with tons of phytonutrients and minerals, with very few calories. Plus, even everyday home cooks will find it versatile: Kale lends itself to braising, grilling, frying, baking, juicing or salt tenderizing, and it’s good served raw. Here are 10 go-to ways to use this incredible superfood.
1. Salads. Make the world’s healthiest salad with raw, salt-kneaded kale,avocado and olives.
Or use it to replace romaine in a Caesar—the sturdy greens defy wilting under the thick dressing, making it great for a buffet table or potluck.
Toss raw leaves with fried kale as well as brussels sprouts and lots of herbs for a sensational multi-textured salad.
For a hearty side dish or vegetarian meal, blanch it and toss with grains, as in this wheat berry salad with butternut squash.
2. Grilled sides. Grill stemmed kale leaves in a perforated pan to make it smoky. For a great side dish, toss it with bacon and a lemony dressing, like star chef Adam Perry Lang does.
3. Chips. Bake kale leaves nearly naked (just tossed with olive oil, garlic and salt) for serving with a lemon-yogurt dip. Or toss the leaves with an umami-packed dressing before toasting so they become sturdier and more crispy.
4. Pizza toppings. Top whole-wheat pizza crust or focaccia with kale before firing. Or just wilt it with olive oil and garlic to serve over butternut toasts with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
5. Tamales. Cook kale with mushrooms to make an unorthodox tamale filling. The same filling is fantastic in tacos.
6. Breakfast casserole. Add kale to strata—a savory bread pudding made healthy with multigrain bread and lots of vegetables.
7. Roasted under chicken. For a homey one-pan meal, roast chicken legs on top of a bed of kale and potatoes, so the delicious meat juices season the vegetables.
8. Stuffing. Incorporate kale into a classic cornbread stuffing, such as chef and food writer David Tanis’s version with bacon.
9. Hash. Make the ultimate comfort food healthier by adding braised kale. Star chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo make a fantastic kale hash with nutty sunchokes.
10. Soups. Kale makes any soup insanely nourishing—even one made with a pancetta-and-Parmesan enriched broth.