What’s So Funny About Kale?
Dark leafy greens are in need of a public relations campaign. Kale, the poster child for leafy greens, has become a source of jokes all over social media.
We’re all just pretending to like kale, right?
Leafy greens deserve to have your respect and a place on your plate. Beyond the often maligned kale, dark leafy greens can also include, bok choy, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, mustard, turnip and beet greens, just to name a few. Not only are these hardy greens economical and versatile, they are a rich source of fiber and vitamin-packed.
The challenge for many of us, is not knowing how to prepare dark leafy greens. Many greens taste bitter when they are improperly prepared and others become mushy when they are overcooked. Leafy greens can be delicious, but if you are just learning how to cook with them, there are a few helpful tricks that you should know.
Tips for Cooking with Dark Leafy Greens
- Experiment with different types. Take a chance, buy a bunch of whatever greens look good and experiment with new ways to prepare them. You don’t need to know the difference between Dinosaur and curly kale to enjoy greens—they can be interchangeable in most recipes. Try different types of dark, leafy greens – Stir-fried Bok Choy and Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad are fun recipes to try. Eventually you will discover your favorite greens and begin to eat them more often.
- Prepare the leaves. The tough leaves of most greens can hold a lot of sand and grit. Grip the base of the stem and rub each leaf under running water to wash away the dirt. Strip away the thick stems from the leaves and save them for another use.
- Cook the bitter flavors away. You can remove the bitter taste by briefly blanching the greens. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then drop the leaves in the hot water for 1-2 minutes. The leaves will soften and become bright green, then dunk them in a bowl of ice water (or cool them off under cold running water) to stop the cooking process.
- Add some flavor to your greens. Flavorful ingredients like vinegar, onion and garlic make great additions to cooked greens. A shake of Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of red pepper flakes or a sprinkle of grated ginger can give your greens a whole new taste.
- Put them everywhere. Braise the greens with a little onion and olive oil, and then use them as a bed for your chicken or fish entrée. Throw chopped greens into soup during the last part of cooking. Insert a layer of steamed greens into your lasagna, add it to casseroles or use it as a pizza topping. There is no end to the places your greens can go!
It’s time to stop making fun of kale and start discovering the amazing potential of leafy greens in your diet.