Like cupcakes, salted caramel, and quinoa, kale was once a trendy craze that has since turned into a everyday ingredient. However, when anything goes from being en vogue to mainstream, it runs the risk of becoming boring. Kale Caesar salads and kale chips are as ubiquitous as Starbucks, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop eating this hearty and healthy green. You just need to learn how to think about kale differently. Instead of tossing it with croutons and an anchovy-laced vinaigrette, why not mix it with Asian-inspired ingredients and creamy coconut dressing? Instead of throwing the kale that’s almost wilted into a vegetable soup, why not use it to make pesto? To inspire you to think outside of the box when it comes to kale, here are 14 unusual and fabulous ways to cook with it.
Kale Potato Soup With Bacon
The classic leek and potato soup gets a green makeover thanks to the addition of leafy kale. Although the recipe says to puree the soup in a blender, it’s much easier to do with an immersion blender. Simply stick the handheld gadget into the soup and puree.
Everything tastes amazing in gratin form—even kale! This easy recipe combines three cups of cream with the bitter green. It’s topped off with sharp cheddar cheese making it a gooey and delicious side dish perfect for roast chicken.
Thai Kale Salad
Crunchy green beans and colorful carrots are combined with kale to make an inspired salad. The secret ingredient in the vegan dressing? Salted cashew butter. To make this salad a meal, add sliced flank steak or boneless skinless chicken.
Pesto is such a sensational sauce. I think of it as a formula: greens + nuts + cheese + garlic + olive oil = pesto. You can use any combination of greens, nuts, or cheese and end up with a scrumptious spread. Or you can omit the cheese as this recipe does to make the pesto vegan. Kale is the green and almonds are the nut. If the pesto tastes too bitter, warm it in a sauté pan to mellow out the flavor.
Oven Risotto With Tuscan Kale
Once you’ve mastered making kale pesto, use it to make a lovely risotto. Instead of standing over the risotto stirring for a half an hour like an Italian grandmother, this recipe has you cook it in the oven. Genius!
Garlicky Kale Pizza
A great way to get kids to eat more greens? Put them on pizza underneath the cheese. Instead of using tomato sauce as the base, put a layer of sauteed kale down on top of the dough. Cover with a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and chicken cubes, then bake. Enjoy with a side of carrot sticks and ranch dressing.
Kale and Roasted Beet Salad
Here’s a fresh take on kale salad: combine torn kale leaves with roasted leeks, tender beets, and green lentils. The dressing? A tahini lemon maple vinaigrette. Eat alone for lunch or with roast salmon at dinner.
Korean Barbecue Sandwich With Kale Slaw
Tempeh is an awesome vegan ingredient that is similar to tofu, but with different textural qualities. When marinated with the same ingredients one would use for traditional Korean barbecue beef (tamari, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic), the tempeh takes on incredible flavor. Layered into a healthful sandwich with wheat bread, avocado, and kale, the tempeh will satisfy even the most discerning of carnivores.
Sausage and Kale Naan
I love to buy bags of chopped kale from Trader Joe’s and then toss a handful of it onto everything—including naan bread. The sausage in this recipe isn’t pork, but turkey that is seasoned with crushed red pepper, fennel seeds, and paprika to mimic the flavor of a traditional Italian pork sausage.
White Beans With Farro, Kale, and Tomatoes
Kale pairs well with beans as proved by this super easy recipe that is made in a rice cooker. It uses several pantry ingredients: broth, canned white beans, farro, and tomato sauce. The kale freshens the one pot meal. If you don’t have asiago cheese, substitute another hard flavorful cheese like parmesan or white cheddar.
Baked Parmesan Kale Puffs
If I had written this recipe, I wouldn’t have called these baked parmesan kale puff, I would have called them kale meatballs because that is what they look like! Kale is combined with salted onion, bread crumbs, pesto, parmesan cheese, and eggs—which help with binding the ingredients. Use a food processor to finely chop the kale before making these delightful balls. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
Kale and White Bean Artichoke Dip
Kale often takes the place of spinach and that’s the case with this artichoke dip recipe. Unlike some artichoke dip recipes, this one is vegan. You’ll need to purchase some specialty ingredients like vegan cream cheese and nutritional yeast, but if you’re having vegan friends over, it’s worth it to invest in these items.
Falafel Kale Salad Sandwich
This recipe takes the kale Caesar salad and uses it to make a tasty sandwich. If you’ve never made falafel at home before, I highly recommend it. The homemade version is much healthier than what you’ll get out and it’s easy to make with the help of a food processor.
Kale BLT Salad
I’ve been making and eating BLT salads since I started cooking over 12 years ago. To give it a modern twist, I’ve been using kale instead of romaine lettuce. The tangy homemade dressing is crucial to the success of the salad. Although this recipe doesn’t call for croutons, I like to toss some in for extra crunch.
What are your favorite ways to cook with kale?