Advice from a magical kitchen to yours.
Every week, the Kitchen Witch answers your culinary questions with an eye towards seasonal, sustainable cooking. Ask your question by email email@example.com or on Twitter @ECkitchenwitch.
Dear Kitchen Witch,
My kale plants are unkillable. Every plant is over five feet tall and producing double handfuls of new leaves every week, and we’re really tired of sauteed kale, kale salad with apples and dates, and garlic kale. Do you have suggestions for using up more kale? Or a spell to kill off the plants?
—What the Kale
DearWhat the Kale,
I’m guessing from your question you live in a warmish place, as I do (I have my own garden full of kale right now), so we should consider ourselves lucky to face the dilemma of the very early spring garden, when you are so tired of the greens and roots that are still growing but nothing else has ripened yet. Hang in there; asparagus is coming. Meanwhile, I’m happy to help use up some kale.
For starters, I’d consider changing up your cooking method. My favorite thing to do with the green one friend of mine delicately calls nature’s broom—and the method that has made my children actively ask for kale for dinner—is to cut it into ribbons, douse with a little olive oil and salt (a seasoned or chile salt is great here too, as is chopped preserved lemon), and blast the leaves in a very hot oven (say 450ºF) for five or ten minutes. It’s like kale chips, but able to go in a bowl and be a side dish and also not quite so crumbly all over your clothes and kitchen when you eat it (is that just me?). As a side benefit, this method reduces the sheer amount of kale it looks like you are making everyone eat. Don’t overcrowd the sheet pan too much (sometimes I use two) for crispiest results. This roasted kale can be tossed with ribbons of pasta and blobs of fresh ricotta, or used as the bed for a sheet pan supper with coins of precooked sausages, or piled on toast and topped with a poached egg for breakfast or a fancy breakfast-for-dinner vibe, or just eaten straight off the pan, which my children do. (They won’t eat fruit, though. Win some, lose some.)
Second idea: soup. (If you’re noticing that my strategy includes cooking the kale in a way that makes it wilt down, well, busted.) I like a fast kale and white bean soup (here’s one recipe, but it’s endlessly variable), with lots of grated parmesan and black pepper, but caldo verde, minestrone, or any other greens-beans-based soup is going to be good with kale. You can double up on the kale in minestrone or other Italian soups by topping them (or pasta, or a sandwich, or whatever you like) with kale pesto—which you can also make in huge batches and freeze for future, less-kale-rich days.
Third strategy: add bacon. (Note, this works for almost any vegetable you’re sick of.)
For fast and healthy main dishes, try sautéing the kale to cook it down (there I go again) and top it with fish or any other protein you like.
Finally, hang in there: spring is coming and with it a whole new round of vegetables.