Superfood Kale

Thursday, March 3, 2011
Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad

Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad

Kale is insanely good for you. It’s packed with Vitamins A & C, and is also rich in beta carotene, potassium, calcium, and phytonutrients that are believed to help fight cancer and repair cells. Kale is like the Hulk of cruciferous vegetables, bulging with nutrients and antioxidant properties.

kale nutritional info

Serving Size 1 cup, chopped (67 g). Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. (Source: Peer Trainer)

But with all healthy foods, comes the question of taste. It may be a superfood uber-veggie, but if it doesn’t taste good, I’m not gonna eat it. (I’m a grown up so I’m allowed to say that). Kale newbies may be dubious, but with the right preparation and wise selection of the type of kale to best fit the dish, this healthy, versatile veggie will become a staple in your diet before you know it.

Curly Scots Kale

Curly Scots Kale

I most often see two different types of kale at the market. Curly Scots kale and Tuscan kale (also called cavolo nero, black cabbage, lacinato, or dinosaur kale). Curly kale has a hearty texture and a brassy minerality to it. This type of kale lends itself well to wintry soups, stews, even pasta dishes. Either way, it’s best cooked to soften the bite a bit.

Tuscan kale

Tuscan kale (Photo credit: Tuscan kale by Greg Henry, SippitySup)

For raw preparations, like salads, or a simple sauté, I much prefer Tuscan kale. I tried making a version of Caesar Salad using both varieties and found that the curly kale was tough to eat raw (like eating raw broccoli), while the Tuscan kale’s texture was much more amenable and still held up well under dressing.

Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad

Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad

Lately I’ve been obsessed with this Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad. Adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, I replace pecorino with parmigiano, and add salty, briny anchovies to create a Caesar dressing. I’m a big proponent of chopping my salads, and this one is no exception. Here, I chiffonade big leafy bunches of kale into a pile of ribbons before tossing them in my thick, creamy dressing. Greg from SippitySup makes a very similar riff on this recipe too.

Kale isn’t limited to raw preparations, although there is a lot you can do with it on the salad-front (like this Japanese-inspired Kale and Avocado Salad with a soy sauce and citrus dressing). The versatility of this superfood is astounding. You can stir it into mashed potatoes, blend it into a pasta sauce, simmer it into a hearty soup, make oven-baked chips out of it, you can even pulverize said baked chips and sprinkle it over popcorn! Here are some of my favorite kale inspirations:

Kale with raisins and pine nuts

Kale with Raisins & Pine Nuts (Photo credit: Marc Matsumoto, No Recipes)

Sauteed Kale with Raisins & Pine Nuts, for a sweet, nutty, side dish.

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes (Photo credit: Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks)

Our super green makes even mashed potatoes seem virtuous in this Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes.

Winter Pasta kale

Winter Pasta (Photo credit: Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks)

This recipe for Winter Pasta turns pureed kale into a sauce. This pasta dish would be great hot or cold.

Kale Chips

Kale Chips

Kale Chips make a great crispy snack. Experiment with different seasonings for variety (Old Bay, parmesan, cayenne, vinegar). In fact, the dressing from the Kale Caesar Salad gave my kale chips good cheesy, salty flavor. Just toss the kale in the dressing before baking.

Kale-Dusted Popcorn

Kale-Dusted Popcorn (Photo credit: Deb Perelman, Smitten Kitchen)

And finally, my favorite way of getting in veggies. No one will suspect healthy vitamins hiding out in a big bowl of Kale-Dusted Popcorn.

Kale Caesar Salad

Fresh, cruciferous ribbons of green coated in salty, garlicky, lemony dressing. This raw Tuscan Kale salad is astonishingly addictive.

Adapted from the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Chiles and Pecorino recipe in Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite.

1 bunch Tuscan kale (also called cavolo nero, black cabbage, lacinato, or dinosaur kale)

For the dressing: (Makes 1 cup)
2-oz flat fillets of anchovies packed in olive oil
1 garlic clove
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup grated parmigiano cheese
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice & zest of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Rinse the kale thoroughly and shake dry. Trim the bottom few inches of the kale stems and discard. Roll the leaves up lengthwise and chiffonade them so that you get thin ribbons. Place in a large bowl.
  2. Using a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients for the dressing except the olive oil. Blend until everything is combined. While the food processor/blender is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
  3. Toss the kale with as much dressing as you’d like (this recipe makes more than enough – I like to keep extra in the fridge). Let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Note: This salad is great for parties because it gets better as the leaves absorb the dressing. Unlike more delicate greens, the kale stands up well and won’t get all wilty on you.

Print Recipe

This post was originally published on KQED’s Bay Area Bites on February 16, 2011.

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Posted by Stephanie at 11:16 am

30 Responses to “Superfood Kale”

  1. Jean says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve served kale at home and admittedly, my preparations have been limited to soups and a simple sauté.  I like all the creative options you’ve shared here, especially the caesar salad and the pasta and I’ve been dying to try kale chips forever. All yum!

    • Stephanie says:

      Thanks, Jean!  I’ve become addicted to Tuscan Kale salad, although, sadly, it’s been harder to find than the curly kale.  the curly kale is working out well for the chips though — i just toss it in the caesar dressing before baking and it’s delish!  enjoy :)

  2. Thanks for sharing all of this kale info. Had no idea there were so many types of kale, so that’s great to know. And the recipes are spot on. The popcorn looks like a fun snack!

    • Stephanie says:

      thanks! this will be good to add to your stockpile of healthy recipes, which i’m sure has grown significantly by now! how’s the vegan experiment going? are you still doing it?!

  3. sippitysup says:

    This salad deserves a lot of attention. GREG

  4. nina says:

    Lovely post, my favorite has to be the mash, but I am entrigued by all the recipes with kale!

  5. Still learning about kale and new ways to cook it. I really enjoy it in stews so far, so I’ll have to try this salad!

  6. Kale is really good for you!! Kale chips are a great way to go. I like my Christmas Kale – colors are gorgeous as well as tasty. =)

  7. I love kale! My favorite has been just raw kale “massaged” in olive oil and vinegar, but I like the idea to use it in a Caesar salad. Yum! Thanks for all the ideas. :)

  8. I have become obsessed with Kale since I eliminated meat and dairy from my diet a year ago.  I actually crave it now.  Thanks for the new ideas!

  9. I am among those dubious kale eaters, even though I’ve had it prepared well in the past. The Winter Pasta looks wonderful, but somehow every other version just looks too healthy to be good. If only my mind didn’t automatically say ubber healthy = bad. Ahhh, maybe I’ll have to give it a go.

    • Stephanie says:

      haha have no fear, mikaela! if you are new to kale, make sure you get the TUSCAN kale. It’s texture is easier to handle…like firm spinach. And don’t worry, the dressing is so good that you wont’ even know you’re eating healthy veggies :)

  10. Well, that settles it, I’m going to have to try Tuscan Kale. I keep hearing about how great it is but have never tried it. I like the fact that it’s good for raw preparations since I like to eat a lot of salads.

  11. Alison says:

    Fantastic article about kale. We love kale in our house, especially when it’s straight from my organic CSA in the summer. My kids eat roasted kale chips like they are Lays potato chips! All we do is toss, salt and bake bite size pieces in the oven and they get devoured. Thanks for visting my site! I love yours as well. :)

  12. Hi Stephanie, What a lovely collection of kale recipes! I love the lacatino kale the best, or what you call tuscan kale. My favorite way to cook it is simply wilt in bacon grease and then let it simmer a while with smashed garlic, salt and pepper in some home made chicken stock. Simply divine! I am now following your tweets! All the best, Alex

  13. Way to go on eating healthy, Stephanie!!! ^_^

  14. erinwyso says:

    Wonderful use of kale — great photography!

  15. [...] down the anchovies in a skillet, stirring them until a paste forms. My husband is obsessed with all things anchovy (and all things salty for that matter), so I’ve been buying in bulk these little tins of Italian [...]

  16. mumbi mkandawire says:

    Try sprinkling a handful of tasty, crispy Onion Crunch onto this salad, and you will have yourself a healthy low calorie meal that comes with a delicious crunch. Try it out:

  17. [...] mean kale! We’ve been on a kale kick ever since we saw the idea of Caeasar salad on Lick My Spoon. Dinosaur kale holds its own perfectly against a strong dressing of anchovies, olive oil, lemon and [...]

  18. [...] and complete amino acids you’re about to give it? I thought so.Go GreenA pesto made of basil and kale gives this quinoa salad its vibrant color. Handfuls of barely steamed broccoli florets bump up the [...]

  19. Sandra L says:

    Great recipes. I’d love to try the mashed potatoes and the pasta. I love spinach sauteed with olive oil, onions & garlic and even tossed with some mushrooms. So I guess I could make some kale the same way. :)

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