Chow Town

Five kale recipes that are just as good for you as they taste

The Jackknife sandwich at the Char Bar features a Kale-Pecorino Slaw side item. The restaurant is at the north end of 4050 Pennsylvania Avenue in Westport.
The Jackknife sandwich at the Char Bar features a Kale-Pecorino Slaw side item. The restaurant is at the north end of 4050 Pennsylvania Avenue in Westport.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who falls short of healthy eating goals. This spring, I particularly struggled to find creative, healthy recipes, and I ate a standard sandwich and apple for lunch nearly every day instead.

Luckily, I stumbled upon one great kale recipe that changed the way I thought about healthy lunches (I’m not going to lie, another huge motivation to eat kale was seeing Beyoncé wearing a “KALE” sweatshirt in her “7/11” music video). I found a recipe for kale, carrot and chickpea soup on the back on a frozen kale package that made me forget how bitter kale can be when it’s consumed raw. This one recipe showed me the many possibilities of cooking with kale. You can always have it in a salad, but it is also delicious hidden in a soup, smoothie or omelette.

As this rainy summer of ours continues, there is no better time than now to buy widely-available kale at area organic grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Kale is known for being rich in vitamins and antioxidants that help fight aging and disease. Here’s a round-up of kale recipes to try starting with a soup recipe from Jennifer’s Kitchen that is very similar to the recipe I tried and loved this spring.

Kale, Carrot, and Chickpea Soup

1 medium yellow onion, diced

7 medium raw carrots, sliced thin or diced small

4 stalks celery, diced

3 tablespoons olive oil

7 cups chopped kale

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups water, stock, or broth

2 tablespoons onion powder or granulated onion

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes – optional

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic

3 cups cooked chickpeas or garbanzo beans

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Prepare vegetables in vegetable chopper or similar device. In a large soup pot, sauté onion, carrot, and celery in oil over medium (not high) heat until onion begins to turn translucent. Add greens and sauté until greens are tender. Stir often to prevent vegetables from sticking. Add garlic and sauté for one additional minute. Add water (or stock or broth) and seasonings and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender. Gently stir in chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and add salt to taste. Serve hot.

Kale and ham omelette

Once I discovered how much I liked the taste of cooked kale, I realized how easy it is to incorporate the super food into meals I already eat on a regular basis. I like to make scrambled eggs or omelettes mixed with kale to start my mornings off with a great energy boost. This kale and ham omelette recipe from Snapguide will keep you feeling full all morning.

2-3 kale leaves

2-3 slices of ham

A handful of cheese (whichever you prefer)

1 Tablespoon Olive oil

½ Teaspoons Oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Teaspoons Large eggs

Warm the olive oil in a fry pan. Cook the kale on a medium heat for about 3 minutes (depending on how crunchy you like it). Chop or grate cheese. Add as much as you like. Slice up your ham. Whisk eggs with salt, pepper, and oregano. Pour the egg mixture onto the kale, stir a little, then add the cheese and ham. Cook until the egg starts to solidify and you can slide the omelet around in the pan. Don't let the eggs brown. Fold in half and eat it.

Kale, Strawberry, Pineapple, Protein Smoothie

One of the best gifts I have ever received is a wonderful contraption called the Magic Bullet blender. The Magic Bullet is essentially a blender and serving container in one. You fill a special cup up with your recipe contents and attach a lid that doubles as a blade to the blender. Within 20 seconds, you have a single serving sized smoothie. With the help of this seriously amazing invention, I am able to make breakfast on-the-go in seconds. I have gotten into the habit of blending Greek yogurt, milk and fruit together for breakfast. I also often blend in kale for a hidden boost of nutrition. I’ve tried a lot of variations of this mixture, but I especially can’t wait to try this strawberry, pineapple, kale and protein smoothie from 2 Sisters Recipes.

3 strawberries

3 chunks of fresh pineapple

1/2 of a small banana

1 cup packed fresh clean kale, stems removed

1 cup almond milk, original flavor

1 scoop protein powder

A few ice cubes

Blend all ingredients in a blender for 3 minutes on the highest speed. Pour into a tall glass and serve.

Roasted squash and kale salad

Squash is great mixed with most foods, so when I saw this recipe from Health Magazine that included squash, kale and, hold the phone, peanut butter, I was very intrigued. The recipe sounds a bit strange at first, but it offers a fun twist on a typical salad.

1 butternut squash

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon pepper

1 pound kale, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled and julienned

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 teaspoons fresh ginger

1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel, seed, and cut butternut squash into 1-inch chunks. Toss with olive oil, brown sugar, salt, and pepper; bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven; cool. Toss with kale, cucumber, and red onion. In a blender, purée low-sodium soy sauce, fresh lime juice, sesame oil, sugar, creamy peanut butter, fresh ginger, and water. Drizzle salad with dressing and serve.

Kale pesto pasta with toasted walnuts

It seems like you can make pesto out of just about anything green, and kale is no exception. This recipe for kale pesto pasta with toasted walnuts promises to pack your brain with good-for-you Omega-3s which help fight depression. Now that’s the definition of brain food!

2 cups packed torn kale leaves, stems removed

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup toasted walnuts

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a food processor, combine the kale leaves, basil leaves, and salt. Pulse 10 to 12 times, until the kale leaves are finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Scrape down the sides of the processor. Add the walnuts and garlic and process again, then add the cheese and pulse to combine. Toss with your favorite pasta and serve immediately.

This round-up is foremost a guide for using kale at home. But, if you’re new to the leafy green, you might also try Char Bar in Westport for an introduction to the food. The restaurant serves up the vegetable in a kale-pecorino slaw that I can’t wait to try.