Using the Right Kind of Kale for the Right Recipe

The Kale explosion continues! I am seeing recipes on a daily basis all over the blogosphere and often they don’t direct what type of kale to use. Until recently, the only type of kale I was familiar with was the one I didn’t pay much attention to that I often saw at the grocery store. Then I discovered a local CSA had a farm stand just a few doors down from me once a week! I bought a share (meaning I pay a set price to receive a share of all the crops weekly) and am now trying all sorts of new veggies, including various types of kale. 

At the grocery store, you typically see curly green kale (just called “curly kale”) and sometimes curly purple/red kale (usually just called “purple kale” although I have also seen it referred to as “red kale”). There is also the beautiful dinosaur (also called lacinato or Tuscan kale)  kale which is the hardest to find and my favourite. My lovely CSA farmer explained to me one day that they all have their best uses – here is a rundown for you.

types of kale infograph

types of kale infograph

Curly Kale

  • beautiful shiny green leaves, a little less hearty than purple kale
  • BEST FOR: cooked kale dishes, smoothies, and as a backup for salads or chips when you can’t find the other two kinds of kale

Purple Kale

  • hearty, curly, and fibrous 
  • BEST FOR: kale chips (recipe coming soon!)

Dinosaur Kale

  • smooth, tender, long leaves (not curly)
  • BEST FOR: raw uses like salads (check out this “kale hater`s“ salad!) Try making a caesar salad with half romaine, half dinosaur kale – delicious! Can also be used in cooked dishes and for smoothies. 
Storage Tips:

Tear leaves off stems, wash and dry well in a salad spinner, then store in an airtight jar. It will last up to two weeks this way! Alternatively you can also just throw it in a bag in the fridge, and if it is a little wilted when you get to it, refresh it like you would a bouquet of flowers by cutting a bit off the bottom of the stems and placing in cold water on the counter for half an hour (then eat it -don`t restore after the revival). 

My favourite thing about kale (other than it being a nutritional powerhouse) is how you can store leftover salads… even after they are dressed. In particular, creamy dressings are even better the next day. 

Preparation Tips:

Kale must be massaged during preparation for raw uses (like salads). This sounds strange but is so easy and quick – after tearing the leaves off the stems and washing in a salad spinner, place in your salad bowl and sprinkle with a touch of salt and oil (or some of your dressing) and rub/scrunch it into the leaves 5-10 times or until it begins to wilt. This rubs off the natural waxy coating on the kale, avoiding any roughness on your mouth. Dinosaur kale benefits from massaging but does not really have the same waxy coating as curly types of kale, so it is not as essential. 

Dissapointed that you can’t find anything other than curly kale locally? Grow your own kale next summer (it is a very hearty plant) or even indoors this winter!