Chef's Secret: How to Use Kale in Your Kitchen

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Chef's Secret: How to Use Kale in Your Kitchen

April 16, 2015

Kale is a super food that should be on every home cook's menu. Most markets sell it year-round and it's especially abundant in the spring. Kale also provides cholesterol-lowering benefits when steamed. Try my recipe next time you're looking to add a healthy component to your meal.

Sesame Kale Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds kale, washed, tough ribs removed
  • Ice (e.g., one standard tray of ice cubes)
  • 1/4 cup toasted white sesame seeds (or buy raw sesame seeds and toast them yourself)
  • 3 tablespoons Mirin (a sweet Japanese rice wine found in many supermarkets or Asian groceries)
  • 2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice (about half of one small lime)
  • 1/8 cup fresh chopped ginger

Equipment

  • Large pot
  • Two large bowls
  • Kitchen utensils: measuring spoons and cups, tongs, and knife
  • Cutting board
  • Food processor or mortar and pestle

Prepare Ahead

  1. Heat a large pot filled with unsalted water on your stove for "blanching" the kale. Blanching is a quick, easy way to steam and cook any greens.
  2. Set out all your ingredients and equipment on a counter or table. Divide kale into two piles.
  3. Make an ice bath—a large bowl of water filled with ice cubes. You'll cool the blanched kale in the ice bath later.

Cooking Steps

  1. When the stovetop water comes to a gentle boil, drop the first pile or batch of kale leaves in the pot and blanch for 1-2 minutes until tender and vibrant green. The age, size, and heartiness of your kale will determine how long you cook the leaves. After one minute, use tongs to carefully pull out a leaf, run it under cool water, and taste it for doneness. When done, remove the kale from the hot water.
  2. Using tongs, place your first batch of cooked kale into the ice bath to "shock" it. Shocking stops the leaves from cooking.
  3. Now repeat steps 1 and 2 with the second batch of kale.
  4. When both batches of kale are cooling in the ice bath, make your dressing. Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, blend all other ingredients. It's easier to achieve a creamy consistency with a food processor. Pour the dressing into a large bowl.
  5. When the kale has cooled to room temperature, take half of it out of the ice bath and squeeze the leaves together between your hands to remove excess liquid. Cooked leaves will stick together in a log-shaped clump after squeezing them. Place the roll of kale on a cutting board, slice it into 1/2-inch wide strips, and transfer the chopped leaves to the bowl that holds your dressing.
  6. Toss greens and dressing with your hands to fully coat the leaves with all that toasted sesame goodness.

NOTE: If you have a garden, save your blanching water. Let it cool, then use that nutrient-rich liquid to water your plants.