Kale looks like just another leafy green, but this fiber-rich vegetable from the cabbage family lends itself well to a variety of cooking methods. Kale also packs high amounts of vitamins A, C and K within its wavy leaves. Many greens shrink significantly when cooked, but kale maintains most of its volume, shape and chewy texture even after cooking.
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Braised kale cooked with a small amount of chicken broth in a pot makes a flavorful side dish. Start by cooking two cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion in 2 tbsp. of heated olive oil. After one minute, add 1 cup of chicken broth and 2 lbs. of kale that is chopped with the stems removed. Cover the pan and cook the kale for five minutes or until it is tender. Continue cooking the kale uncovered for about three to five minutes to allow the chicken broth to evaporate completely.
Baking kale creates crisp edges on the leaves. Remove the tough stems of the kale leaves before cooking. Chop the remaining leaves into smaller pieces about 2 inches across. For each bunch of kale used, stir in 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Add other desired seasonings, such as garlic, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. The prepared kale goes onto a baking sheet and into an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir and flip the kale pieces every five minutes so the leaves brown evenly. The total baking time is between 15 and 20 minutes. The kale should be tender with crispy, browned edges when it is done.
This method cooks the kale using steam created from a small amount of water in the pan. A steaming basket makes steaming a simple process. The metal basket goes inside a pot to raise the kale just enough so it isn't submerged. The water goes in the pan just up to the basket, while the kale goes inside the basket. When the kale is soft, add a splash of fresh-squeezed citrus juice or olive oil. Another option is to stir in other steamed vegetables just before serving.
Kale works well in a stir-fry because it holds it shape well and doesn't get mushy as it cooks. Stir-fry the kale by itself or with other vegetables. You'll need about 2 tsp. of oil in a hot pan. Add bite-sized pieces of kale to the pan, and stir frequently. The kale will soften as it cooks and begin to brown slightly. Add soy sauce or a stir-fry sauce to flavor the kale.