By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

People at the grocery store tend to ask me if I know what to do with kale. This has happened at least three times as I’m selecting a bunch for myself. Obviously no one is chasing me down in the gluten-free aisle with this question.

Why me? Sadly, I think I look especially at home in the greens in my sloggers and un-ironed hair. I’m probably sending off cues I don’t even realize that suggest I’ve done hard time with a pressure cooker and know my way around a salad spinner.

As we chat over the kale, I tell people that this power food is great roasted and that’s a great place to start. Just wash, coat the de-stemmed leaves with olive oil and bake at 325 or 350 degrees until the kale is dry and toasty, I enthuse, rapidly firing off instructions and affecting a benevolent Martha Stewart smile.

But there’s so much more to do with this Vitamin A-, C- and K-rich leafy green. (K for kale!) Here are 8 things to do with kale:


Kale Pepita Salad

6 cups of kale, chopped

¼ cup of rice wine vinegar

½ cup of orange juice

½ cup of organic canola or grapeseed oil (or slightly less)

¼ cup of crystallized ginger (comes in little pieces)

½ to 1 cup of dried cranberries (we soak them in the OJ for a bit first, when we remember)

½ to 1 cup of pepitas

½ cup of slivered almonds

Clean and chop the kale and set aside in a large bowl.

Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, orange juice and oil. Coat the kale with this dressing. Toss in the dried cranberries, pepitas and almonds, using more or less depending on your tastes. Chill for a few hours to blend flavors. Salad should keep for two days.

(This recipe was inspired by a kale salad sold at Central Market, which we can ill afford.)


Mushroom Kale Kugel

1 16 oz. package of gemelli noodles

2 TBSP butter or non-dairy butter (Earth Balance) or olive oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 pound of mushrooms, sliced

1 large bunch of kale, or slightly more, washed, de-stemmed and torn into pieces

1 TBSP fresh or dried thyme, chopped

3 eggs, beaten

1 ½ cups low fat cottage cheese

1 cup plain yogurt (full or non-fat)

Cook the noodles until they are al dente, about two minutes shy of the cooking instructions. Drain and set aside in a bowl.

Heat the butter or olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes on medium-low (you want glassy onions, not browned). Add the mushrooms, saute until for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the kale and cook just a few minutes, until it turns bright green and wilts. Toss the vegetables with the noodles.

Whisk the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream together until smooth. Salt and pepper, if desired and pour over the noodles and vegetables.

Pour the mixture into a lightly oiled baking dish or baking crock. Cover and bake for 30 minutes at 350.

Uncover and cook for 10 more minutes to brown the top.

Tips: Be sure to dice the onions to within an inch of their life. The onion is meant to add nuance, not overwhelm.

This recipe could go vegan if you wanted to use a vegan yogurt and substitute Tofutti sour cream for the cottage cheese. The eggs could be replaced with egg replacer (funny how that works).


Roasted Kale

1 bunch of organic kale (look, you’re going to eat this whole batch, possibly on your own, so go organic)

Rinse, stem and tear the kale into palm-sized pieces. Pat it dry and place it in a bowl. Drizzle 1 – 1 ½ TBSPS of olive oil over the leaves. Stir or scrunch the leaves to evenly coat the kale. Spread it on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 or 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes. (You may have to experiment with the times, depending on how crispiness you like.)


Kale Casserole

1 Butternut squash, cubed

2 to 3 links of Tofurky Italian “sausage” links, sliced

1 bunch of kale

1 package of rigatoni or spiral noodles

1 cup of cream or half-and-half

1 cup of “No Chicken” broth

2 cups of Mozzarella cheese, shredded

½ cup goat cheese, crumbled

1 cup cubed plain or garlic croutons

Olive oil as needed

Roast the squash in olive oil on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Set aside.

Cook the rigatoni or spiral noodles according to package directions but for 2-3 minutes less so the noodles are al dente. Drain, rinse in cool water to stop cooking and set aside in a large bowl.

Slice the vegan sausage links in thin slices, saute in olive oil in a saucepan until lightly browned. Add the kale and cook until it is wilted, 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the broth and cream together in a sauce pan and warm.

Toss all the squash, sausage, kale and croutons together with the pasta in the large bowl.

Mix in most of the mozzarella and goat cheese, reserve about ½ cup of the mozzarella.

Put the pasta mixture into a baking crock or large covered casserole cooker. Pour the cream sauce over the pasta. Toss. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or a bit more. You want the top to be slightly browned. (You can also cover this dish for part of the baking time, and uncover at the end to brown the top.)

Tip: For an extra crunchy crouton you can pour a TBSP of melted Earth Balance over the croutons before adding them to the rest of the casserole. Yes, this adds calories.
(This vegetarian recipe was inspired by a meat-inclusive one at You can go there and buy a t-shirt to express your love of kale.)


Kale Squash Quesadillas

½ Butternut squash, cubed

2 TBSPs olive oil

½ cup diced onion

½ tsp. chili powder

1 bunch of kale, stemmed and torn into pieces

8 – 10 small flour tortillas

2 cups Monterrey jack or cheddar cheese

Sour Cream


(Other possible adds: Sauteed mushrooms, shredded chicken, shredded vegan “chik’n”, black beans.)

Saute the squash and onion in olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet until both are soft and lightly browned. Sprinkle with chili powder.

Saute the kale in a skillet in olive oil, until it’s wilted.

Toss the kale and squash and onions together and arrange on a tortilla in an oil frying pan or quesadilla maker. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Cover with another tortilla. Close the lid, or if using a frying pan, lightly brown the tortilla on both sides and press the quesadilla together. Cut into quarters and serve with pico de gallo or avocado.



Kale Power Juice

1 Granny Smith apple

1 cucumber

5-6 large leaves of kale

1 lemon, peeled and cut into quarters

½ piece of ginger, optional

1 celery stalk, optional

Get out your juicer and juice all ingredients, alternating apple, cuke, kale and lemon. Serve with a sprig of fresh mint. Mix this up in the morning and you’ve covered your vitamins for the day!


Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup

2 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP minced garlic, fresh (or cheat and get it from a jar)

1 medium onion, diced

1 box of No Chicken Broth

4-5 cups of kale, stemmed and chopped

1 can of diced tomatoes

2 cans of cannellini beans, drained

1 yellow crook neck squash, sliced and quartered

1 zucchini, sliced and quartered

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft in a large saucepan, dutch oven or iron crock suitable for use on the stove top. Add the broth, tomatoes and kale to the onions. Heat to just bubbling. Lower heat and add the squash/zucchini. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes on low until the kale and zucchini appear cooked. Add the beans, cook for a few more minutes to heat through. Serve with cornbread or pita bread.

This is a classic combination, warming in the winter, but light enough for summer. This recipe’s also vegan, made with the No Chicken Broth.


Sauteed Kale

1 bunch of kale

1 TBSP garlic

1 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP water

Salt and Pepper to taste

Rinse, stem and slice kale into several pieces. There’s no need to chop it excessively. Saute the garlic in the olive oil and water, or if you want to go oil free, heat it in 2 TBSPs water, for a few minutes over low heat. Add the kale and stir and wet the kale until it has wilted. This makes a simple, nutrient-dense side dish that can be thrown together faster than you can repeat what Google has to say about this awesome veggie: “One cup of cooked kale has 206% of [the recommended daily allowance of] vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K.”