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How to cook kale

Lynn Wright / 04 April 2015

Looking for a great way to boost your immune system? Leafy green kale is packed with nutrients, is easy to cook and works well in a variety of dishes.

Cooked kale
Kale is quick, healthy and can be used in a variey of recipes

In terms of health benefits, kale packs a whopping nutritional punch. It’s a fantastic source of vitamins A, C, and K, and minerals such as iron, potassium and calcium. Kale is full of dietary fibre and contains potent cancer fighting compounds.

A member of the brassica family of vegetables, which includes cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, kale has a cabbage-like taste. Often known as curly kale, it is deep green in colour and has long, frilly leaves around a tough centre stalk.

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Kale is an easy vegetable to grow or you can find it in most supermarkets, usually pre-washed and prepared for cooking.

Highly versatile, kale works well in a wide range of dishes. Young, tender kale can be eaten raw in a salad or blended into a smoothie but most kale benefits from cooking as this make it easier to digest.

It’s delicious steamed, sautéed, baked, or added to stir-fries, soups or stews. It’s the perfect partner for pasta, for example penne with kale, roast onions and gorgonzola. You can even bake it in the oven to create healthy kale crisps to snack on.

Try these delicious recipes for kale

How to prepare kale

To prepare kale, wash it thoroughly in cold water to remove any dirt that’s hidden in the curly leaves. Although the thick stem is edible, it takes longer to cook than the leaves so it’s best remove this. Use a knife to carefully cut the stem from each leaf. You can then shred the leaves, and finely chop the stems if using, or cook the leaves whole depending on your recipe.

How to cook kale

To steam kale:

Place the kale in a steamer basket over a saucepan with a little boiling water, cover and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

To boil kale:

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the kale, making sure it’s fully submerged. Turn the heat down to medium, cover the saucepan and let the kale cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until wilted. Drain the kale.

To stir-fry kale:

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok or large frying pan, and then add the kale. Stir the kale in the oil for a minute, then add a tablespoon or two of water. Stir-fry the kale for 5 to 7 minutes. The kale should be tender but still a vivid green. Add a splash of soy sauce or toasted sesame oil and season with salt and pepper before serving.

Find out about the health benefits of kale

Add flavour to kale

Kale tastes delicious on its own with a just little seasoning, but it works fantastically well with other flavours and ingredients. Try adding garlic and chili when stir-frying kale, or serve it with butternut squash, pork, smoked bacon or chorizo. Like spinach, kale tastes great with a creamy white or cheese sauce.

Nutritional benefits of kale

Kale is full of healthy vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and K. Kale is also high in antioxidants that have anti-cancer properties, and its high level of vitamin K is believed to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. It's also a great dairy-free source of calcium, with 100mg of calcium in an 80g portion. 

With all those healthy nutrients and just 33 calories per 100g when raw, or 19 calories per 100g when steamed, it's no wonder kale has become such a popular superfood.

Find out about the health benefits of kale

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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