How to (Not) Cook Kale

The kale that I actually enjoyed eating.

I finally get it.  The secret to cooking kale is not to cook it.

I enjoy eating most types of greens, and I cook most of them the same way. I rinse them really well because they can often be gritty, tear off any nasty looking bits, remove any big, tough stems, cut or tear the greens into smallish pieces, and steam them in a small amount of water until they are beginning to soften but are still crunchy.  I drain the greens in a colander.  Then I spray some olive oil cooking spray into a non-stick pan, heat the pan, and sauté the greens for a few minutes.  I season them with salt and pepper, garlic, and something spicy, like chipotle.  It’s a tasty and healthy way to eat greens.

Kale, however, is one of the few greens that I don’t like, and Michelle likes it  even less than I do.  As far as I’m concerned, kale tastes like curly green cardboard, however you cook it.  It’s tough, and it doesn’t have much flavor.

As I reported in my post, Improving Black Women (and everyone else)’s Diets By Any Greens Necessary, author and nutritionist Tracye Lynn McQuirter is full of excitement about eating raw kale.  She swears that her kale salad recipe is the most popular one in her book, By Any Greens Necessary.

When I confessed to having a bad attitude about kale in last week’s post, I got a couple of comments from kale defenders about how great it is.  So I decided it was time to try McQuirter’s recipe.

The recipe is simple, but it calls for a couple of ingredients that you may not have hanging around the house, unless you are already a health nut, in which case you probably don’t need to read this blog.

The vegan equivalent of fish sauce

Unusual ingredient number one is Bragg Liquid Aminos, which is sort of the vegan version of fish sauce.  It smells like dirty underwear and tastes pretty salty. I know I just made it sound terrible, but it actually tastes like the vegan equivalent of fish sauce and it’s really good for you, so I think you should give it a try.

Unusual ingredient number two is nutritional yeast, which I haven’t eaten since the 1980s.  My housemates at the time used to sprinkle it on everything they cooked and I got sick of it. Now that I recall, nutritional yeast is actually very good sprinkled on popcorn, but I digress.

Other than kale and the two previously mentioned items, the only other ingredients in the salad are olive oil, chopped red onion, chopped garlic, and cayenne pepper.  After you mix everything up in a bowl, McQuirter recommends you marinate it at room temperature for about a half hour before serving.

Michelle and I ate the salad with our dinner last night, and, to my amazement, we enjoyed it!  Michelle even went back for a second helping. Raw kale actually has more flavor than cooked kale, and, although quite chewy, it didn’t make me think I was eating cardboard.  While the recipe called for more raw onion and garlic than I care for, the combination of the onion, garlic and cayenne gave it some bite, and the two mystery ingredients gave it a salty, almost—dare I say it—meaty flavor.

While I don’t think kale will ever become one of my top ten favorite greens, now that I’ve learned how to (not) cook it, I won’t be upset if it shows up in my CSA box again.  So thank you, Tracye Lynn McQuirter!

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