Our favorite kale recipes! From salads to stews and from pestos to burgers, this cruciferous veggie performs beautifully in a wide range of dishes. Browse these vegan kale recipes that highlight the hardy green.
article originally published September 14, 2012
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Kale recipes that go beyond salad
Kale isn't just a salad bar decoration anymore. Kale is the salad!
The vegan kale recipes we are sharing do include a few delicious salads, and you'll be pleased to see plenty of other ways to incorporate kale into your meals.
If you love kale, you are not alone:
- I love kale so much I cowrote a cookbook called We Love Kale.
- my wedding bouquet included kale, basil, rosemary and flowers
This leafy vegetable, which is a member of the cabbage family, is in abundance during the fall and winter months, but can easily be found year round due to its popularity.
Kale's nutrient profile reads like a who's who of healthy: it has so much that we need daily. Kale is full of iron, fiber, calcium, antioxidants, and most of the alphabet of vitamins. This is a versatile green that works well in a variety of cooking settings.
Kale is tough! How to soften it
One of the biggest complaints about kale recipes is that kale is tough. The good news is there are a few ways to tenderize kale so more people find it palatable.
The most popular way to soften kale is to massage it. How do you massage kale? After removing the stems, I make a dressing (see more on dressings below) and, using my hands, coat as much of the kale as possible. I squeeze the kale for several minutes.
My favorite way to prepare kale is going a step beyond the usual massage. I like to chiffonade the leaves of kale to break them down further, making kale much easier to enjoy. Not so tough.
The other great thing about kale being so hardy and tough is that even after you've massaged the kale to wilt down a bit, kale salads last much longer than other green salads. Kale is the only salad I will make a large batch of, knowing it will still taste fresh for a couple days, if stored in the refrigerator.
How to chiffonade
The chiffonade method is easy:
- Thoroughly clean and rinse kale.
- Remove kale leaves from the stem.
- (Discard the stems, or save them for the juicer.)
- Arrange the leaves in an orderly pile.
- Tightly roll from one end to the other.
- Carefully slice into ribbons - quarter to half inch, your preference.
From here, you can add to a bowl with dressing and massage further, or at least make sure most of the kale is coated.
Best dressing for kale salad recipes
Because kale can be tough, I usually add some acidity to the dressing to help in breaking down. My top three acids to include in dressing one of these:
- lemon juice
- apple cider vinegar
- white vinegar
Even if you chiffonade the kale, adding an acidic dressing and massaging a bit can only help break down the structure even further, resulting in a soft, delicious kale. I often prep kale this way for all sorts of kale recipes, salads or not.
Did you make one of these vegan kale recipes?
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From salads to stews and pestos to burgers, this cruciferous veggie performs beautifully in a wide range of vegan kale recipes that highlight the hardy green.
the easiest kale recipe! learn all the tips for the best kale salad with this quick and easy method that is nutrient rich with bright flavor.
a favorite holiday kale recipe! This massaged kale salad brings zesty flavor that is beautifully complimented by a garnish of dried cranberries and crunchy cashews. this is a tasty sweet and savory vegan salad.
Avocado Kale Smoothie
Go head and stuff a handful of baby kale in your high speed blender, along with creamy avocado and a couple other nutrient rich ingredients. Blend this green machine of a smoothie into a refreshing and healthy drink.
Kale chips are a must-make for anyone craving a satisfying and healthy snack to nibble. These take less than 10 minutes to bake! Full of flavor from miso and sesame, these vegan kale chips are addicting AND pretty to look at! a classic kale recipe.
Perfect for a holiday or a weekend brunch at home, this veggie filled kale recipe is one you won't forget. Fresh avocado, greens, and a smoky hollandaise is a stack of deliciousness. Fresh baked in the oven, or super quick in the air fryer!
This savory vegan burger is full of curly kale, quinoa and portobello, and a major serving of garlic. These burgers are not only lovely to look at but the portobello can be grilled! Beautiful and nutritious!
Vegan Tuscan Kale White Bean Stew
This vegan kale recipe is perfect for a fall and winter comfort food fix. Full of protein and fiber, its heartiness comes from cannellini beans and lacinato kale. Add a few more ingredients and a host of spices and you have a stew that will keep you warm, cozy and satisfied.
Layers of noodles with portobello mushrooms, sautéed kale, potatoes, and marinara sauce. Make enough for leftovers because you'll want to enjoy this one again!
This gorgeous salad is a feast for the eyes as well as the body with its deeply hued tones of green and orange. Of course, it's fresh kale, juicy grapefruit and hazelnuts providing this rainbow of color and crunch. These tasty greens are drizzled with a maple tahini dressing. Beautiful!
This beautiful platter of greens is a hearty plant based update on that classic spinach salad we all remember, topped with a warm, smoky dressing! the warm dressing is a perfect accompaniment to this kale recipe!
Kale Pesto Pizza
Vegan pizza has never tasted as scrumptious as this garlicky kale-inspired pie. A kale and pecan pesto acts as the sauce and is topped with tomato, kale, and vegan cheese. Lovely kale recipe!
When you are craving something different! This stack of light and crispy waffles stuffed with a bright, lemony kale and savory tahini works for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Kristina is spabettie! She found cooking at an early age, and created spabettie in 2010 to share vegan recipes. Kristina turned her culinary training into sharing vibrant vegan food! Read more...
spabettie / Kristina Sloggett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Arnie Adam says
I found a great Kale & Walnut Pesto recipe this summer and have made up quite a few pint jars of it and stuck them in the freezer...as a way to bring that beautiful kale in my garden with me into the winter months. Freezing it meant I didn't have to cook the kale and destroy the"so-good-for-you" enzymes. You can use it in pasta, but I mostly use it as a spread on toast...and I'm really loving it as a way to get fresh kale into my diet nearly every day. It came out smoother in a blender, but was harder to process that way, so I resorted to a food processor. I had to tweak the recipe I found to get it to work for me:
1. Lightly steam 2 large handfuls of kale
2. Meanwhile, in a food processor mix: 3/4 cup olive oil, 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup vegan parmesan (1 cup raw cashews, 1 large clove garlic, 1/3 cup nutritional yeast...blended well into small particles), 1 clove galic, 1 tsp. salt.
3. Add lightly steamed kale to above mixture and puree. Makes about 1 pint.
Arnie Adam says
Oops...forgot that there is a tsp. of salt in the vegan parmesan...and actually when you lightly steam the kale, you are probably knocking out those lovely enzymes I spoke of. Maybe next year I'll try actually processing some in a hot water bath and see how that works...so I don't fill up my freezer.
thank you Arnie! 🙂
this sounds amazing, I am definitely going to try this! 🙂
David Crowley says
Creative! Have been getting a lot of kale from our CSA, so always on the lookout for new things to make with it. Recently made & posted about a kale pesto that was quite good.
hi David!! I'll have to look up your pesto, I am intrigued! thanks for reading!
Debbie @ Live from La Quinta says
I love kale too, but it wasn't until recently when I learned how to massage it that I found that I really love kale. It is delicious. Even my husband loves it and if you knew him you'd know how amazing that is.
YES - that's how it is here, too. Jason likes kale in our smoothies, but now he LOVES the massaged kale salads I make, especially the chiffonades! 🙂
Who doesn't love kale? Just last night I made pasta aglio e olio with kale and olives: delicious. 🙂 Hooray for all the kale!
mmm, kale and olives - that sounds delicious!
I love kale. This summer was our first attempt at growing kale in the garden and it was HUGE! It was so hearty and healthy (until the aphids came). I loved having kale in my garden. We sauteed it with dinners, I added it to salads and I absolutely loved kale chips. Yum!
isn't it great? I love walking outside and bringing in fresh veggies for dinner!
Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning says
ooh I love that shirt... (and I love kale).
Not to pimp myself out here, but did you see the kale recipe I posted last week? It's from a friend of mine, and it's unreal. I could eat it every single day (and usually make a huge batch of it so that I CAN eat it every day!).
It looks a bit similar to one that you have on this post (with the beets and almonds) http://www.oatmealafterspinning.com/2012/09/07/superfood-kale-salad/
I did see it - I commented but... I have still been having that spam issue 🙁 I commented again this morning... perhaps you can fish me out? 😀 that salad looks awesome, and you also got me even more excited for football! 😉
Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) says
I LOVE kale! That shirt sounds super cute! I need one! I signed the petition too! I could go on and on about bigger corporations stomping on the little guys today, but I will refrain from high jacking your blog today. I think I need some kale chips today!
I know - it's crazypants. can't we all just get along?? 😉 I LOVE when people ask me about the shirt, I tell everyone the story!! make some kale chips with FRANKS! 😀
I love kale too! Newly loved this year, I think...well, when I met M and his parents made authentic kale soup (given they are Portuguese and all!) and ever since, love! So versatile 😉
oooh, kale soup sounds interesting??
you've never had kale soup?! really??
I haven't!! you must educate me!
I'm on a kale-kick too spabettie! Just made some lasagna with it yesterday and it was delicious...http://bit.ly/TS61xj
Heather (Where's the Beach) says
I love kale, but tend to just stick to roasting it up. Of course, that's a change from before when I'd only use it in soup then I ventured out and would only saute it LOL.
[email protected] for the Soul says
Ahhh I roast it whenever I wanna eat it but have no time to cook it! 🙂 I think it's such a quick way to prepare it, or sometimes if I'm in a REALLY big hurry, I boil it for like 4 minutes. Hey, it's better than nothing, right? 😉
even quicker, just massage it with some oil and citrus! mmm...
your kale usage goes in trends then? 🙂