By now, most people know what kale is. They've had it in salads, soups, and crispy kale chips. It's even growing in The Garden at AT&T Park. The Giants team chef has a go-to salad of kale, bacon, and lemon that's quickly become a team favorite. Kale is incredibly nutritious and versatile. But there's more than one kind. And which kale to use depends on what you're cooking.
Most recipes won't tell you which variety to use. You'll just see "add 1 small bunch of kale." And most cooking videos use lacinato kale for everything from soups to salads, which is fine, but curly kale works great in soups too. There's no rule book about when to use which one. But based on texture, taste, and cooking characteristics, raw lacinato kale works great in salads, and curly kale is great in cooked soups. Try each recipe below; then try them again with the other kind of kale and see if you agree.
Curly Kale, White Bean, and Sausage Soup
Makes 6-8 servings
2 small bunches curly kale, stems removed and discarded, chopped into bite-size strips
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 links Italian sausage, removed from casings
2 large carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 large potato, diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6.5 cups (52 oz.) chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Add small-size pasta, such as macaroni
- Fill a large stockpot with 6.5 cups of chicken stock and bring to a low boil.
- While you wait for the stock to boil, cut open the Italian sausage casing, remove the sausage, and sauté in a skillet on medium-high heat.
- Break the sausage up a bit as it cooks to get spoon-friendly-size pieces (you don't want big meatball-size chunks). When the sausage is done, remove it from the pan and drain the excess oil on a paper towel-covered plate. Then remove the grease from the pan, leaving just enough to sauté the onion and garlic.
- Sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes in the skillet on medium-high heat.
- Add the Italian sausage, sautéed onion and garlic, drained cannellini beans, carrots, potatoes, and bay leaves to the stockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir occasionally.
- Add the kale. Simmer for at least 45 minutes. The potatoes and beans will add creaminess the longer they cook. This soup is even better the next day.
- If you like, add small-size pasta, such as macaroni, to the stockpot toward the end. Just be sure to give the pasta enough time to reach al dente before serving.
Lacinato Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad
Makes 8-10 servings
2 large bunches (1.5 lbs.) of lacinato kale (aka dino or Tuscan kale), stems removed and discarded, sliced thin
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
1 cup finely grated pecorino
- In a small bowl, stir together the shallot, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Let sit.
- Mix thinly sliced lacinato kale and shredded brussels sprouts in a large bowl.
- Take 1 tablespoon from the 1/2 cup of olive oil and heat at medium-high in a small skillet. Add almonds and stir frequently until they start to turn golden brown, roughly two minutes. Place nuts on a paper-towel-covered plate to drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
- Gradually whisk remaining olive oil into the small bowl with the lemon juice and Dijon dressing mix. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cover dressing and kale mixture separately, and chill in the refrigerator. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature. You can prepare these ahead of time and keep them for eight hours.
- When ready to serve, add dressing, almonds, and cheese to the kale and sprouts mixture. Toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper.