Adventures in Trying New Foods: Kale Update

At the beginning of the year, I announced that a resolution I wanted to make was to try a different food each month. Just one a month, to force myself to experiment with new ingredients.

In January, that ingredient of the month was kale. (You can see the whole line-up of foods I want to try over the course of the year here.)

Truth be told, I wasn’t really looking forward to this. But then if I was, I probably would have tried kale already, rather than having to force myself to cook with it! I knew all the health claims about it and wanted to work at fitting more of it into my diet instead of always defaulting to spinach.

So, I started by searching Pinterest for recipes that use kale. (Here's the pinboard I'm using to collect all the recipes I'd like to try with these new-to-me ingredients.) I gathered a couple that sounded good and picked up one bunch at the grocery store.

The first recipe on my list was a kale pesto. I’m a huge fan of pesto and so I couldn’t really resist.

One of the neat things about this resolution of mine is that in forcing myself to try one new ingredient, inevitably, I’m going to end up trying other new ones, too. Because the recipe for the pesto also called for pine nuts and shallots, which I’d never purchased before, either. So with one shot, I ended up cooking with not one but three new ingredients!

The kale pesto turned out pretty well, so much so that I actually transferred it from a scrap piece of paper to a formal index-card, tucked into my recipe box. My husband suggested it would make a great dip, like a grown-up alternative to our salsa standby.

I tried another recipe on my list (kale and red pepper pasta) but didn’t think it was all that impressive. There was another kale recipe I’d saved—yam and kale salad—but I didn’t have the guts to try it. So I ended up using the last of the kale to make another round of the pesto, which I froze so that we can defrost it for a last-minute meal over pasta.

It wasn't a ton of experimenting, but it was enough to get me more accustomed to cooking with kale, and hopefully encourage me to do even more of it in the future.

Up next? In February, I’ll be trying out Brussels sprouts. (You can see the whole line-up of foods I want to try over the course of the year here.) If you’ve got any good recipes for those little guys, I’d love to know. I’ll update you on how that one goes next month!

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  1. We eat kale a lot. Last time I cooked it was in a sausage hotpot along with carrots, tomatoes, butter beans and chickpeas. I will be putting kale in the curry I am cooking tonight as well :)
    As for Brussels sprouts, I prefer them as an accompaniment to something, like a roast dinner, but my husband has put them in curries and casseroles before. I look forward to reading about any recipes you try with them :)

    1. I dehydrated my Kale this year and I have already had a chance to put it in my soup. I know the value of Kale nutritionally so it made me feel good to have it on hand at the time. It kepted it's color I guess there is nothing I wont dry for my pantry...

  2. I LOVE Brussels Sprouts. Try cutting them in half (most recipes have that as the first step, for what it's worth) and cooking them in a skillet in a bit of oil. After they're browned (browning is important, be patient), pour about a cup of broth on them and put the lid on and cook them for maybe about ten minutes? Cook them until they're fully tender, and you're done.

    DELISH with mashed potatoes. Want to be really decadent? Fry bacon in the skillet. After the bacon is cooked, cook the sprouts in that grease. Cut up the bacon and serve it mixed in with the sprouts.

  3. Here are 3 recipes I've made that are so tasty! I basically sub collards/kale/spinach interchangeably. Brussel sprouts are right up there with broccoli and asparagus in my book. SO good. And cute too! Little mini cabbages. :)

    Kale with Apple & Sweet Onion:
    Smokey Kale & Lentils:

    Garlic Roasted Brussels:
    Also, Balsamic Roasted Brussels are fantastic!!!!

  4. I've only tried kale in soups, which I think is pretty darn good! I've never actually cooked with it myself though. I plan on making an Italian Wedding Soup soon...

  5. Oh, thank you thank you all for the yummy recommendations!

    I might have to cobble some of those together to give kale another go round. I'd love to try it in a soup like you suggested, Missy!

    Elspeth, I love the easy tips for making Brussels sprouts. Thanks. I need all the help I can get, even if it's totally obvious to everyone else. I have no clue what I'm doing half the time in the kitchen! :)

    Susanne, I am now following you on Pinterest. Love the recipes you have on there. You are way more adventurous in the kitchen than I can even aspire to be :)

  6. Good for you!! One way I was able to get my husband to eat more kale and swiss chard is to buy a small loaf of artisan bread at the bakery. Then take the kale &/or swiss chard and sautee it in a pan with a little chopped onions (and peppers/garlic if you like) with your favorite oils (we vary upon taste evo, flazseed, grape etc)until barely sauteed. Then I slice the artisan loaf and butter slightly into the nooks and crannies, then add the greens/onions deep into each slice (some will hang out) then bake until bread is just browned. This is an astoundingly gorgeous thing to look at and to eat. The kale/swiss chard and the bread is so good - great to eat with many things! My husband loves it. It reheats well next day if not refrigerated (wrap and keep cool). Enjoy your journey of new things!!!

  7. Last night I made pumpkin and kale pasta, and it was tasty! You should give it a try, here is the recipe:

  8. Olive Garden's "Zuppa Toscana" has kale in it. My wife found the soup recipe online, and we've made it several times. It's incredible stuff. :)

  9. I agree with the other commenters. Brussels sprouts and bacon defintely go together.

  10. I put Kale in some food daily. I saute it in some broth, apple juice, or even just water, and put it in a frittata or omellete (?did I spell that right?). I throw it in soups, or I roast it in the oven and make kale chips with it. I love the smokyness it gets when doing it this way. I also make brussel sprouts this way. They taste so much better roasted then any other way I have had them, and I have never had them a way I didn't like them. Here is the next kale recipe I am going to try. I picked up the stuff tonight that I was missing. It is Kale with apples, feta, and walnuts. It looks amazing and I can't wait to try it.

  11. My favorite Brussels sprout recipe is a sweet one, and begins with the basic step of browning the halves. After they're well on there way to browning, add: chopped pecans (let them toast a bit on the skillet before stirring them in), brown sugar, maple syrup if you're feeling extra sweet, and dried cranberries at the last minute. You can also add onions for another flavor; just brown these with the sprouts from the beginning.

  12. Yum! You all are such a treasure trove of recipe ideas! Thank you so much. I wish I would have had more of these last month when I was trying to use up that kale! :) But I'm looking forward to trying some of your Brussels sprouts recommendations. Kate, love the idea of giving them a sweet twist!

  13. Kale is a new discovery for me as well. Have you ever had kale chips? They're such a healthy snack. You just tear the kale into small pieces, stick them on a baking sheet, and drizzle them or spray them with olive oil. After you bake them, they come out crunchy and addictively delicious!


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