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How to Prep Kale

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Inspired by conversations on the FOOD52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun. 

Today: Stop avoiding kale. All it needs is a little massaging to reveal its soft, sweet -- well, sweeter -- side. 


You can't avoid kale. It's in salad! It's in pilaf! It's even where you'd least expect it: on pulled pork sandwiches! But then again, why would you want to avoid the leafy green that's turned the salad world on its head? 

Kale's healthy, easy to prepare, and with the right set of recipes, kale is downright delectable. "But," you'll argue, "kale is bitter, tough, and just plain unenjoyable." Don't worry: we've got a trick to solve that. 

Give in to the kale craze. Pick up a bunch of those dark, leafy greens and get chopping. 

De-ribbing: Unless you're using baby kale, you'll probably want to remove the tough stems running down the center of the leaves.

To de-rib, simply fold the kale over along the rib and run a sharp knife down the side:

Chopping: If you're making a dish where you need big pieces of kale -- kale and corn quesadillaskale chips, or a sausage and kale dinner tart, for example -- you don't have much work to do.

Just stack the de-ribbed kale leaves and chop into rough squares:

Slicing: If your recipe calls for finely sliced kale -- maybe an elegant salad or a crustless quiche -- prepping your kale will take a bit more effort. (But don't worry, it's still pretty simple.)

First, roll your kale leaves, starting from the top and rolling downwards. You'll end up with fat, wide tubes:

Starting at one of the open ends of the tube, slice the kale into thin strips as if you were making a chiffonade:

You'll end up with millions of thinly sliced kale strips:

When you're planning to slice kale this thinly, you can get away with only removing the bottom part of the stems, depending on your preferences. 

Tenderizing/Massaging: Known for being tough and bitter, all kale needs is a little massaging to reveal its soft, sweet -- well, sweeter -- side. 

Once the kale has been de-stemmed and cut, dump it into a bowl. Add a teaspoon of oil (olive oil, not massaging oil) and a bit of salt. This will make the massage more enjoyable for the kale. (Okay, that's not true, but it will help the kale break down more easily.) 

Now it's time to get massaging. Knead and squeeze with your hands:

You'll know the rub-down is over when the leaves are dark and silky (the time may vary depending on the type of kale you're using): 

Your kale -- feeling refreshed after a great massage -- is ready to be the base of the most delicious salad you'll ever eat

Photos by James Ransom

What's your favorite way to use kale? Tell us in the comments below!

Tags: kale, greens, vegetables, produce, how-to & diy

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