Kale is a nutrient dense food high in antioxidants, sometimes referred to as a superfood because of these qualities. It’s a deeply colored leafy green with a firm texture that’s used raw in salads, protein shakes and smoothies. However, if you want to maximize the vitamins and minerals in kale, it’s best to eat it cooked. It’s a known fact that eating any food cooked provides access to more nutrients than raw food. But, before using for either a raw or cooked recipe, let’s discuss how to clean and parboil kale.
In this post, we’ll show you how to clean kale and to parboil it to use in recipes like our Creamed Kale and Leeks (coming next week). Toss kale into soups and stews during the final 15 minutes of cooking to add color, texture, and nutrients. Try our Chicken Kale and White Bean Stew, a delicious one-dish meal.
Kale is usually sold in bundles of leaves that weigh approximately 8 ounces. Once the tough stems are removed, you have around 5-6 ounces of useable greens, which need a thorough rinse to rid them of any grit. It’s much easier to do clean when the stems are removed first.
A pound of kale (stems and all) yield about 2 cups parboiled and squeezed dry kale.
How to Trim Kale
There are two ways to remove the stems, either by using your hands to pull the green away from the leaf or to cut it away with a knife.
To use your hands, grab the kale with the leafy party toward your palm right where the stem begins. Pull the stem back, but don’t break it. Pull towards the top of the kale and remove the tough upper rib as well.
To use a knife, lay the leaf on a cutting board and fold it in half so the rib is revealed. Take a sharp knife and start almost at the top of the leaf and draw the knife along the inside edge until the leaf is free.
If the recipe calls for chopped kale, cut it up before washing.
For salads, cut the leaves in half lengthwise and pile one on top of the other. Roll the leaves lengthwise and cut thinly across top to bottom and then wash.
How to Wash the Kale
Plunge the trimmed leaves into a large bowl filled with cold water. Swish around and scoop the kale into a colander. Drain the bowl, refill, and repeat. Repeat the process until there’s no grit on the bottom of the bowl.
How to Store Kale
Spread the kale out on a large towel (such as a flour sack towel) or a length of paper towel and roll. Place in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
How to Parboil Kale
Fill a large saucepan (7-quart) with cold water, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and bring to a boil.
Have a strainer ready to drain the parboiled kale.
Make an ice bath by filling a very large bowl with water and a couple of handfuls of ice cubes to plunge the kale into to stop the cooking.
Place 1/3 of the trimmed and cleaned kale in the boiling water, stir to get the kale completely into the water. Add another third, stir, and then the final third. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
Drain the kale and immediately plunge it into the cold-water bath. Stir a couple of times to make sure all the leaves are free. Remove any ice cubes and drain the kale again.
Remove the excess moisture from the kale by squeezing in handfuls.
NOTE: If you are using the leaves whole, such as in a stuffed leaf recipe, don’t squeeze dry.
The kale is now ready to be used in a recipe or frozen.