13 Ways to Prepare Kale: Pasta with Pesto

Until the early 2000s, if you saw kale on a plate, it was as a garnish. Technically edible but almost always left intact, kale was considered the way many view parsley: pretty to look at but not something to eat. In its raw state it can be a mouthful – crunchy, rough and even a little woody if you get down to the stem.

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But at the start of the new millennium, things began to change. According to Google Trends, kale steadily became the subject of more searches starting around 2007, followed by a sharp rise in 2010 that peaked in February 2014. Kale chips were no longer a snack for crunchy granola-like individuals, and massed kale salads have found their place. Chef-prepared café menus. Kale has even become a key ingredient in smoothies, giving spinach a run for its money.

Like tofu or Brussels sprouts, it’s all about preparation when it comes to kale. Once you know, you can turn this highly cruciferous dark leafy green into something tasty, even irresistible.

If you still haven’t found your favorite kale recipe or are looking to shake things up, try one of these vegan kale recipes to take advantage of this product.

Benefits of Kale

As a category, dark leafy greens have high nutritional value. Plants such as collard greens, spinach, bok choy and kale are high in fiber, low in fat and calories and provide an abundance of vitamins and minerals.


According to the Mayo Clinic, one cup of chopped raw kale contains 33 calories, three grams of protein, three grams of fiber, and notable amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, and iron. These nutrients not only provide your body with what it needs to function, but fiber and protein also provide satiety, meaning you’ll stay full longer.

Aside from nutrition, another benefit of kale is that it can withstand heat. Unlike spinach which wilts and shrinks significantly in volume when sautéed, kale does not shrink as much. When steamed, baked, sautéed or fried, kale retains some of its structural integrity, providing a pleasant chew and just enough texture to keep a meal interesting.

Types of Kale

Most grocery stores carry two types of kale: curly and lacinato (the latter is also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale). Kale tends to be the most popular. It is defined by its large, broad leaves with tight ridges which tend to curl over each other. It is extremely crispy on its own and is best served softened by massaging, marinating, mixing, or applying heat.

VegNews.Kale.MarisaMortonUnsplashMarisa Morton/Unsplash

Lacinato kale is long and thin and the leaves are flat and narrow. Although still rough in its raw state, lacinato kale is more delicate than kale and is not as hard to chew. Lacinato kale also wilts a little more easily than collard greens, so keep that in mind when determining how much you’ll need for a soup or stir-fry – favor buying more.

13 Vegan Kale Recipes

From crispy kale chips to tangy kale salad, here’s just a taste of what’s possible with kale as the star ingredient.


Charles Deluvio

1 Cheezie, crunchy kale chips

In 2011, Gwyneth Paltrow published a book called Notes from my kitchen table which included a recipe for kale chips. Later that year, she performed the recipe on several daytime television shows, including Helene. Paltrow certainly didn’t invent the concept of kale chips, but we have to give her credit for giving them a slight boost in popularity.

This version of the kale chip wasn’t the brainchild of Paltrow, but it’s just as snackable on its own. Seasoned with a thick paste of tahini, nutritional yeast, chipotle powder, and cayenne pepper, these delicate and crispy pieces of kale would definitely be GOOP approved. Pro Tip: Make sure your kale is completely dry before seasoning it. Wet kale will always result in soft chips.

vegnews.angelhairpastaJannet Gronnow

2 Lemon, Kale, and Feta Angel Hair Pasta

This summery pasta dish is loaded with fresh vegetables and full of flavor. Thinly sliced ​​kale adds a pop of green among bright cherry tomatoes, creamy cannellini beans, briny vegan feta, and light angel hair pasta tossed in a lemon butter sauce.

VegNews.VeganLentilStewwithKaleClaire Power

3 French Lentil and Kale Stew

Prepared for the colder months, this hearty stew of protein-rich lentils and robust kale is filling enough for a meal on its own. Serve with a thick slice of crusty, buttered bread for a nourishing and soothing meal on a windy winter day.

Vegnews.kalepestoDanielle Keith

4 Two-Step Oil-Free Kale Pesto

Pesto isn’t just about basil and pine nuts: you can make pesto with almost any green leaf and nut. This version combines equal parts kale and basil with almonds and nutritional yeast for an earthy, lightly cheesy, and deliciously complex pesto that’s perfect for everything from pasta to pizza.

VegNews.ChocolateAcaiSmoothieMatt James

5 Chocolate Smoothie with Kale and Blueberries

There’s a lot of stuff in this smoothie — açaí, almond milk, almond butter, cocoa nibs, and blueberries — so you won’t taste the kale. It leans towards fruit with just a hint of chocolate flavor. Pile on as much kale as possible to sip up these essential nutrients.

VegNews.BuffaloChickpeasCabbageSaladShanika Graham White

6 Vegan Roasted Buffalo Chickpea Salad

One way to soften crispy kale is to toss it with a creamy dressing and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Unlike other lettuces, kale doesn’t get soggy, it tenderizes. Coated in creamy vegan ranch or maple tahini, a bed of kale is the perfect vessel for crunchy and spicy roasted chickpeas.

VegNews.VeganCajunSweetPotatoRigatoniShanika Graham White

7 Vegan Sweet Potato, Coconut, and Kale Rigatoni

Two full cups of coarsely chopped kale are incorporated into this incredibly thick and luxuriously creamy coconut and sweet potato sauce. The large tubes of thick rigatoni pasta cling to this incredible, slightly spicy sauce, leaving little behind. This would also be fantastic served with cascatelli pasta.

VegNews.SavoryOatmealStephanie Romine

8 Cheesy Vegan Oatmeal with Kale and Pumpkin Seeds

Salted oats should be more present. Although oats are most often served in sweet applications, the fact is that oats are a grain and we generally enjoy savory grains. Flavored with nutritional yeast and paprika, this bowl of oats pairs well with shredded kale, chunks of avocado, and crunchy pepitas. There’s no misstep when it comes to enjoying oatmeal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

VegNews.AppleChickpeasChouchouSaladCaryn Jeanne Carruthers

9 Kale, Chickpea and Apple Salad with Dill-Mustard Vinaigrette

Vibrant, juicy and herbaceous, this salad is ideal for office lunches and picnics as it will brighten your day and satisfy your hunger. No more sad salads and enjoying a healthy lunch.

VegNews.WarmKaleSaladRachel Morris

ten Warm Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

We’re not ashamed, we love a warm salad. There’s a time and place for crispy, cold romaine, but when the weather isn’t ideal, a warm, nourishing, hearty kale salad with tons of roasted, caramelized sweet potato chunks is just what we want. Tossed in a pan for two minutes, the warmed kale immediately softens and absorbs the thick, luscious maple tahini vinaigrette. This is one of those salads that you never get tired of.

VegNews.TofuScrambleHollan Hawaii

11 Spicy Vegan Curry Tofu Scramble

We love a tasty brunch that can double as dinner. We love it even more because it’s a two-step, one-skillet meal. Chopped kale complements crumbled curry-seasoned tofu and tangy diced red peppers for a protein-rich main dish that’s great with a side of herb-roasted potatoes or buttered toast with jam.

VegNews.KaleCaesar.Ashley Madden

12 Vegan Caesar Salad with Tahini and Smoky Chickpeas

Caesar salad is timeless, but one made with kale instead of romaine makes this classic dish fashionable. Dressed with a vegan Caesar dressing infused with nutty tahini, sweet and spicy chickpeas, and umami-packed vegan bacon bits, this salad reminds us why Caesar salad prevailed.

VegNews.KaleSlawBBQNatalia K.W.

13 Kale Salad with BBQ Nut Crumble

Cabbage and kale are cruciferous vegetables; It should come as no surprise that kale can be used to make a fresh, crisp coleslaw. Filled with smoked walnut crumble and coated in a tangy, not-too-sweet seasoned mayonnaise dressing, this is a side dish everyone will love.

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