Kale- Curly, Lacinato 'Dino", and Scarlet


Kale- Curly, Lacinato 'Dino", and Scarlet

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Curly Kale

This stuff is everywhere. It’s kale’s most common variety, and like the name advertises, has wavy, curly edges on each leaf. Being the most common, it’s earned the reputation as overplayed, but we think it’s actually a bit underrated. After stripping the leaves from those tough, fibrous stems, it’s great sautéed with a bit of garlic or slow-simmered in oil, and even roasted alongside proteins or other vegetables. The curly edges crisp up beautifully when exposed to the oven's dry heat, and they taste great when cooked in an almost dry skillet. It's a little bit tough compared to other varieties, so if you're going to eat it raw, it needs to be gently massaged with a bit of salt and acid like lemon juice or vinegar; that said, when treated properly, it lends a delicate, feathery texture to salads, and those crinkly edges make for a dramatic presentation.

Tuscan Kale aka Lacinato Kale aka Dinosaur Kale

It goes by a lot of different names, but whatever you want to call it, this is our rock. This is our favorite child. This is the kale we love to cook—and not cook—the most. It has a deeper color and is slightly thinner and more tender than curly kale, making it more versatile—it cooks more quickly and requires less massaging for use in raw preparations. Slow cook it. Remove the stems and use it in a salad or slice it into strips to make a slaw. We also love it stirred into soup or pasta right when it’s being finished in the pan. Tuscan kale has a pleasant, chewy texture that disappears when overcooked, so be sure to keep an eye on it.

Red Kale

Red kale, sometimes called "scarlet kale" and "red Russian kale" is almost identical to curly kale, except in appearance. Depending on the specific variety and when it is harvested, it may have deep red-hued leaves and stems, or just ruddy-colored stems and grey-green leaves. In any case, it's a looker, so we love to massage it gently and mix it into salads that already have greens in them. And you can never go wrong sautéing it slowly in garlic and oil with a good pinch of salt, and finished it with lemon juice, a hit of fresh olive oil, chile flakes, and flaky sea salt.

Baby Kale

Baby kale is exactly what it sounds like: a younger version of kale. You're probably more likely to find this in a plastic tub with the salad greens, which is a good clue as to how it wants to be treated. Don’t cook it as long as you would mature kale—if you're going to cook it at all; we don't—and definitely don’t massage its tender leaves unless you want green mush in your salad. Baby kale’s flavor isn’t as strong, so be gentle. Instead of using this as a base, we like baby kale as a supplement to other greens in salads. It gets you a hit of the kale flavor and those dark leafy green nutrients without the need to commit completely.


By Alex Delany