We’ve all been told to “eat our greens,” but if you had to choose one for beauty, kale may top the list. Hardy enough to survive winter’s chill, kale is jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients, can help lower your cholesterol and risk of cancer, and, maybe best of all, it’s great for your skin.
One serving of this crunchy green contains more than 200% of the daily value of vitamin A, a nutrient that keeps your complexion glowing and youthful by promoting healthy cell repair. Kale also has high levels of vitamins C and K, both of which help firm the skin, as well as phytonutrients that can help reduce redness and inflammation from acne or psoriasis.
Kale has a strong, peppery flavor that can sometimes verge on bitter, but cooking helps neutralize any of its harshness. The curly-leaf variety has the strongest bitter notes, while Tuscan kale has more of an earthy taste. Russian Red kale—it’s a little harder to find than some other types, but is usually available in farmer’s markets and natural food stores—has a mild and sweet flavor that’s perfect for sauteing or eating raw in salads. These three recipes highlight the bright flavors of any variety of this leafy green; pick up what looks good when you’re shopping!
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once heated, add crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat if desired, and simmer for 30 seconds. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds (note: cloves should get soft, but not brown). Next, add kale to the oil and saute for about a minute. Top with vegetable stock, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until kale is tender, about 12–15 minutes. Stir in vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add pancetta if desired, and cook until crispy, about 3 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and carrots and cook for another 3 minutes. Add broth, kale, tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaf to the pot and cover. Cook until kale is tender, about 12–15 minutes. Stir in cannellini beans and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread. Serves 4
Preheat grill or grill pan over high heat. Toss shrimp with lemon zest, garlic, and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Grill for 2–3 minutes per side. Meanwhile, rub kale leaves with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Grill until brown and crispy on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Roughly chop kale into bite-sized pieces and place into a large bowl. Cut the demi-baguettes in half and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Grill until slightly charred on both sides, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Add the bread, bell peppers, tomatoes, goat cheese, and shrimp to the bowl. Combine all dressing ingredients and pour over the salad, tossing to coat. Serves 4–6