Here is another thing I make in bulk and freeze so I can have something very nearly ready to go at dinnertime. By the end of the day I have no imagination left for dinner so often our nutrition suffers (Annie’s mac and cheese again? yay!). But, I can be virtuous and lazy if I have kale in my freezer.
If you would have told me two years ago that I would fall deeply in love with kale I wouldn’t have believed you. I only tried in initially because I felt guilted into eating better (see: Annie’s mac and cheese). However, preparing it for dinner can seem like it would just take too much effort what with all the washing and chopping. It took me way too long to realize that I could blanch it to freeze and have ready to go. One note: I did find bags of frozen kale for sale at Amazon Fresh but they are cut the same way that cut frozen spinach comes, roughly and too small, and I find it rather unpleasant to eat.
Below is step by step instructions on how I get it ready. I put it here because I figure I cannot be the only person who has no idea how to do this. I used the instructions from Pick Your Own, and these here are what I’ve figured out in order to do a lot of kale in batches as efficiently as possible.
If you just freeze greens they get bitter, but if you dunk them in boiling water for a few minutes, then stop the cooking abruptly you kill of the enzymes that create the bitter flavor. This is called blanching and except for watching Martha Stewart do it to green beans years ago I never knew much about it.
I usually buy four bunches of kale, which is a lot of kale. First, start boiling water in a huge stockpot. (My electric kettle gets a lot of work here.) Put a large bowl in your sink and fill it with water. Dunk the kale around to wash it. If you bought it from your local organic market look closely for little buggies. Sometimes they just hug the stem and you can get rid of them in the next step. I usually don’t find bugs but there was this one time when I just re-fused to throw out four whole bunches of kale and had to work carefully.
Next, trimming. The easiest way to trim out the stem is to fold the kale leaf in half lengthwise with the stem facing away from you. Run the tip of a knife along the stem to separate it. (I learned this in Everyday Food, I think.)
Then you can leave the kale where it is and quickly chop it. Now move that into a bowl and do the next one. If you develop an assembly line rhythm at this point you can get through all your kale pretty quickly.
(Let’s talk briefly about knives. I have an expensive 8″ chefs knife, but I nearly always reach for my Oxo Santoku Knife, which is $20. Just saying. Good stuff.)
Now get the following things ready: a huge pot of boiling water with a lid, a huge bowl of ice water, a strainer you can use to move the kale from the boiling water to the ice water, a salad spinner, a large kitchen towel laid out flat on your counter and a kitchen timer set to two minutes.
When the water is boiling dump a bunch of the kale in it, put on the lid (the steam helps cook the bits bobbing on top) and let it cook for two minutes. I usually just stir it once.
When the time is up quickly lift the kale from the pot of water into the ice bath. You’ll reuse the boiling water for the next batch. The water turns progressively darker green with each batch but I cannot imagine that would hurt anything. Bet it would be great for making vegetable stock. Someday I’ll make stock of some sort.
Now we need to get it dry. I spin it in a salad spinner. (The OXO Salad Spinner still totally rules. I have the little one and it works fine for two people.)
Then I lay it flat on a kitchen towel. When all the batches of kale are done I roll the towel up…
Then I lay the kale out on a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet. Pop that in the freezer and in about 30 minutes it will be frozen enough for you to shake into your airtight container of choice.
And there you are, it’s all ready to pull out of the freezer, saute in olive oil with a little minced garlic (I’m not ashamed to love my garlic press) just until it’s hot, shake a bit of crushed red pepper and salt on top and, ta da!, excellent leafy green side dish that allow you to be smug about your eating habits and level of cleverness for the next 24 hours.