Five Southern Ways to Use Kale

Photo: Hector Sanchez
Or how to bring America’s most pretentious produce down home.

We won’t even try to open this piece with a knock on kale. That’s how ubiquitous it has become to make fun of this once disregarded green, which somehow transcended its humble form into something of a mascot of hipster and health-conscious eating trends.

But we have a feeling that if we could anthropomorphize kale and ask it how it feels about this status, it might not want to be the official crest on the flag waved by many a food movement. It was fine before all this.

Since it’s still peak greens season, we’ve picked some of our favorite Southern-style, no-recipe required ways to use kale that brings it back down home. You won’t find any green juices or dehydrated, nutritional yeast-dusted kale chips here, but perhaps a few more practical ideas on how to enjoy America’s most polarizing vegetable.

  1. Kick them up a notch: Saute leaves in olive (or coconut) oil with garlic or shallot and lemon juice. Then, hit them with your hot sauce of choice like Tabasco or Crystal.

  2. Forget the vinaigrette: Mix kale with pickled onions, leftover bread turned into DIY croutons, and carrot mathsticks. Serve with a dressing made from equal parts greek yogurt and buttermilk mixed with a smattering of fresh herbs and finely minced garlic. Thin the dressing down with Meyer lemon juice.

  3. Or don’t forget the vinaigrette: Mix black eyed peas, crumbled bacon, and kale together. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts and dress with a mixture of hot pepper vinegar, honey, lemon juice, and shallot.

  4. Swap in the L for K: The next time you make the South’s official sandwich, tomato plus mayo, top it with kale instead of lettuce.

  5. Fry it: While we don’t like to think that the South has some monopoly on frying things, we do like to think the South has a monopoly on frying things well. Regardless, fried kale leaves are the bomb dot com and can easily be added as a side dish to, well, anything.

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