Even the cynics have to admit: Kale has range. Raw, its leaves are tenacious and hearty, but a brief stint on the stovetop renders the vegetable moist and tender, and a long, low period in the oven produces crispy, shattery chips. And as I recently discovered, roasting can capture the many faces of cooked kale on a single baking sheet. In just 10 minutes in a hot oven, the leaves turn a deep emerald color and take on a delightful mélange of textures: crunchy, browned edges; crisped centers; and still-tender wilted spots. It’s the most versatile of dishes, equally capable of accompanying a simple entrée and melding seamlessly into pastas, scrambles, or grain bowls when you’re clearing out the fridge.
There are generally two widely available options when it comes to kale—Tuscan (also known as dinosaur or lacinato) and curly. Tuscan kale gets a lot of love for its more tender leaves, but the frilly, more fibrous curly kale actually works better here: Its leaves retain some volume and featheriness, while the crinkly edges crisp and brown dramatically.
After rinsing and stripping the leaves from the tough stems of a pound’s worth of kale (enough to serve four but still roast on a single sheet), I tore the leaves into 1½- to 2-inch pieces, which would wilt to bite-size. To get the kale to brown, I knew it was crucial that it be rid of most of its excess moisture, so I broke out my salad spinner, spinning the leaves in batches until most of the water was whisked away. (Leaving a few beads of water on the leaves helped them soften during roasting.)