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Why You’ll Love Roasted Kale

By Annie Petito Published

Just 10 minutes in the oven unlocks a variety of vivid textures in the brassica.

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.)

Give it a Squeeze

There are two benefits to massaging the kale before roasting it: It evenly distributes the seasonings and oil and it begins to tenderize the leaves. 

 

Oil is key to attaining browning during roasting, but a quick toss didn’t thoroughly coat the ruffled leaves. Instead, I opted to take the time to spread the spun leaves directly on the sheet where they’d roast; drizzle them with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, along with some salt; and massage the oil and salt into the leaves. In addition to being the most efficient way to coat the kale, kneading and squeezing also breaks down the kale’s cell walls, darkening and tenderizing the leaves. Sure enough, just a minute after I began the process, the leaves began to soften, which transformed the mountainous pile into something manageable and evenly settled on the sheet.

With that, all that was left to do was roast. I slid the tray into a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes; the relatively high temperature encouraged browning and cooked the greens through quickly without drying them out. It wasn’t necessary to toss the leaves; in fact, leaving them be was key to attaining myriad textures: Pieces near the bottom were tender, as if sautéed; those closer to the top were crisp; and others made an audible crunch when eaten because of their deep browning. 

Roasted kale can certainly stand on its own, but I found that adding garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon to the mixture before roasting made the kale downright snackable. What’s more, the dish is so versatile that it’s easy to swap out the seasonings: Parmesan, shallot, and nutmeg turned the kale warm and nutty, and grated fresh ginger with coriander and unsweetened coconut chips (added after cooking) gave the greens a rich, citrusy sweetness.  

Recipe Roasted Kale with Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, and Lemon

Just 10 minutes in the oven unlocks a variety of vivid textures in the brassica.

Recipe Roasted Kale with Parmesan, Shallot, and Nutmeg

Just 10 minutes in the oven unlocks a variety of vivid textures in the brassica.

Recipe Roasted Kale with Coriander, Ginger, and Coconut

Just 10 minutes in the oven unlocks a variety of vivid textures in the brassica.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.