Melissa Clark wrote about kale salad in the New York Times in 2007, and landfills across America have been filling with the discarded stems, also called the central ribs, ever since.
While some more enlightened cooks compost the stems, smarter (and cheaper) people eat them.
To be honest, I rarely eat kale salad. I prefer more tender leafy greens for salad, and I like my sturdy Brassicas like kale and collards cooked long and slow, which makes the stems tender and delicious.
Since I don’t destem the greens, I don’t have stems to dispose of. But lately, I’ve been making Portuguese-style collard greens, slicing the leaves into thin ribbons and cooking them quickly. It requires cutting out the stem and thick central rib from the leaves.
For the shopping list
collard greens or kale
*Use destemmed leaves to make Portuguese-style collard greens or, if you must, kale salad
From the kitchen
Skillet or Pan with Lid
They just need a little attention. Here are a couple of ways to make them delicious.
Slice the stems thinly, 1/4 inch or less. A bunch of collards or kale will provide about a cup of chopped stems.
Cook them in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a pinch of salt for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of vinegar along with about a half cup of water, cover the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the stems are very tender. Remove the lid and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
You’ll end up with barely enough for a single serving, but the cooked stems make a nice side dish on their own. But try adding them to a simple pasta dish, stir them into a bowl of beans, or fold the stems into an omelette.