Padma Lakshmi Shares Her Favorite Ways to Cook With Kale

I love using kale because it’s a very hearty and versatile green — it stands up well to heat and is more nutrient-dense than regular lettuces. When I’m preparing a meal, I always like to stack the deck with as many nutrients as possible, especially when I’m cooking for my daughter.

There are several types of kale, which can sometimes be used interchangeably. My favorite types are lacinato (also called dinosaur or Tuscan), curly and red.

The health benefits of kale: Kale has lots of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A, which is good for eye and bone health and immunity support; vitamin C, which aids in cold and chronic disease prevention; vitamin K, which is good for your blood and bones; folate, a B vitamin that aids in brain development; omega-3 fatty acids; calcium; and potassium.

How to store and prep kale: The most important thing to do after buying kale is to wash it and allow it to dry before storing. I like to buy it loose, wash it, allow it to dry and then wrap it in paper towels and store it in an airtight bag in the fridge. If you buy the pre-chopped kinds in bags, make sure to wash and dry it, transfer it to an airtight container and throw a paper towel in there, as it will develop moisture and rot more easily.

Try not to leave bags of greens in the fridge for more than a few days, otherwise they will wilt and you’ll have wasted that purchase.

When prepping kale, you want to separate the leaf from the stem. (The stem is incredibly fibrous, and not usually eaten.) After that, you can put it to use in three of my favorite recipes with kale:

Kale, Mozzarella and Pomegranate Salad with Mint

Padma Lakshmi

This elegant dish is colorful and bursting with flavor. The flavors deepen the longer it sits. You can swap the cheese for some Granny Smith apple if you’re looking to make it without dairy.

South Indian Lentil Soup (Masoor Dal)

Padma Lakshmi

This lentil soup, also known as dal, is my go-to comfort food. It’s what I most crave when I come home after a long shoot. Every Indian family has their own version — the variations are boundless. I eat it at least once a week, if not more.

White Bean Stew with Cumin and Tomatoes

Padma Lakshmi

I love this dish because it’s both hearty and healthy. It’s adapted from a dish originating in North India called rajma, which is made with kidney beans, but swapping those out for white beans gives it a buttery, creamier texture, though it’s actually a vegan dish.

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