Though the passion for kale that burned the last decade or so seems to have cooled a bit, it’s still a most valuable vegetable. Here’s a concise collection of vegan kale recipes, including main dishes, salads, side dishes, smoothies, and soups. You’ll also find kale chips and even an offbeat kale ice cream!
Common kale varieties
Kale is in the family of cruciferous vegetables, along with broccoli and cauliflower. It comes in several varieties, the most common of which are the curly green, lacinato (also called dinosaur kale), and Russian.
Lacinato kale has long, narrow leaves that are a handsome forest green, sometimes blue-green. Russian Kale is also curly, with red-tipped leaves and a slightly less sweet flavor than its monochromatic counterpart.
The mild, slightly sweet flavor of the common curly variety is the most widely adaptable to all manner of preparations (including smoothies!), but lacinato and Russian kale are totally worth using if you happen to spot them. For the most part, they’re interchangeable in vegan kale recipes.
Baby kale is a newer variety that makes it even easier to use, as it doesn’t need to be stemmed.
Kale nutrition notes
Everyone’s wild for greens these days, and it’s no wonder. Greens are recognized as the most nutrient-rich group of veggies, with a multitude of benefits:
The hardier greens, like kale, chard, and collards are superb sources of highly absorbable calcium, a perk that’s especially valuable in plant-based diets.
Greens, including kale, are one of the best sources of Vitamin K, essential to bone health. And, they’re abundant in vitamins A, B (especially folic acid), and C. Greens also provide a wealth of antioxidants and chlorophyll. Before moving on to the vegan kale recipes ahead, you might be interested in a detailed look at kale’s nutrition facts and benefits.
Main dishes featuring kale
Kale Pesto Pasta with Mushroom “Bacon”: Kale pesto goes a lot farther than using a bunch of basil, the traditional ingredient in pesto — and maybe you’ll find that it tastes even better.
Kale and Sweet Potato Stew with Yellow Squash: With its deep green color and elaborately ruffled leaves, kale is contrasted with yellow squash and bright orange sweet potato in a fantastic fall dish.
Vegan Sheet Pan Hash Browns with Tofu & Kale: Vegan sheet pan hash browns with tofu and kale is an easy-to-prep, easy clean-up weekend brunch dish and a fantastic “breakfast-for-dinner” main dish.
Red Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn: This colorful, easy red quinoa pilaf is packed with tasty and good for you ingredients. It can be a side dish or entree, depending on what else is being served with it.
Red Onion, Mushroom, and Kale Pizza: Filling and flavorful, this colorful pizza departs only slightly from tradition with a companionable trio of vegetable toppings. Satisfying and full of flavor, this pizza goes down easy.
Baby kale is great in salads; no need to massage!
How to Massage Kale (and a few delicious salad ideas: To get the most enjoyment from raw salads, learning how to massage kale is a must! A quick massage makes it nice and tender, and improves the mouthfeel of raw kale tremendously.
Vegan Kale Caesar Salad with Spiced Chickpeas: This plant-based version of a classic American salad is topped with spiced chickpeas instead of the traditional croutons and is enveloped in an easy creamy dressing.
Asian-Flavored Cabbage and Kale Slaw: When you combine cabbage and kale in a single salad and give them an Asian spin, it takes these two cruciferous vegetables to another level.
Kale and Avocado Salad: This salad is seriously delicious, with the addition of corn and tomatoes. Add the optional beans and it becomes a main dish salad.
Kale and Quinoa Salad with Black Beans: With black beans, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds as a trio of protein ingredients, larger portions of this kale salad can easily be served as a main dish.
Kale Salad with Cashews & Cranberries: Here’s a simple massaged kale salad with cashews and dried cranberries that’s festive enough for holidays and easy enough for everyday meals.
Kale Salad with Chickpeas and Avocado: This simple kale salad features a lemon-olive oil dressing and is arranged in a pleasing presentation for extra eye appeal.
Kale and Butternut Squash Salad with Apples and Cranberries: This gorgeous composed salad has “fall” written all over it — a lively composition of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Kale and Cucumber Salad with Avocado-Tahini Dressing: This easy salad is dressed in a luscious dressing of avocado and tahini. While this dressing is ideal for this and other kinds of kale salads, it’s great on most any kind of green salad.
Cool Cucumber and Kale Salad with Hot and Spicy Tofu: If you enjoy salads that are both hot and cold, you’ll love this refreshing cucumber and kale salad, topped with sriracha-sautéed tofu.
Kale and Cabbage Salad with Baby Corn and Bok Choy: Kale is quite compatible with Asian flavors when used as a salad green.This colorful salad is especially good with the napa variety, but the other green cabbages — or even red cabbage — work as well.
Fruity, Nutty Massaged Kale Salad: The secret to this salad is using a trail mix that has a nice blend of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. That’s what gives this simple salad its “wow factor” with no extra effort. The pop of sweet apple or pear doesn’t hurt, either!
Kale and Pomegranate Salad with Avocado: This simple and colorful salad proves that you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a bold statement.
Kale Side dishes
Kale and Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Almonds: Kale and Brussels sprouts are a compatible pair of vegetables in this super green side dish. A flexible recipe, you can use other greens in place of kale. Halves of Brussels sprouts look appealing mingled with leafy greens, and they taste great together, too.
Sesame Stir-Fried Kale and Red Cabbage: This simple and pretty preparation of stir-fried kale and red cabbage proves that this hardy green is perfect for flash-cooking over high heat.
Kale and Cabbage Colcannon: In this classic Irish recipe, potatoes, cabbage, and/or kale are lightly browned in a skillet. In this vegan version, both kale and cabbage are used, as well as a generous amount of scallion.
Kale Smoothies, ice cream, & chips
Kale and Pear Smoothie: If you like pears, you’ll love this kale and pear smoothie. It features a double dose of the mellow fruit, both in fresh and juice form. Fresh mint adds a nice touch if you like minty flavors.
Green Smoothie with Banana and Avocado: Here’s a basic green smoothie recipe in which you can use kale (or collards or spinach), made filling and tasty with banana and avocado.
Kale, Banana & Avocado Maca Smoothie: Leafy greens (kale, collards, or spinach), banana, and avocado are perfect partners for maca root powder in this tasty green smoothie. Enjoy this avocado maca smoothie to start your day or as a mid-day energy booster.
Green Smoothie Coconut Kale Ice Cream: Kale ice cream? Yes, it’s true, and it’s truly delicious, too! Hannah Kaminsky’s invention may sound like a wild stretch of the imagination when it comes to vegan kale recipes, but the sum of these austere elements just might create a whole new food craze.
Classic Oven-Baked Kale Chips: This is an easy recipe to make, but there are a few tips to the procedure to ensure that these come out crisp and even. A bit of trial and error taught me that, and you’ll likely find the same.
Do you want more vegan kale recipes and more greens?
See Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas