Kale is another of those vegetables that is not regarded as being glamorous, but when cooked properly is as delicious and stylish as anything. Its more stylish cousins, such as the ragged-leaved and purple-tinged Red Russian or the long, dark and plume-like-leaved Nero di Toscano, otherwise known as Black Tuscany or Cavolo Nero, can also be cooked in the manner suggested here. Any of the kales are great in soups and broths, in purées, folded through mashed potatoes, in gratins, as a topping for grilled bread, as a simple accompanying vegetable to poultry, meat and fish and so on. Tiny pinched pieces of the raw kales can also be added to the winter green salad bowl.


  • 3 litres water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 500g kale with stalks removed to yield about 350g kale leaves
  • 5 tblsp olive oil
  • ½ lemon, optional
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • The key to the success of any kale recipe is to cook it really well until it is quite tender. It takes quite a bit of cooking to get it to this soft and comforting stage, so be a little patient and hopefully you will be amazed by its versatility and deliciousness.
  • Bring the water to a boil in a large wide saucepan. Add the salt. Add the kale leaves and cook uncovered at a good simmer for about 8 minutes. Taste a small piece of the kale to ensure it is really tender.
  • Drain the kale and allow to sit in a sieve or colander to lose as much of the cooking water as possible. Press it gently with your fingers to encourage a little more of the water to be expelled, but don't manhandle it as it will become compacted and less pleasant to eat.
  • Season with a few twists of black pepper and drizzle with olive oil and a little lemon juice if using and serve as soon as possible.