Co-op Blog

How to Enjoy Purple Kale + 7 Recipes To Try

Along with fresh fruits and root vegetables, we carry a loads of leafy veggies here at the Co-op. There’s green leaf lettuce, mixed green salad blends, some good ol’ spinach, colorful chard, all sorts of microgreens, and of course, kale. And if you’re looking to pick up some kale, you’ve probably noticed that we carry a few different varieties, all of which have their own unique flavor, and look.

Lacinato kale has large, thick leaves, and it lacks curly edges. Common curly kale on the other hand has long stems and those unmistakable curls that are perfect for making kale chips. Siberian kale also has a larger leaf but is more tender and cold hardy. And then there’s purple kale.

Of course, the most identifiable difference between purple kale and other varieties is it’s striking vibrant color. Beyond that, purple kale is often kept as an ornamental plant and used in salads to add a bright punch of color. Purple kale also has a more robust, cabbage-like flavor than other varieties, making it a good option for hearty soups and stews.

If you ready to experiment with this fun leafy veggie that’s a departure from the norm, read on to learn more about purple kale and some recipes to try it out in.

How to Use Purple Kale

Essentially, you can bake, braise, saute, prep, and boil purple kale just as you would with any other variety.

With that said, if you’re looking to maintain that purple color, you might want to use your purple kale in a salad, since that color tends to fade as you cook the kale.

Prep Them For Soups, Salads, & Pasta

Whether you’re using kale raw in a salad or cooked down and marinated in a soup or pasta, you’ll want to properly prep your purple kale before eating.

Make sure to remove the stem, as they’re even tougher than most green varieties.

Braise or Saute Them

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Sautéed Purple Kale. You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen in order to eat healthy and stay strong. Whip this up in no time. Process: Wash 1 large bunch of kale and cut into small pieces, set aside. In a large pan set on low-medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of grape-seed oil, 1 finely chopped large white onion and 2-4 minced garlic cloves, optional 1 tbsp hot pepper flakes. Sauté for app. 7 minutes. Your kitchen will smell amazing at this point! Add the kale and stir frequently until leaves begin to soften. Do not cover with a lid since this will cause the kale to lose its’ beautiful vibrant green colour. Remove from heat, add salt/pepper to taste and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Option at this point is to sprinkle some freshly grated #parmigianoreggiano cheese on top. #purplekale #kale #freshgreens #healthy #saute #quickmeals #delicious #vegitarian #mealprep #yummy #workout

A post shared by Mary Chimienti (@mc.kitchen) on

Along with salad, a great way to enjoy purple kale as a side dish is to simply braise or saute them to perfection.

Sauteing kale is quick and easy and can be adapted to whatever sort of meal you’re putting together.

Bake Them Into Chips

If you have a lot of kale to use up or you’re looking for a healthy alternative to fried potato chips, you can transform your purple kale into chips!

Kale chips can be baked in the oven, or if you have a dehydrator, they’re easy to dehydrate and store for long-term use.

And if you time it right and don’t bake your chips for too long, you might even be able to maintain that bright purple hue!

Purple Kale Recipes

Again, you can basically substitute purple kale into any recipe that calls for some kind of kale. Just keep in mind that the flavor is a little more robust than the more familiar green kale.

Purple Kale Salad

purple kale salad

Of course, the best way to enjoy that purple color that this kale has to offer is to simply toss it in a salad.

Sweet and juicy gala apples balance out the robust flavor of purple kale, while toasted pecans add a nice overall crunchy element. Some fresh sliced strawberries and cucumbers would also be delicious in this salad!

Find the full recipe at Food52

Warm Purple Kale Farro Salad Bowl

purple kale and farro bowl

Heathy grains and nutrient-dense purple kale come together in this warm vegetarian salad bowl.

Juicy red cherry tomatoes add a nice burst of sweet flavor, while diced portabella mushrooms add some protein.

If you wanted to add some meat, some grilled chicken breast or salmon would work well! You could also serve this warm salad bowl with a slice of grilled tofu.

Find the full recipe at May I Have That Recipe

Blackberry Kale Smoothie

blackberry kale smoothie

If you aren’t already adding kale to your smoothies, here’s a recipe to change your mind!

When it comes to smoothies, you can pretty much toss whatever you have on hand in the blender, but if you want to perfect your smoothie-making skills, try thinking about the overall flavor profile, and avoid adding so many different things that you can’t identify a single flavor.

This smoothie calls for just peaches, kale, blackberries, blueberries, and some water and lemon juice. Mint is recommended as a garnish, but it would probably taste absolutely refreshing within the smoothie itself!

Find the full recipe at Food52

Cabbage, Carrot, and Purple Kale Latkes

cabbage carrot pumpkin kale latkes

More of a late season recipe, this is perfect for when cabbage, carrot, kale, and other fall veggies are all you have left growing in the garden.

Latkes are traditionally strictly made out of potatoes, but here, some healthier vegetables are mixed in, along with lots of herbs, to provide you with the same crunch and crispy texture that latkes are known for.

Find the full recipe at NYT Cooking

Kale Pesto With Whole Wheat Pasta

kale pesto whole wheat pasta

This recipe doesn’t call for purple kale in particular, but you could certainly substitute it in for the Tuscan kale that’s listed.

Just be aware you won’t get as bright of a green color that’s displayed in the picture here.

Pesto is delicious on top of pasta and toasted baguettes, or spread across chicken breasts and baked in the oven.

Find the full recipe at Bon Appetit

Purple and Green Kale Salad with Lemon Anchovy Vinaigrette

purple green kale salad

Here’s another purple kale salad that also incorporates green kale for a colorful salad that’s simple and easy to toss together.

Pine nuts are added for a nice texture while fresh basil and lemon add a bright citrusy flavor that contrasts with the semi-bitter kale.

If you want to up the protein content in this salad, roasted chickpeas or grilled chicken would complement the overall flavor.

Find the full recipe at Food Network

Vegan Tofu Kale Lasagna

tofu kale lasagna

Purple kales’ robust and semi-bitter flavor would work perfectly in this dish that’s flavorful and vegan-friendly.

Crumbled tofu is used in place of ricotta cheese, but if you have a favorite vegan cheese, you could definitely add it into the mix along with the tofu.

Find the full recipe at Welcome to the Table

Common Questions About Purple Kale

If you’ve never prepared purple kale before, you might have some questions about it, especially if you’re more familiar with it as an ornamental plant. We’ve addressed a few of them here, but feel free to chat with the produce department with any other questions you might have!

What’s the Difference Between Green and Purple Kale?

Compared to green or black kale, purple kale tends to have a more intense cabbage-y flavor, making it an ideal addition for hearty soups and pasta. And of course, purple kale features a beautiful, deep color that makes it stand out in the kitchen.

Additionally, purple kale features tight, ruffly edges that inspires many gardeners to plant it as an ornamental in large planters, garden beds, and entryways. When you go to the pumpkin patch in the Fall, keep your eyes open for purple kale. Chances are you’ll see it in large planters since it’s cold-hardy and beautiful!

Can You Eat Purple Kale?

Yes! Though purple kale is often used as an ornamental display alongside pumpkins and squash in the fall, purple kale is totally edible!

Does Purple Kale Stay Purple After Cooking?

When your cook fully-mature leaves, the purple coloring does fade a bit into a darker green color. If you want to maintain that color, use purple kale in a salad or smoothie.

What are the Nutritional Benefits of Purple Kale?

All varieties of kale are awesome for you! But purple kale in particular is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, dietary fiber, and potassium.

By: Leigha

LeighaLeigha is the Marketing Assistant at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op.