Kale is a member of the cabbage family that grows in loose bunches of leaves rather than heads. Types include curly kale, Russian red kale, and Tuscan black kale.
Sweetest if harvested after the frost, these deep green leaves are nutritional superstars bursting with the nutrients and phytochemicals. Kale is an excellent source of calcium, folic acid, vitamin C, and potassium source.
Curly kale has a green to light blue green leaf and a mildly sweet flavor with a resilient texture.
Tuscan kale, cavolo nero, or lacinato has dark green to dark purple-black leaves curled under and have a nubbly surface. It has a deep, complex, and mildly sweet flavor with a softer texture than curly kale.
Flowering or ornamental kale is pretty and frilly with light green leaves and cream color or pinkish purple stems. Its texture is firm and mainly used as a garnish. The leaves can be steamed or simmered in salted water.
Russian Red kale is light green with oak-leaf-shaped leaves and cream color to magenta stems. It has a firm texture with a deep, mildly sweet flavor.
Our Favorite Kale Substitutes:
1. Collard Green Substitute
Collard greens are in the same cabbage family as kale, mustard greens, and other hearty greens. The leaves are dark green, the stems are tough, and you should look for collards that have an even green color and look fresh.
Collard greens are a leafy green vegetable that come from the cruciferous family. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, along with folate, calcium and iron. The leaves are also rich in carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect against age-related eye problems.
Collards are typically cooked with some sort of fat or oil to help tenderize them and make them more palatable. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads, but they have a bitter flavor when eaten raw so it’s best to cook them first.
= 1 lb collard greens are an exchange for 1 pound kale
2. Callaloo Substitute
Callaloo is a popular Caribbean vegetable dish with many variants across the Caribbean. Callaloo is a leafy vegetable that grows in the tropical region. It is usually made from the leaves of taro and dasheen, but can also be made from spinach, callaloo leaves or other greens.
= 1 lb callaloo can replace 1 pound kale
3. Chinese Kale Substitute
Chinese kale or Jie lan is a leaf vegetable with thick, flat, glossy blue-green leaves with stout stems and florets similar to broccoli. It is popular in Asian and Chinese dishes. Chinese kale, also called Chinese broccoli, is a leafy green vegetable that is a cross between a cabbage and a kale plant. It is commonly used in Asian cooking, especially for stir-fry dishes.
= 1 lb Chinese kale is a substitute for 1 pound kale
4. Green Chard Substitute
Green chard was initially grown in the Mediterranean region. Chard greens look similar to beet greens, but unlike beets, the root of chard is inedible. The green leaves have a grooved, bumpy texture running up a colorful, thick stem. This green is full of nutrients and has a mild flavor that pairs with many dishes.
Green chard is a vegetable that is part of the beet family. Its leaves are usually eaten raw, but can also be cooked like spinach. It’s often used in Mediterranean dishes and is popular in Greek cuisine. It has a bright green color and can grow up to 2 feet tall.
= 1 lb green chard can be used in place of 1 pound kale
5. Turnip Greens Substitute
The tops of turnips are where you will find the dark leafy turnip greens. The greens of this plant are edible and utilized across many cultural dishes and used just like other lettuces and hearty leaves.
= 1 lb turnip greens can substitute for 1 pound kale
6. Mustard Greens Substitute
Mustard greens are relatives of kale, cabbage, and collard greens. The leaves come from the peppery leafy greens of the mustard plant, and they are popular in Chinese, Japanese, and Indian cooking.
= 1 lb mustard greens is a replacement for 1 pound kale
7. Spinach Substitute
Spinach varieties include flat-leaf or garden spinach, with small, flat, delicate pale green leaves, sometimes with two points near the tender stem and a mild bittersweet flavor.
The other variety is curly leaf spinach with large, wrinkled, dark green leaves and tough stems. It has a mildly bitter flavor and can be found in cellophane bags or frozen in the grocery store.
= 1 lb spinach can replace 1 pound kale
Is kale better raw or cooked?
Raw kale boasts the highest nutrient content, but studies found that steaming retained the most antioxidants and minerals.
What is the best way to eat kale?
Kale can be eaten either raw or cooked. Try kale steamed, sauteed, boiled in soups, braised or raw, as you would fresh spinach or cabbage.