Mediterranean Meals: Kale Dishes Throughout Europe

With so many over-enthusiastic fitness bloggers and Instagram models, we’d forgive you for thinking that kale is a strictly an American vegetable. In reality, the hearty winter green has been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean for thousands of years, which has naturally resulted in some fantastic regional dishes throughout Europe. Show your cultured side by offering one of these regional favorites on your menu today.

Tuscany: Ribolita

Kale and Tuscan cuisine go way back (there’s even a variety called tuscan kale) and their love affair continues to shine in ribolita. A classic Tuscan stew, ribolita combines a ton of kale with other vegetables and herbs for a vegan friendly main course that allows the inherent flavor of your fresh ingredients to shine. Interestingly enough, this dish utilizes many different cooking methods, so it may not be the best option if you’re in a rush. 

Rome: Roman Kale Pizza

If you’ve ever had a fresh slice of roman style pizza, you know that it’s an entirely different beast. First off, it’s rectangular rather than round, and generally uses a focaccia style crust rather than traditional pizza dough. The topping game is seemingly never ending when it comes to pizza, but we find kale to be an appropriately dependable green to add to a variety of pies. To start, try pairing kale with pesto and Italian sausage.

Portugal: Portuguese Kale Soup

For chefs wanting to use tuscan or dinosaur kale, a hearty Portuguese kale soup is an excellent jumping off point. Unlike other vegetarian forward soups, portuguese kale soup isn’t afraid to lay on the meat; the best variations include a heavy helping of fresh linguica or chorizo. Serve with some sangria to set your customers up for a perfect siesta. 

Ireland: Colcannon

When it comes to potato recipes, don’t mess with the Irish. A traditional dish in Dublin and beyond, it combines creamy mashed potatoes with fresh greens to create a multicolored, simple side dish. To create this dish, simply added sautéed kale to your mashed potatoes, stir, and top with butter. 

  • Pro Tip: If you don’t want to use kale, consider using cabbage or collard greens.

Greece: Greek Kale Salad

Kale salads don’t need to be boring. Substituting kale into a classic greek salad can help tamper out some of the tougher aspects of kale, but be sure to tear your kale into ribbons beforehand to make them more palatable. In terms of toppings, plump kalamata olives and sun dried tomatoes are your best bets. Dress with a citrus based tahini for a hip European side. 

France: Kale Ratatouille

A modern take on a traditional dish, kale ratatouille is proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Historically, ratatouille combines tomatoes, garlic, zucchini and eggplant into one ultra smooth stew, but a touch of kale can help bring a little crispness to the plate. When sautéing your kale, use more than you’d expect, as it tends to shrink down a lot during the cooking process. That being said, be careful not to over do it, as too much kale can add some unwanted bitterness to your dish.