Dinosaur kale has a plethora of different names, often referred to as Tuscan kale, Italian kale, or lactinato kale. Whatever your distributor or local market names it, you can rest easy knowing that they’re all the same thing. It’s easy to distinguish dino kale from regular kale too, as it has dark blue or even black leaves as opposed to curly kale’s iconic dark green hue. Luckily for health-conscious chefs, dinosaur kale isn’t lacking in the nutrition department; one serving has over 75% of your daily dose of vitamin C plus a boatload of fiber. On top of that, dinosaur kale is low in calories and has a nonexistent fat content!
If you select regular kale and dinosaur kale using the same criteria, you’re sure to end up with a sub-par product because dinosaur kale has its own rules and regulations that you should be aware of. First off, always chose kale with dark green leaves that have a slight blue or black tinge. Additionally, be on the lookout for any telltale signs of damage, so if you see any wilting or discoloration, steer clear. Give the stems a quick once over too; they should be crisp and well hydrated.
Once you kale makes it into your kitchen, loosely store it in your refrigerator to extend the shelf life. If kept in a plastic container, your kale should last about 5-7 days before going bad.
- Pro Tip: Kale is very hearty, so there’s no need to wash it before storing. For best results, only rinse it right before serving.
Dinosaur kale leaves are tenderer than other varieties, making them a particularly good choice for any dishes that call for braising or serving raw. If you decide to go with the latter route, we’d recommend slicing the kale into ribbons as opposed to serving whole leaves, as it makes it more palatable. That being said, dinosaur kale can still be utilized for most cooking methods, but keep in mind that it’ll have a shorter cook time. Interestingly, the cooking process clears out much of the bitterness in your kale, but if you find that it’s still not enough, try blanching! The quick change in heat is a surefire way to take off some of the edge.
A great ingredient is nothing if it doesn’t add up to a great dish. Luckily for chefs everywhere, dinosaur kale can confidently lead the way. To start, we’d recommend testing out a simple dinosaur kale salad. A diversity of textures can go a long way, so try throwing in some fresh avocado slices or nuts into the bowl! In terms of dressing, it’s hard to go wrong with a citrus vinaigrette, but dinosaur kale salads will play nice with creamier dressings too. For those who want to explore cooking dinosaur kale, a classic white bean and kale soup is the perfect jumping off point. The tenderness of dinosaur kale is perfectly suited to the dish and holds up much better than standard kale. Finish it off Tuscan style with some hearty sliced sausage and watch the bowls roll out of the kitchen.