Unlike spinach and chard, kale leaves take a while to cook to a tender texture, and kale stems are nearly impervious to tenderizing. That’s why the first step in preparing kale is trimming the stems. The aim is not just to trim the stems below the leaves, but also to remove most of the stem from the center of the leaf, where it acts like a supporting rib.
To do this, lay a leaf upside down on a cutting board and use a paring knife to cut a V shape along both sides of the rib, cutting it free from the leaf. The kale shown here is black kale, a.k.a. Tuscan kale, lacinato kale, cavalo nero, or dinosaur kale. This blue-green kale is the variety Bill Telepan prefers for his recipe Black Kale with Ham, Garlic & Onion.
Watch a quick video for more tips on trimming kale, chard, and collards, and get a cool tip for tenderizing kale’s tough leaves.