There are many kale varieties out there, and lacinato dinosaur kale is one of them. What makes this particular kind of kale unique and how can you ID it at your local farmers market? We have these details and more below.
What Is Dinosaur Kale?
Dinosaur kale is also known as cavolo nero (Italian for "black cabbage"), lacinato kale, Tuscan kale, dino kale, or black kale due to its dark blue-green leaves. With long palm-like fronds, dinosaur kale is a dark green leafy vegetable from the Brassica family along with cabbage, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens.
Sweeter than regular kale, dinosaur kale is also so dense and cold-hardy that even after it's been cooked, it retains a firm, chewy texture that makes it perfect for high-heat recipes like flavorful stews. You can also consume both the leaf and the rib of this veggie, cooked or raw, making it perfect for use in the kitchen as a side dish or as part of the main course for dinner.
Cooking with Dinosaur Kale
Dinosaur kale can be prepared simply by sautéing it in olive oil or braising it in a shallow pan of water or broth. Once the curly kale leaves are clean, you can cut or chop them to your size preference.
If you find kale to be more bitter than you enjoy, blanching it by briefly immersing it in salted boiling water can cut down on that bitter taste and make it easier to use kale in your recipes. Because dino kale is slightly sweeter than regular kale (though red Russian kale is said to be the sweetest of all), if you cut down the bitterness, you're left with a sweet, slightly nutty, earthy flavor that makes for an excellent inclusion in a risotto, salad, or soup. Don't forget to use it in a delicious green smoothie as well (check out our recipes at the end of this article).
Dinosaur Kale Nutrition
Kale, spinach, and other leafy greens are well known to be highly nutritious, and dinosaur kale is no slouch in this sector. This variety of kale is ideal for weight loss, as it is both filling (thanks to its fiber content) and low in calories. As a potassium-rich veggie, it aids heart health by reducing the risk of an adverse cardiovascular event. As a strong source of nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, and iron, it supplies the body with superior absorption capabilities and antioxidant support.
Here are the numbers based on 16 grams of chopped, raw kale:
- Calories: 8
- Protein: 0.68 grams
- Carbohydrates: 1.4 grams
- Fiber: 0.6 grams
- Calcium: 24 milligrams
- Iron: 0.24 milligrams
- Magnesium: 8 milligrams
- Phosphorus: 15 milligrams
- Potassium: 79 milligrams
- Sodium: 6 milligrams
- Vitamin C: 19.2 milligrams
- Folate: 23 micrograms
- Vitamin K: 112.8 micrograms
- Vitamin A: 80 micrograms
Dinosaur kale is full of many nutritional requirements listed in the daily recommended intake for adults. But that's not all.
The antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid may help lower your blood glucose levels (important in the prevention of diabetes), and the chlorophyll found in green plant foods has evidence showing it may help prevent cancer by binding with harmful carcinogens before they can damage your health.
The combination of calcium and vitamin K helps contribute to bone health. And fiber, of course, is not only filling but also a boon to your digestive functioning and the health of your good gut bacteria. With 1000 times more vitamin C than spinach, kale also helps contribute to your immune system's strength and the suppleness of your skin and connective tissue, as vitamin C is used in maintaining your collagen supplies.
Where to Get Dinosaur Kale
If you have access to a farmers market or if the produce section of your local grocery store is particularly well-stocked, just look for the distinctive blue-green leaves of dinosaur kale. Make sure you select a bundle of stalks that is free of any wilted bits (and definitely avoid bunches that are dried, brown, or slimy as this means they are old and rotting). If you want to make kale wraps with them, select wide, cup-like leaves, but if you're planning to wash and chop them into another recipe, just go for the freshest bunch you can find.
If you have a green thumb, you can also grow your own dinosaur kale indoors or out. Just keep in mind that the seeds do best in cooler temperatures (from November to spring) so long as they get enough direct, full sun.
How to Make Kale Chips
If you do grow your own kale or want it to last as long as possible, making kale chips is a great way to preserve kale a little longer in a conveniently snackable way.
Minimalist Baker has the recipe, which includes:
- Preheating your oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit (107 degrees Celsius).
- Rinsing, ripping, and then seasoning your dinosaur kale for bite-sized bits (you can use oil and flavors like chili powder, curry powder, salt, nutritional yeast, etc.)
- Spreading your kale evenly over a baking pan so they're not overlapping.
- Baking your chips for 5 to 10 minutes until they are lightly crisped and golden brown.
- Enjoying immediately or storing for up to 3 days.
Uncooked stalks of dinosaur kale can keep for up to a week in the fridge before beginning to wilt. Many people wrap their loose greens in a moist paper towel before storing them in the crisper to help keep the veggies supple and fresh for as long as possible. Once cooked it's better to consume your veggies sooner rather than later, but also keep in mind that dinosaur kale can be blanched, prepped, and frozen in your freezer for up to a year. That means if you grow your own kale through the winter months, you can store it safely for use all through the summer until the growing season returns.
Top 5 Kale Smoothie Recipes
Here are some of our favorite smoothie recipes with kale so you can get your greens in on-the-go. Keep in mind that our own VeggieShake blend is made with natural whole-food ingredients, including kale, because the nutrition found in all forms of kale is undeniable. With further ado, here's a handful of our amazing kale recipes for smoothies.
With kale, peach, pineapple, orange, and lemon, this recipe is a vitamin C powerhouse that gives your green smoothie a fruity boost of immunity strength.
- 1/2 cup kale
- 1/2 cup peaches, frozen
- 1 cup pineapple, frozen
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 cup coconut water
- 1/2 cup Brussels sprouts, frozen
- 1 banana, frozen
- 1/2 cup kale
- 1 cup coconut water
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
With kale, spinach, and almond meal, this peachy keen smoothie is a great breakfast option for getting you energized with plant protein first thing in the morning.
- 1/2 cup spinach
- 1/2 cup kale
- 1/2 cup peaches, frozen
- 1/4 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon MCT oil
Matcha, made from green tea leaves, is consistently associated with living a longer, healthier life. With a little bit of caffeine for a mental pick-me-up and pistachios full of antioxidants, this kale smoothie takes greens to a whole new level.
- 1/2 avocado, peeled and seeded
- 1/3 cup pistachios
- 1/2 cup kale, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Many people find drinking their veggies easier than eating them. If you'd prefer a quick smoothie over making and chewing up a whole kale salad, this recipe may be for you. With spinach, cauliflower, and cucumber in addition to kale, you can have a salad in a glass (plus plenty of nutrient-rich seeds) and be done with it.
- 1 cup chopped and stemmed kale
- 1/2 cup baby spinach
- 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower
- 1/2 cup celery
- 1 Persian cucumber, cut into chunks
- 1/2 lemon, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1 1/2 cups chilled green tea
- 2 teaspoons chia seeds
- 2 teaspoons bee pollen
- 2 teaspoons ground flax seed
There are many different types of kale out there, each one unique, and yet all similarly nutritious. Sample the kale rainbow and find uses for each and every one!