Make Kale Dip Out of Leftover Stems and Surprise Everyone—Even Yourself

Make Kale Dip Out of Leftover Stems and Surprise Everyone—Even Yourself

By Joe Sevier, Joe Sevie, Sarah Karnasiewicz, Chris Morocco, Kendra Vaculin

I didn't need a pandemic to encourage me to try and cook every edible thing that comes into my apartment; but being home with dwindling ingredients and long stretches of time before I make another trek to the grocery store—or worrying that some produce I add to my online shopping cart may never show up—has certainly given me a reason to seriously consider if I'm doing all I can to make the most out of what I have.

Kale stem "hummus" is of my favorite ways to make something delicious out of an item that could easily end up in the trash. It's not actually hummus, of course, because it doesn't contain any chickpeas. But, a little tahini, lemon, and olive oil go a long way to give those stems a bright, round flavor that can make them into a surprising contender for your new favorite workday lunch.

To make the dip, you'll need to blanch the stems first. (Raw stems are too fibrous to make a kale dip with really great texture.) After you've torn the leaves away and used them in whatever dish you've used them in, you can store the stems in a resealable container for up to 5 days (depending, of course, on how long the whole kale had already been sitting around). Stems also freeze really well, and can be blanched straight from the freezer if you'd like to store them longer.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. The water should taste like the ocean—basically, salt it just as you would salt water for boiling pasta. Break or slice the stems into approximately 5-inch pieces and drop them in. Bring the water back to a boil and cook until the stems can easily be pierced with a fork and the fork can easily be drawn out of the stem when you scrape it off with the edge of the pot. This should take about 18 minutes. You don't want to cook them until the stems fall right off the fork; by then they'll be too mushy. Some of the thinner pieces may go that far; and some of the larger pieces may still seems a little tough—that's all fine. Basically, when you take a medium stem, you should be able to easily bite a piece off the end without fighting through a stringy mess. Some circles may call this al dente.

Save some of that blanching liquid, then toss the drained stems into a blender or food processor. For one bunch of kale stems, add ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup tahini, 1 peeled garlic clove, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon Aleppo or other red chile flakes, ¼ teaspoon ground cumin, and 4 to 6 tablespoons of the blanching liquid. Blend, scrape everything down, then blend again.