No matter how I cook kale, the texture is always the same: a cheap woven shower curtain. Not that I've ever chewed a shower curtain, but I imagine it would be just as squeaky and fibrous as kale is when I'm trying to chew it enough so it won't choke me when I try to swallow it.
For some reason, kale just won't break down! It is like a cheap pair of polyester pants that you bought because they were affordable and serviceable, but they never wear out, so you can get something new and better (like woolen trousers from Banana Republic, or spinach, or mustard greens, or any other hardy green leafy vegetable, to mix my similes).
Yet I keep buying it every winter. I'm pretty sure the grocery stores put the kale front and center on November 1st, and my eager-for-autumn eyes (and belly) make me go, "Ooooh, kale!!!" out loud in the produce aisle, startling everyone within kale-admiring distance. It's such a dark green! It is curly and pretty! I am going to do as Mark Bittman does: slice that kale into ribbons and boil it, with a little southern flair of sauteed onions and garlic!
What do I get? Kale leather, with onion and garlic accents. I chew each bite for about two minutes and chase each bite with water so I don't die from kale asphyxiation. I tell myself that I'm getting all kinds of vitamins as I slowly spear each leaflet and lift it to my mouth. It's like a punishment. Somehow, I forget about this every year.
Last winter, I tried putting it in a smoothie. So much mouth sadness! Never again.
Now, kale is totally acceptable when it's been food processed into confetti and simmered in a roasted vegetable soup. I'm down with it as a soup thickener. Otherwise...it's sadness in a bowl.
Tomorrow, I'm making mustard greens. Like kale, they were a dollar; unlike kale, I won't use up half an evening trying to ingest them.
Do you have any tricks for softening up kale?