Every week, Well+Good’s Prep School series gives a plan for a whole week’s worth of healthy dinners—with very minimal prep. This June, we’re devoting the whole month to seasonal produce, focusing on a different starring veggie each week. Here, a healthy recipe developer shares five easy kale meal ideas.
Kale is one of those foods that’s long been beloved by healthy eaters—right up there with oatmeal and smoothies. There’s a reason why this specific type of green has such a glowing health halo. It’s loaded with fiber, iron, and other nutrients, including a category of phytochemicals called glucosinolates, a group of compounds that help to support liver function and other important bodily processes.
But being the Queen B of greens is a double-edged sword. Kale’s popularity means that many healthy eaters are also a little burnt out on eating it. Healthy recipe developer and Eat With Clarity blogger Claire Cary is here to revive your love for kale.
Here, Cary shares one of her tried and true kale recipes, along with five easy kale meal ideas to help you repurpose the leafy green for dinner throughout the whole week. Like virtually all meal prep experts, she also recommends getting your protein squared away on Sunday too. Her personal preference is roasted chicken, but feel free to tweak her recipe and meal plan based on your personal preference and eating style. Ditto for her weeknight dinner ideas, which are purposely broad enough to be tweaked using ingredients you already have on hand and to fit your individual eating habits.
Quinoa bowl with garlicky kale and kale basil pesto
Yields 1 quinoa bowl (for Sunday dinner), plus 2 servings of garlicky kale and three servings of kale basil pesto (enough to use for other dinners throughout the week.)
For the pesto:
3 cups packed fresh basil
2 cup chopped kale
1 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cup raw almonds or pine nuts
4 cloves garlic
4 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (if dairy free)
1. Add all ingredients for the pesto to a food processor and process until smooth. You can make it as chunky or smooth as you like, but the flavors are best when it’s pretty well blended. Taste and add any extra basil, salt, cheese or lemon juice as desired.
2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and use a slotted spoon to add in the eggs.
3. Bring the heat back up to a boil and cook anywhere from seven to 14 minutes. Seven minutes will yield a soft-boiled egg, 14 will be hard-boiled. Once the time is up, add the eggs to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
4. While that is cooking, mince the garlic and add to a pan with the olive oil. Sauté for about two minutes, until garlic is slightly brown.
5. Add in the chopped kale, salt, and pepper and sauté for about five minutes or until the kale is wilted.
6. Assemble a bowl with a base of quinoa, then top with a serving of kale, one egg, pesto, and sliced avocado. Store the rest of the pesto in a glass salad dressing bottle in the fridge for up to a week. Store the remaining cooked kale in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to one week. Store your leftover quinoa in an air-tight container in the fridge as well.
Other foods to meal prep on Sunday
Two cups chopped kale: In addition to the cooked garlicky kale and the kale pesto, wash and chop two cups of fresh kale to be used later in the week. Store in a bowl with a paper towel over it to keep the moisture in. Place in the fridge.
Roasted chicken: Roast two large chicken breasts, so you’ll have it to use in a few different dinners later in the week.
Monday: Kale Pesto Pasta
Making a bowl of pasta that’s half noodles, half kale is a way to get the recommended fiber in your meal—without having to whip up a side salad. The only cooking required for this meal is boiling a serving of your pasta of choice. Once that’s done, combine it with a serving of leftover pesto, cooked garlicky kale, and sliced roasted chicken. Eat it hot or enjoy it cold like pasta salad.
Tuesday: Quinoa and Egg Stir-Fry
Since you already cooked your quinoa on Sunday, this dinner takes practically no time at all to make. Add a serving of leftover cooked garlicky kale to a skillet or wok with a little bit of oil. Add in any other chopped veggies you have on hand and cook until softened. Then, add in two eggs and quickly scramble them in the pan. Finally, throw in one up of cooked quinoa and as much soy sauce as you like for flavor, and toss everything until combined and warmed through.
Wednesday: Chicken Kale Pesto Salad
Tonight it’s time to make good use of the fresh chopped kale you prepped on Sunday. Massage one cup of pre-chopped kale with a serving of leftover kale pesto in a bowl. Let it sit for a few minutes to let the kale wilt and soften. Then, chop up half of one of your roasted chicken breasts and add it to the bowl. If you have any croutons on hand, add a handful of those as well for crunch. Chopped tomatoes also taste really good in this wrap, if you have any to include. In five minutes, you have an easy dinner that’s similar to a Caesar wrap, only with homemade kale pesto!
Thursday: Quinoa-Stuffed Sweet Potato
This meal does require baking a sweet potato in the oven at 425°F for 45 minutes, but that’s all the cooking required. (You can also microwave the sweet potato for five minutes, if you don’t want to wait 45.) While your sweet potato is cooking, combine a cup of leftover quinoa and a cup of uncooked chopped kale in a bowl. Add a half cup of your favorite beans (canned chickpeas work particularly well here, and you don’t have to cook them) and toss with balsamic vinaigrette. In a separate small bowl, whisk together some tahini, lemon juice, salt, and water to make a dressing. When the sweet potato is done cooking, split it and stuff the inside with the quinoa-kale mixture. Then drizzle the dressing on top and enjoy.
Friday: Roasted Chicken Pesto Tacos
Simply switching out your salsa and guac for your kale pesto will give your taco night a totally new taste. Take some corn or flour tortillas and fill them with leftover roasted chicken (diced or shredded), avocado, leftover kale pesto, chopped cilantro, and fresh lime juice.
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