Better Than Broccoli: Kale Buds

What do you do when your kale begins to bolt? Keep eating!

I’ve made two meals, so far, from two kale plants trying to bloom in one of my raised beds. The buds, along with the thin, flexible stem tips that bear them, are sweet, tender, and not at all bitter. I leave the little leaves attached, because although kale leaves get smaller as they rise up the stalk, they don’t grow tough and bitter like bolting lettuce, but instead stay sweet and tender.

Kale is much less like lettuce than like broccoli, which is supposed to form buds before we eat it. But I think kale buds taste better than broccoli, even if the broccoli is fresh and homegrown.

Here you see kale buds in a stir-fry with beef, onions, and Purple Haze carrots. I also like bolting kale simply steamed and served with drops of tamari.

About Linda Ziedrich

I grow, cook, preserve, and write about food in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
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11 Responses to Better Than Broccoli: Kale Buds

  1. danitacahill says:

    I planted some red kale before the March snowstorm hit. It weathered through just fine. When it starts to bolt this summer, I’ll give the buds a try. Thanks for the suggestion. I normally just pull up the plants and toss them in the compost.

  2. Sean says:

    I lurv kale blossoms. So mustardy and fresh.

  3. Sheila says:

    I just planted my kale! It’s been crazy weather, had 70’s in 3rd week of March but then it got cold again (was 24 one night last week) and snow on March 1 and 31, but little to no rain for months (and not much snow this winter). Trees are budding early due to that warm spell, maybe we won’t have any more freezing temps but I really don’t know when to put out the tender annuals (do I date before our traditional Memorial Day date?). Just hoping I can get some cool-weather crops in now before it heats up too much.

    I’m looking forward to the kale buds – maybe I can even get my kids to eat it (broccoli is the only green veggie my daughter will eat)!

  4. tucker says:

    That stir fry looks delish!!!

  5. Ken Mau says:

    I just found kale [ seed plants] at our garden store and Thank you for all the info, now I got to try it, I have had very good luck with growing broccoli and we eat all that we grow , my garden do not get a full day of sun because of trees

  6. Ting says:

    We love kale blossoms!

  7. Monica Jaress says:

    After some serious overdoses of kale in the early seventies, I didn’t try kale again until last year when I planted some red winter kale last fall. It was good, but as we got into winter, one plant continued to thrive, and I ate it through winter, sweet and tender all the way. Now it’s about 4 feet tall. Last night I sauteed a little garlic, added a little water and steamed the bud stalks – wow, much better than broccoli, great with polenta and pinto beans.

  8. Pingback: Keep eating « Allotment Adventures with Jean

  9. I love kale flowers/buds! I totally agree with the broccoli comparison – I substituted kale flowers for broccoli in a spicy Chinese dish with scallops and it was great.

    http://eatlocal365.com/2012/04/16/why-buy-d-i-y-chinese-takeout-edition/

  10. fresaichigo says:

    I’m so glad I found your article. Some of my purple kale is starting to bolt and I was wondering what to do about it. It’s amazing how much the buds resemble broccoli. If I pick the buds off, will the plant still continue to grow and produce more?

    • Yes, your kale will continue to produce more buds for a while, especially if you keep it from flowering. But the plant’s goal at this point is to produce seed and then dry up and die. I don’t think that you can trick the plant into continuing to produce buds all summer.

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