Greens Galore: 6 Kid-Friendly Kale Recipes (So Good, They'll Ask for More) 

Photo by Jill Chen / Stocksy United
Photo by © Jill Chen/Stocksy United


I scream, you scream, we all scream for… kale? That’s right! Just whir it into a cheesy pesto, bake it into cookies, or crisp it up for chips, and we promise the whole fam will be chanting, “All hail the kale!”

Hearty, bittersweet winter greens like kale, chard, and collards are ripe for the picking now and throughout the chilly months. These dark, leafy veggies come loaded with nutrition that’s a boon to growing and grown-up bodies alike: Dietary fiber, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K are all in there, plus a pile of beneficial minerals and antioxidants. Winter greens are also super versatile—they’re delicious as the star of a recipe and a cinch to sneak into dishes even a picky toddler will love. 

To give you a leg up onto the winter-greens bandwagon, we’re sharing the recipe for a scrumptious cheesy, bread-pudding-style “stuffing” that could add some fresh, flavorful flair to your Thanksgiving spread (note: it makes a great entrée for vegetarians!). And after that, we offer 5 more anytime kid-friendly ways to go (winter) green. Dig in!

Cheesy Winter Green “Stuffing”

 Yields: Approximately 8 servings

Total time: 45 minutes, including prep

 INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces whole wheat or sour dough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes. Use a bread loaf that is whole, not pre-sliced.
  • 8 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
  • 4 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 ounces sliced wild or regular mushrooms
  • 2 cups chopped kale (or spinach)
  • 1 cup chopped Swiss chard leaves
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 leek (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup Swiss chard stems, diced
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with butter and set aside.
  2. Combine the bread, Swiss cheese, and half of the Parmesan in a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender and lightly browned, about 4–5 minutes. Add the kale and Swiss chard leaves and continue to sauté until the greens are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and greens to the bread-and-cheese mixture.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the egg until just blended.
  5. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and then add the leeks and chard stems—blanch for 1 minute. Drain well and add to the mixture in the large bowl.
  6. Add the milk and cream to the small saucepan and place on the stove over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat.
  7. Whisking vigorously, slowly add ½ a cup of the hot milk to the egg. Pour the egg-and-milk mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the hot milk and whisk until blended.
  8. Add the egg-and-milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix it all together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Transfer the stuffing mixture to the prepared baking pan, pressing down gently on the surface.
  10. Bake until the stuffing is set, about 15–20 minutes.
  11. Remove the stuffing from the oven and unmold onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and place under the broiler until golden brown, about 20 seconds. Enjoy!

In our centers, we embrace family-style eating—encouraging children to serve themselves teaches them important social skills (like passing items, sharing, being patient, saying “please” and “thank you”) and how to listen to their own hunger cues. Allowing them to get in on the serving action can also inspire them to try new foods—like winter greens!

 With so many dishes to choose from, Thanksgiving is perfect for a family-style meal. Sure, there will likely be some spills when children take the lead serving themselves, but also lots of smiles.

 5 More Ways to Go (Winter) Green

  1. Crispy-Crunchity Kale Chips: Ensure your first (or next) batch is flawless with these kale-chip tips from the wildly popular Oh She Glows blog.
  2. Creamy, Dreamy Collard-Green Pesto: Keep it basic by tossing this flavorful pesto from the Food Network’s Sunny Anderson with whole-wheat linguine and a sprinkle of Parmesan on top, or serve it with Anderson’s zesty chicken meatballs for a little more heft.
  3. Hearty, Comforting Chard Soup: Chopped chard makes a tasty addition to all kinds of soups, especially ones that include beans or lentils. We like the look of Giada De Laurentiis’s filling white bean and chicken chili, Smitten Kitchen’s sausage and lentil soup, and Food & Wine’s chickpea and potato stew
  4. Decadent Kale Cookies: These chocolate chip delights from the book Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please are a treat you can feel good about eating.
  5. Sweet Green Ice Pops: During the dark days of winter, these kale-infused popsicles from Weelicious (can also use chard or collard greens) are a ray of sunshine—simply enjoy them in front of the fireplace!
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