I'm a fanatic for cold-weather greens, and kale is one of my favorites. It grows well just before the first frost and just after the last, making it seasonal in most places twice a year and available (if not local) almost all year round.
Kale grows into deep beautiful colors -- purplish red, glowing green and the warm blue lacinato -- that get more brilliant with cooking. It isn't as bitter as other winter greens. When cooked, the leaves hold their shape but go tender, making them perfect for long-simmering soups and stews.
Step 1: Wash and dry the kale
No matter how I'm using kale, I usually chop it. Here's what I do:
First I clean it by plunging the whole bunch into a big bowl of cold water. I then spread the leaves out on a large kitchen towel and roll them up into a cylinder. This dries the leaves and gives them a hospitable place to chill until I'm ready to use them.