Roasted Kale Sprouts

Delicious kale sprouts, roasted in the oven, is an easy recipe that makes these fresh little sprouts take on a wonderful flavor with a crisp nutty texture.

For the longest time, we didn’t get kale in Paris. As the crinkly greens with the tough stems zoomed in popularity in the U.S., those of us used to, and craving, the rugged flavor of these branchés (plugged-in, or trendy) bunches, were out of luck. I remember chancing across some curly kale in a natural foods store over in the 5th arrondissement, and sweeping the whole shelf of it into a bag, stuffing it all inside, and bringing it to the register. The cashier looked at the bag, then looked at me, and said, “Vous êtes…américain, monsieur?”

Indeed I was. But now, Paris has firmly gotten on the chou kale bandwagon and although it’s mostly green curly kale you come across, you can sometimes find red kale and even Tuscan (lacinato) kale at outdoor markets, and even in some supermarkets as well as the frozen food chain, Picard. And, being Paris, where trends are often taken to the extreme, there’s even a Miss Kale café.

Much of it is due to Kristen Beddard, who made it her mission to get growers to plant kale, as she chronicled in her engaging and delightful memoir, Bonjour Kale. But I was surprised last week at my local market when I saw these tiny bunches of what looked like mini cabbages, or over-developed sprouts, and brought a bag home. I’d asked the vendor what they were called and he didn’t know. He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “les pousses”, an all-encompassing name for “sprouts.”

So I asked the internet (on my Instagram stream), and a few responded that they were Kalettes, and delicious when oven-roasted. Some said that they added a squirt of lemon juice just after roasting and another woman from Australia offered up that they were part of an “Aussi breakfast.” Another called them “snack crack.”

Noted food stylist and recipe developer, Susan Spungen, chimed in as well, mentioning to let them get close to crisp when roasted. I was intrigued and rifled through my teetering pile of hard-won vintage French gratin dishes, scored perhaps at some flea market?…grabbing the largest one, and went to work.

I drizzled my kale sprouts, as I’m going to call them, with Sicilian olive oil, sprinkled them with flaky sea salt, and added a few good turns of black pepper from my pepper mill.

The verdict? I loved these! They have the faint flavor of Brussels sprouts but not enough to stink up your kitchen, and the heartiness of kale, without having to chew on them forever. I roasted them just enough so the outer leaves were crunchy, but the sprouts were still tender inside, and I saw why someone said you could eat them for breakfast. I think I could eat them for every meal.

When I went back to the vendor the following week to get more, I didn’t see anyone else buying them, so I bought an entire kilo (a little over two pounds), for a price that covered a good portion of the rent on his stand that day. But they were worth it.

Roasted Kale Sprouts
Print Recipe
4-6 servings
A number of people chimed in, letting me know that these were referred to as kale sprouts, lollypop kale, kale-brussels sprouts, flower sprouts, and petit vert (プチベール), in Japan. They're best cooked until the outsides are crisp, but tender inside. For those who like kale chips, they could be cooked until completely crisp throughout, although they are messy to eat. I can't say where you can get kale sprouts where you live, and I was surprised to find them in Paris! Trader Joe's in the U.S. sometimes carries them, but you may need to do a little searching at your local greenmarket, farmers' market, or well-stocked grocery store, to find them. Variations include a sprinkling of Parmesan before or after roasting, a couple of cloves of finely chopped garlic, or red pepper flakes, to add a little heat. I've linked to some recipes and ideas after the basic recipe. Feel free to leave other ideas in the comments.
1 pound (455g) kale sprouts, rinsed and spun dry
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF (230ºC).
2. Trim any tough ends off the kale sprouts and spread them over a baking sheet, or in a gratin dish (or two), in an even layer. They can be touching as they'll shrink when roasted.
3. Drizzle the olive oil over the sprouts and season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast the kale sprouts in the oven on the lower third of the oven, turning them over on the baking sheet midway during baking, until they are cooked through and crisp on the outside, about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the sprouts. (Large ones may take longer.) I like them so they are tender inside, crisp outside.
4. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Serving: Although delicious on their own as a side dish, the kale sprouts are great served with a whole grain salad, such as one made with wheat berries, or alongside roasted meats or vegetables. One batch I made was served alongside sautéed fish filets with crumbled crisp bacon over the top.

These are also good is you finely grate Parmesan, or another grating cheese, over the sprouts when they just come out of the oven.

Related Recipes

Kale sprouts with bacon (Kalettes)

Kale Frittata

Kale sprouts with Parmesan and garlic (Steamy Kitchen)

Balsamic roasted kale sprouts (From a Chef’s Kitchen)

Spicy sautéed kale sprouts (Body Mind Freedom)

Kale sprouts (Trader Joe’s)

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  • Mike
    February 28, 2017 8:26am

    Which market in Paris, if you don’t mind my asking? Marché d’Aligre?

    I promise I won’t buy them all; it’s just that kale is the one thing my husband really misses since we moved here from California, and these sprouts sound like a great reward.

    • February 28, 2017 8:31am
      David Lebovitz

      They were at the Popincourt market. Two different vendors had them, although last time I went, it was down to just one.

      • Mike
        February 28, 2017 8:37am

        Thanks so much! Just a short walk from my metro line.

      • March 1, 2017 10:37am

        Thanks David :-)

      • March 17, 2017 10:38am

        Today (Friday) I was at the Popincourt market and there were two vendors selling them.

  • February 28, 2017 9:06am

    Kale recently showed up (locally grown) at the market in Carcassonne. But the leaves were big–almost like blettes. (Speaking of which, I just put out a recipe for using blettes, or Swiss chard, to wrap up little packages of cream, cheese and onions…yum).
    I haven’t had luck with kale chips. Too charred in some spots and too mushy in others.

    • june2
      March 3, 2017 2:36am

      ” Too charred in some spots and too mushy in others. ”

      Turn the heat down by half and leave in til crisp – will take a while but is worth it!

  • walk from my
    February 28, 2017 9:39am

    Taste of FranceFebruary 28, 2017 9:06am
    Kale recently showed up (locally grown) at the market in Carcassonne. But the leaves were big–almost like blettes. (Speaking of which, I just put out a recipe for using blettes, or Swiss chard, to wrap up little packages of cream, cheese and onions…yum).
    I haven’t had luck with kale chips. Too charred in some spots and too mushy in others. Reply

  • Janina
    February 28, 2017 12:06pm

    Here in Zurich, Switzerland, they are called flower sprouts. Apparently, they are a cross between Brussel sprouts and green kale. I find it funny that they are marketed under their English name, no German name was invented…

  • Jude
    February 28, 2017 12:08pm

    Oooh! I saw these for the first time ever last night, when I was desperately seeking kale for a planned stew. I’m in Geneva though, and they were crazy expensive so I slummed it with a green cabbage.

    Your blog seems to eerily predict whatever I need to know about food by the way, and I thank you for it. I first stumbled upon it/you when I was trying to recreate labneh after a year in Beirut. No matter what I do though, I never manage to get the stuff quite as tangy and delicious as it is there.

    I was led here again while trying to find ways of using the 1kg of za’atar (no exaggeration) I brought back with me from Beirut and again when trying to recreate manoushe.

    Then, on arrival in Geneva, I was intrigued by the insanely thick double cream and an online search again brought me here. Likewise when I was trying to find perfect recipes for fondue and celeriac remoulade.

    So thanks a lot, you seem to answer a lot of my food questions and I really enjoy your writing!

  • Victoria
    February 28, 2017 12:13pm

    I’ve never heard of kale sprouts — they would be fun to grow. My favorite way to cook kale is to sauté sliced garlic cloves in olive oil, then add kale and cook till barely wilted, sprinkle with red pepper flakes, lemon juice, salt. I think I got this recipe from the Golden Door Spa in California. The chef said to slice the garlic instead of chop so it won’t overlook and burn.

    • Eliza
      February 28, 2017 2:52pm

      Hi Victoria, just wanted to say that my friend grew them and they were easy to grow, largish plants, and the kalettes from them were very good.

      • Victoria
        March 2, 2017 3:13pm

        thank you!

  • Kristin
    February 28, 2017 2:32pm

    We love them. I’ve been buying them for the last two winters.

  • Inge
    February 28, 2017 4:39pm

    In Belgium they’re also sold as flower sprouts – and even by one of our leading supermarket chains. Also very yummy in risotto – I blanch them separately and add them at the end. They have also ended up in frittatas, or in pasta dishes – short shapes with a splash of sour cream, some garlic, cheese, and/or bacon… Haven’t tried to roast them yet but will now !

  • February 28, 2017 5:09pm

    Charming story, and I loved seeing your shout-out to Kristen and her book!

  • Caroline Chang
    February 28, 2017 5:11pm

    I’ve never heard of kale sprouts. I always learn fun new things on your blog. They sound delicious.

  • February 28, 2017 5:12pm

    I tried kale sprouts a little while back and I found them really dry and tough – I think this was because I pan fried them.

    These look much nicer, I’ll have to give it a try to roast them in the oven.

    Thanks for the idea David.

  • February 28, 2017 5:18pm

    I got a friend of mine to grow kalettes from seed in her community garden plot a couple years ago. They were super easy to grow, but she almost got kicked out of the garden because the plants grew rather tall and also were so heavy/huge they’d tend to fall over if you weren’t careful about pegging them. They also took a very long time to grow the actual kalettes and seemed to just produce an endless amount of large hearty leaves in the meantime. Totally worth the wait in the end because kalettes are fantastic to cook with.The plants were so impressive that all the passersby wondered what they were and would stop to chat. The kalettes drew a lot of attention to the garden. Still, after battling to keep them upright for months on end, my friend vowed to never grow them again. Not worth the risk of losing a garden, I suppose ;)

  • February 28, 2017 5:18pm

    P.S. I think kalettes are actually a cross between kale and brussel sprouts.

  • Gina
    February 28, 2017 5:24pm

    I can report that here in Ireland you’ll find them in all the supermarkets! Roasted with oil & caraway seeds is how I like them – great as a side dish with a smoked ham fillet (also available in any supermarket or butcher) as the caraway is slightly sweet. Carrot batons also very chummy additions.
    Irish butter will only enhance them more ;)

  • February 28, 2017 5:56pm

    It’s funny how easily others can “see” where we’re from just by the way we eat. I once ate a duck dish at a Korean restaurant where there was a little container at the tables used to collect the duck fat. After I was done I asked the waitress if I could take the fat home and she looked at me and said, “Are you Chinese?”

  • Jake Sterling
    February 28, 2017 6:04pm

    In 1987 I lived in Danmark from the beginning of February until late April. I was staying at a commune or “Produktion Kollectiv” as it was called. I asked once whether anyone ever ate lettuce in Danmark. I was met with that quiet scorn that Danes apply to anything not Danish and told that, of course the didn’t eat lettuce, it was February. But they had lots of Kale and brussels sprouts. All you had to do was go out to the field and dig them up out of the snow. The Danes insisted that freezing made them sweeter and more tender. Actually, I think they were right.

  • Alyson
    February 28, 2017 6:41pm

    We have had these available in Britain for two winters and they are grown in Lincolnshire. We love them just steamed. They look wonderful on the plate as they do what you want them to do, unlike unruly kale. But what’s this about chewing kale? We buy it from a farm shop and it’s very tender.

  • February 28, 2017 9:28pm

    My sole life purpose will now be to find these beauties in Edmonton! I am fairly certain I could eat them every day :D

  • Blanche
    February 28, 2017 11:09pm

    Which market in Paris ?!? I need to buy some this week !! Amazing discovery I am so excited to try

    • Blanche
      February 28, 2017 11:16pm

      I just saw your response in the first comment , of course we can find kale in the trendy 11th!! Love it

  • February 28, 2017 11:19pm

    I’ve only seen them this year, in my local Lidl, but have yet to try them. Your recipe sounds rather good, though.

  • February 28, 2017 11:21pm

    Those may be the cutest veg I have seen in a long time. I wish I could find those in Oakland .. recipe sounds fantastic, and really they are too cute!

  • Karen
    March 1, 2017 12:23am

    I treat them just as I do brussel sprouts. Following your recipe, add lardons, bacon, or pancetta, chopped shallots, and ten minutes before roasting is done, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and continue roasting. Completely addictive!

  • claire
    March 1, 2017 1:20am

    Last winter the Cambridge, MA Trader Joe’s had kale sprouts for several months. I bought 3 or 4 bags every week: they were SO good. This year I haven’t seen them anywhere. So I am jealous & drooling over this post. Even my husband, who has to be tricked into eating more than 1T of greens, loved them.

  • leslie green
    March 1, 2017 1:33am

    I haven’t seen them at my farmer’s market but will start asking around. I’m guessing that they will have them at Ferry Plaza Market in San Francisco. Time to go to the city. They look so delicious. Thanks

  • Catpainter
    March 1, 2017 2:59am

    Roasted kale sprouts are excellent tossed with Cara Cara orange jewels, marcona olive slivers Balsamic and good olive oil and the juice from the orange leavings (from which you jeweled the orange) and piled atop a healthy schmear of olive oil-thinned roasted black garlic, for a dose of umami in a room temp salad.

  • queen
    March 1, 2017 3:49am

    Found these in TJ’s in Centreville, VA last year. Bought numerous bags over several weeks. Haven’t seen them this year, though. I like to stir fry them in sesame oil and whatever seasonings fit my fancy at the moment. SO, SO GOOD!

  • Danubia
    March 1, 2017 9:16am

    Thank you for this, Daveed…

    I grow them from seed here in my potager in the Basse Cevennes. No problem.

  • Kate
    March 1, 2017 1:10pm

    I’ve seen them here in the UK in a couple of large supermarkets as Kalettes. I find them a little lacking in flavour compared to most other green veg, but they are certainly quick and easy to prepare, and the roasting method should add some flavour. Cooking them in a wok with mashed-up fermented bean curd to make a sauce also is a great for them.

  • witloof
    March 1, 2017 6:09pm

    I practically live on Tuscan kale. I put it on a sheet pan, sprinkle it with nutritional yeast and olive oil, and bake it for 15 minutes at 350. I have never seen these sprouts, but perhaps I’ll find them at the Union Square Greenmarket this spring.

  • Susan Cohen
    March 1, 2017 7:17pm

    I am very lucky I can get these regularly in late summer from a vendor, or two, at one of my local farmers market. We love them roasted, too.

  • carol w.
    March 2, 2017 12:17am

    I live in Tuscany, but have never seen them in my area.

  • Kay Graham
    March 3, 2017 8:04pm

    I grew them in my garden in Pennsylvania. I let them go to seed and they reverted to a red large leaf kale ( no sprouts) the second year.

  • March 3, 2017 9:13pm

    Oh yeah, those are totally crack! I, too, could eat them for every meal. They look fantastic, David!

  • Amy
    March 4, 2017 4:32pm

    Purchased on the stalk at the farmer’s market this morning, where they were lined up next to the brussels sprout stalks. Briefly braised and easily the best thing I’ve eaten this week, though pricey as all get out!

  • Lindsay
    March 5, 2017 3:36am

    i found kale at the nation monoprix last summer! but then it took a bunch of cashiers to figure out what it was (“non, chou kale!”), held up the line forever…

  • Abhaya
    March 7, 2017 6:35pm

    Available here in Portland at the Beaverton Farmers Market….quite addictive!

  • Ttrockwood
    March 8, 2017 5:29am

    I was buying these often last year from trader joe’s, perhaps they’re not back in season yet.
    My favorite preparation was definitely roasted with a mix of toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic. When done i would garnish with some chopped roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, and chopped scallions. And then i would eat a whole pile of of them over plain rice so it could catch the flavorful drippings

  • Lydia
    March 10, 2017 12:59am

    Here in London I used to find them at my local farmer’s market, where they were called kale sprouts.
    Recently I’ve seen them at my supermarket, where they’re called kalettes. This week I stir-fried them with ginger, garlic, soy sauce and fish sauce and they were delicious!