Don’t call it a craze. Kale deserves a seat at the table of some of the most familiar food formats. It’s a great addition that boosts nutrition and flavor in ordinary pantry staples and livens up basics from drab to fab.

The farmer’s market is a Saturday morning institution that kick-starts my upcoming week and fuels my Instagram craze all at once (all about that #thenewhealthy). Although I’ll occasionally stock my basket with impulsive, unique finds (where else would I find pink oyster mushrooms?), there’s a tried-and-true purchase that routinely fills my bag first; two bunches of lacinato kale. While that may read as a hefty load of leafy greens for someone who lives solo, kale has become a powerhouse staple that can transform itself multiple times over and go beyond salad.

Credit: Photo: Caitlin Bensel

When I head back home- after I get snapping the perfect tote bag pic out of the way- I’m craving nothing more than a simple dressing for these hearty greens that packs a super umami punch and sneaks in a few extra Omega-3’s. If I don’t end up making a big batch of this I can usually repurpose extra leaves into a savory toast the next morning, and maybe improvise a little with those pink oyster mushrooms from earlier.

If I’m feeling a little extra ambitious—I’ll blanch the kale and turn it into a smooth utilitarian pesto.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

I can use it in so many different ways for days on end. It works perfectly as the star component in pasta salads, or as a sneaky, subtle base for pizza. Sometimes I’ll be the cool kid at brunch and swirl a spoonful into soft scrambled eggs or creamy polenta. It can be used as a swap for mayo in a tuna salad (with some avocado to reinforce creaminess) or to dress a bit of smoked salmon for a tasty tartine.

The possibilities are endless. Let kale elevate a humble plate into something greater and tastier, and chalk up another point towards your health.