Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sauteed Kale

Kale is one of the super foods. Great, but do I want to eat it?

Yes, you do. Kale, of all the super food greens, is the most tasty and most versatile. It's not too bitter. It cooks fairly quickly but not so quickly that it turns to a grey-green mess in a few minutes. It has a great texture, nicely crunchy but not tough.

Kale is great simply sauteed in olive oil with a little garlic. With that basic recipe, you can go in a wide variety of directions. Add salty: olives, anchovies, bacon. Add sweet: raisins, currants, apple, pear. Add tart: some lemon juice and/or zest, a little vinegar-sherry vinegar is my favorite. Add spicy: crushed red pepper, Sriracha sauce, chile paste with garlic. Even, add a little of each! This is a vegetable that can stand up to big flavors and take them all. I have made kale with garlic, currants, sherry vinegar, and crushed red pepper. The picture above is kale with garlic, Asian pear, and crushed red pepper. Play with the flavors and discover what you like.

Kale holds onto dirt, so wash it well because no one likes grit in their greens. Fill a large bowl or your sink with cold water. Strip the leaves off the stems (the topmost part is usually tender enough to leave on) and dunk in the water. Swish it around a bit and leave for 5 minutes in the water. Here's the important part: lift the greens out of the water; don't dump the whole thing in a colander. The dirt will sink to the bottom and by lifting out the leaves, you get the greens without the grit.

Basic Sauteed Kale
(serves 3-4)

1 big bunch of kale, leaves stripped off stems and washed well
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Toss in the garlic slices. Saute for about 1 minute; do not burn. Dump in all the kale. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Toss around, cover, and cook for another 5-15 minutes. Great thing about kale - you aren't likely to overcook it.

Season with salt and serve.

Some possible variations (experiment!)
  • Use 1 tablespoon of olive oil to saute a slice of bacon, chopped, and proceed with recipe.
  • Add ½ tablespoon anchovy paste to olive oil when you add the garlic.
  • Add a small handful of olives, sliced or halved, at the end of cooking.
  • Add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar at the end.
  • Saute ½ tablespoon chili paste with garlic in olive oil.
  • Add a pinch of crushed red pepper or a teaspoon of hot sauce at the end.
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of raisins or dried currants at the end.
  • Add ½ an apple, pear, or Asian pear at the end.


  1. yet another perfect application for KFV verjus! Adds a touch of acidity AND a touch of sweetness! John likes it with a handful of currants thrown it and then garnished with pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil.

  2. Ah, but few of us are lucky enough to get a hold of KFV verjus!