Sauteed Kale for Those Who Don’t Like It

April 17, 2012

Kale is pretty much the holy grail for health food eaters. But for you skeptics out there that don’t believe it can actually taste good, this recipe is for you. I won’t list of all of the nutritional benefits of kale here, but it really is one of the most nutrient packed foods out there. Just remember that when you fight over the last helpings of this dish.

Read more about kale in this NPR story.

For those of you who find Kale too bitter, try a different variety. Russian Kale, for instance, is naturally more sweet. Kale also becomes sweeter after a frost. If you can buy kale locally, try it again in the winter. For this recipe and picture, I used the widely available green curly kale.

Eater’s Note: Don’t feel any guilt preparing this dish with olive oil and butter. Your body needs the fat to fully absorb all the vitamin A and K found in kale. Plus, the fat gives the dish more flavor and keeps you full longer. But if you really want, you can use 1/2 tbsp butter and 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp chicken or vegetable broth.

Sauteed Kale for Those Who Don't Like It
  • 1 bunch kale (washed and dried - basic salad spinner works perfectly).
  • 1 tbsp butter (grass-fed or pastured if you can find it)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 -2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (or so) tbsp of finely grated parmesan cheese (optional, but recommended!)
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Remove kale leaves from tough outer stem (discard) and tear remaining leaves into smaller pieces.
  2. Melt butter and oil in a large skillet with high sides or a large pot over medium heat. The high sides will keep the kale from jumping out as it cooks down.
  3. Add the leaves (it will really pile up, but cooks down quickly).
  4. With a pair of tongs, rotate the kale from the bottom of the skillet to the top and the top to the bottom. This will help it cook down evenly.
  5. Cook 7-10 minutes until the leaves are wilted and tender. (See Cooks Note).
  6. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, cheese, salt, and stir to combine.
As you cook the kale you will see the leaves go from raw to bright green to dark green. The dark green is what you want. The longer you cook the more the bitterness will dissipate. I tend to cook 3-4 minutes more after I get the dark green color. Don't be afraid to really cook these guys, it is a hardy green and can take it. If you notice the leaves are starting to burn, reduce the heat and keep cooking until you get the taste you want. Try the kale during the different stages of the cooking process so you can get a sense of what you like.