Sauteed kale with garlic is a super easy Italian recipe that requires very few ingredients.
It’s one of those recipes that leaves you feeling so incredibly healthy that the double chocolate gelato hiding in your freezer suddenly seems 100% justified.
I’m not a fan of kale chips or most recipes that use kale per se. In fact, can’t we invent a different name to call this leafy green to rid it of all the negative connotations it carries?
However this recipe is one that I fortunately learned from my mom, and it’s one of the easiest Italian recipes I make. I’ve included a video below.
It makes a great side for a chicken or even pasta recipe, or you can make a huge batch and eat it as a standalone dish until your (or my) heart’s content.
There are different varieties of kale but the most common ones you will find in the store are curly and lacinato kale. My favorite is the curly kale because I like the texture. For a bit more color try grabbing some of the red kale that looks like the curly kale but has a beautiful reddish/purple color throughout it.
- Fresh Kale (any variety)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh Garlic Chopped
- 1/4 Cup Water
- Salt & Pepper (optional)
- Rinse and clean the fresh kale
- Roughly chop the kale into large bite size pieces
- Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil over medium heat
- When moderately hot, add the garlic and saute until it is fragrant (do not burn!)
- Add the kale and the water
- Cover and turn to simmer for 20 minutes or until the kale cooks down and is a vibrant dark green
- Serve warm
A few cooking tips from my kitchen to yours..
- I don’t like to cook my kale until it is mush. I like it so there is still some chew or crunch to it. I recommend that before turning off the stove and serving, take a bite and see if it is the level of tenderness you like.
- Never let the garlic burn – meaning it turns a dark tan/brown. This makes the garlic taste bitter and will not enhance the kale at all. Just start over and you’ll be grateful you did.
- Kale is high in Vitamin K which thickens the blood. Some people are on medication that is designed to thin your blood for health reasons, so if you are to stay away from food that thickens your blood, then this recipe is not unfortunately for you.
- If you like some kick to your food, try adding red pepper flakes – it goes great with the recipe. Add it during the cooking process so the heat blends well.
- If you are wondering why to add the water, well that is simple. The water helps create the steam that cooks the kale. If you add a bit too much water it might dilute the olive oil and thus weakening the flavor. If this happens, don’t worry, just drain some water and drizzle olive oil on top and toss/mix.
- I do not add salt or pepper to this dish, but if you must go ahead. If you want some saltiness, try adding some grated Italian cheese (Romano, Parmesan, etc)
Insight into Kale
Did you know that kale actually tastes better when it is grown in cooler weather? It’s true, it is less bitter and more robust in flavor. I wish I could say I’ve tasted the difference from my own garden but my first round of kale just didn’t think too much of me I guess and decided to hold back.
See, earlier this summer I tried growing some kale in my garden with high hopes of bounty pouring over the edges of my raised beds. I’m Italian crying out loud… I should have an amazing garden right? No such luck… or should I say no nutrients?
Instead I got 2 inch leaves that just seemed to go nowhere. Well I suppose my lessons in the garden are for another post…
How to clean Kale
Cleaning kale isn’t necessarily easy especially the curly kale. You have to make sure you really truly pay attention b/c little worms or critters can hide in those thick green leaves.
Therefore the way we do it at our home is to fill a large bowl with water (understand we always use distilled water to avoid the chemicals like chlorine and fluoride they put in the water supply). Add a few drops of Lugol which is used to remove bad residues and kills the insects – completely organic.
If you don’t have Lugol, then you can also add table salt and make sure it dissolves. Then soak the leaves for about 5 or 10 minutes and rinse it really well. Pat dry when done.
What to do with those thick stalks?
Well you won’t die if you eat them if that is what you are concerned about. What I do is chop them up into really small bits and either add them in or just add them to my compost pile. I also cut out the thick stalk all the way up the leaf – not just the bottom part. I cut the leafy part into the bite size pieces and then I chop the stalks into tiny pieces like I said. I can take them or “leaf” them.
Thanks as always for reading… enjoy your kale!