Sauteed kale is a fantastic, nutrient-rich side dish that's quick and easy to prepare, offering a bit of color and flavor to virtually any main dish. My sauteed kale recipe features rich olive oil, lots of garlic, a handful of cherry tomatoes for a burst of sweetness, plus a squeeze of lemon for brightness, and ready to enjoy in just minutes!
Kale, sauteed and on the table in just minutes...
We know that dark leafy greens are really fantastic for our health, and kale has become one of the most popular greens to incorporate into our diets in recent years.
It's no wonder that kale is one of our favorite “super foods” as it's loaded with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins A, C, K plus folate, not to mention is a terrific source of iron and calcium.
And while all of that is music to the ears of those of us trying to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible, kale also has a fantastic texture and inherently “earthy” flavor, plus super quick and easy to prepare and use in a myriad of tasty ways.
While kale can be enjoyed finely shredded up raw in salads, it's also fantastic to add to soups at the end of cooking to allow it to just sort of “wilt” into the soup.
Perhaps even sneak some kale into mouthwatering dips—check out my artichoke dip.
But one of my favorite ways to prepare kale is to saute it, and serve it as a colorful side dish.
My sauteed kale recipe is prepared in just minutes, especially if you use organic pre-cut or pre-shredded bagged kale, since it's already cleaned and ready for use.
Then it's simply about sauteing it with a few simple ingredients such as olive oil, garlic, cherry tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon for balance.
Sprinkled with some salt and pepper, perhaps even some freshly grated parmesan at the end, this sauteed kale makes sneaking in those dark leafy greens less of a chore, and more of an absolutely delicious experience.
My Recipe for Sauteed Kale with Garlic and Tomatoes
During my private chef days, I use to prepare sauteed kale for my clients as a side dish to salmon or halibut, grilled or roasted chicken, or even as an accompaniment to a cheesy casserole.
The clean, slightly acidic and savory flavor of olive oil, lemon, garlic, sea salt, cherry tomatoes and black pepper just tastes so good, and even helps to cut through the richness of some of these dishes.
That garlicky flavor is just so darned irresistible, and makes this healthy side dish that much more tempting, even for the folks who may not think they like kale!
Here's a sneak peek at my sauteed kale recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I add my pre-cut and washed kale to a large bowl to have ready.
- I heat some olive oil in a large non-stick skillet or pan, and once it's hot, I add in my cherry tomatoes, a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and some red pepper flakes (optional). I allow the tomatoes to saute in the heat of the pan just until slightly softened, but not mushy. When done, I remove them and set them aside for a moment.
- Next, I add my kale to the pan, add some more salt and pepper (kale can take a good amount). And while at first it always seems like a giant mound of kale, I use my tongs to move it around in the oil, and it very quickly begins to soften.
- After about 45 seconds to 1 minute, I sprinkle the garlic into the kale, add in the lemon zest and juice, and toss together to coat in the hot pan for a moment or two more.
- Once the garlic becomes aromatic, and the kale has softened and wilted a bit, I turn off the heat, check the seasoning to see if more salt/pepper is needed, then add in about half of my softened tomatoes and toss to combine.
- I then scoop the sauteed kale out onto a serving platter or into a serving bowl, top with the rest of the tomatoes, and serve drizzled with a bit of extra olive oil for silkiness. (You can garnish with shaved or grated parmesan at this point as well, if desired.)
by Ingrid Beer
This vibrant sauteed kale with garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and lemon is not only loaded with nutrients, but packed with delicious flavor!
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 148 calories per serving
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
- Olive oil
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- Black pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 10 ounces washed, pre-cut kale, any stem and stalky bits removed
- 3 large cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Place a large, deep pan or a pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle about 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add in the cherry tomatoes along with a pinch of red pepper flakes (if using), and some salt and pepper.
- Allow the tomatoes to sizzle and gently soften in the oil for about 30 to 45 seconds, then using a slotted spoon, scoop the tomatoes out and set aside.
- Next, drizzle into the pan or pot about another 2 to 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and add the kale (if your pan is not deep enough to accommodate it all, work in a couple of batches). Using tongs, toss the kale lightly in the oil for a moment or two to coat it, then add in the garlic, the lemon zest and a couple of good pinches of salt and pepper.
- Add the lemon juice then toss to combine, and allow the kale to saute for about a minute or two more just until barely wilted and crisp-tender, and still a vibrant green. Turn off the heat under the pan or pot.
- Add half of the tomatoes into the kale, and toss to combine. Check to see if additional salt and pepper is needed.
- Spoon the sauteed kale into a serving bowl, top with the remainder of the tomatoes, and serve hot with a bit of freshly grated parmesan over top, if desired.
Tips & Tidbits for my Sauteed Kale recipe:
- Organic, pre-cut and washed kale: When it comes to kale, I love how convenient those large bags of organic, washed, and pre-cut kale are. You can certainly use uncut, whole-leaf kale and cut it to your liking, while also removing the tough center rib, if you prefer. But truly, a bag or two of prepared kale makes for less chopping and less mess!
- Choose your favorite variety of kale: Depending on what I'm in the mood for, I'll typically opt for either classic kale (with the super curly edges) or Tuscan-style kale, which is darker and not quite as curly. Both are delicious and equally nutritious, but I'll typically use the curly version for sauteing. There's also a “baby kale", which you typically find in salads, but this one's best eaten raw and is just a little bit too delicate to saute.
- Don't over-saute your kale: While kale is heartier than something like spinach, it doesn't take long at all to wilt down in a hot pan. Because I'm looking to keep that fresh and slightly crisp texture, I actually don't saute for long, just until the kale becomes bright green and very lightly softens. Then, I immediately remove the kale from the heat. It will continue to soften as it sits in the serving bowl, so take care not to over cook it in the pan to keep some texture.
- Other add-ins for sauteed kale: If you'd like to make this side dish a bit more substantial and textured, nuts and seeds are terrific to add in. I'm a fan of pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds as garnishes, or sliced almonds, pine nuts and pistachios. And for a tasty garnish? Shaved or grated parmesan cheese is perfect.
- Reheating leftovers: To reheat any leftovers you may have of your sauteed kale, simple add a bit of olive oil to a skillet, and once hot, add your sauteed kale and warm through to your liking.