Healthy, Tasty, Green: Sauteed Kale

Now here’s a dish that would have been received with cries of dismay and I daresay outright refusal to taste it when the Offspring were young children: sautéed kale. I won’t pretend that my kids enthusiastically tried everything I set on the table back then, or that there isn’t some lingering pickiness selectiveness that still may surface from time to time.  However, I do like to think that if I served this today they would a) try it, and b) like it, maybe just a little. (My, what a ringing endorsement of the dish I’m about to present!)

I was a latecomer to kale, and have learned that not only is it incredibly good for you, being a superstar of the nutritionally kick-ass (such language in the kitchen!)  brassica family, but it is the downright meatiest green vegetable I’ve ever tried. I won’t go into its health benefits, as you can find all sorts of information about it out there on the www, but suffice it to say they are many and impressive.

Sometimes I add chopped kale to soups, but I also like it sautéed. Here’s how I went about making it the other evening. As you’ll see from the photos, a generous bunch cooks down into a healthy side serving for two. One that was favourably received by my Culinary Enthusiast, by the way.

Sauteed Kale

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 or two cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red chile pepper, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a tablespoon or two balsamic vinegar

Start by slowly caramelizing the sliced onion in the olive oil, in a large skillet over medium to low heat. Once the onion slices have turned golden and are starting to brown, add the garlic and chile pepper, and keep the heat on low (be careful not to let the garlic burn).  This is a good time to add a healthy dose of freshly ground pepper.

While the onions are doing their thing, trim off most of the kale stems, and finely chop the remaining two or three inches. Chop the leafy part into strips about a half inch wide. Rinse the greens in a colander, and don’t worry about shaking all the water off as this assists in the cooking process.

About 10 – 15 minutes before serving time, add the kale to the sautéed onion mixture. It will be mounded up over the top of the pan and look like far too much! Using tongs and being careful not to let kale scatter all over the stove, gently turn the kale and onion mixture together. It will gradually cook down to a mere shadow of its former bulk. If it seems too dry, you can add a bit of water but this likely won’t be necessary. Near the end of the cooking time, add the balsamic vinegar to taste and check for seasonings.

The resulting dish is very flavourful, the dense and chewy green goodness of the kale complemented by the rich caramelized onions and zippy garlic and chile. The balsamic vinegar adds sweet tartness and a great finish to the dish.

If you haven’t tried kale yet for its nutritional properties, you can at least add it to dinner in honour of St. Patrick’s Day for its intense green colour alone!


  1. This sounds like a delicious way to serve kale. Well, anything with caramelized onions just has to be good. Like you, I came late to the kale party — but I got here! I’m a steady customer now.

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