Sauteed Kale with Pancetta

By Ann Fulton

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A nutritional powerhouse, kale is truly one of my all-time favorite vegetables and I find ways to put it in everything from soups and salads to frittatas.  Simply sauteing with a little garlic and onion is a quick and delicious preparation and a superb salad substitute.  Adding a small amount of pancetta will add a smoky, bacon-like flavor to the kale while detracting very little from its inherent virtuous qualities.

Sauteed Kale with Pancetta
  • 1 bunch kale, preferably dinosaur or lacinato
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or just enough to oil your pan)
  • 1 small onion, sliced or chopped
  • 1-2 slices pancetta (about 1/4″ inch thick), diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
  • a few grates of fresh nutmeg
  1. Chop the kale, separating the stems so that you can cook them first.
  2. In a large saute pan or cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and pancetta over medium-high heat until the onion starts to soften and the pancetta gets a little crispy. Stir in the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.  Add the kale stems and cook until they begin to soften.  Then add the chopped kale leaves and continue to saute, turning so the top layers rotate to the bottom of the pan and all the leaves start to wilt.  Dinosaur or Lacinato kale have tender leaves and do not require a long cooking time.  I like to remove the pan from the heat while the leaves are still bright green and before they are completely wilted.  If desired, sprinkle a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg over the top.
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  1. LAURA

    I had bought some organic curly kale recently not knowing exactly what I was going to make with it. Saw this recipe and decided to try it! I think the curly kale variety might not be as tender as the other kale varieties mentioned here, so I cooked the cut up kale leaves (skipped using the stems) in a separate pot in a little water till tender before adding it to the saute pan. I also did not have pancetta on hand, so I used 2 slices of meaty bacon instead. I thought this turned out great! What a delicious and tasty side dish. Can’t go wrong with olive oil, garlic, onion, and pancetta as your base. Very easy and will definitely make it again!

    1. Ann Post author

      Wonderful, Laura! You are right, curly kale is somewhat more fibrous than Tuscan and some of the other varieties. Cooking a little longer (or steaming in some water as you did) is a great solution to reduce the chewiness. Your pancetta sub was perfect and I’m delighted this is a keeper!

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