Making tender kale without overcooking or having it swampy

 

Garlic, chopped onion and red pepper flakes add flavor to kale in this recipe from America's Test Kitchen.

Garlic, chopped onion and red pepper flakes add flavor to kale in this recipe from America's Test Kitchen. Photo by: Carl Tremblay/America's Test Kitchen via AP

 

America's Test Kitchen

 

 

Kale is among the most nutrient-dense of all vegetables, but it can be difficult to turn the hearty green tender enough to enjoy. We wanted a simple approach to producing an abundance of tender kale without overcooking the greens or leaving them awash in liquid. 

 

We started with a generous 4 pounds of kale. To fit them in the pot, we sauteed one-third of the greens before adding the rest in two batches and covering the pot. In less than half an hour, the greens had almost the tender-firm texture we wanted. 

 

We removed the lid to allow the liquid to evaporate as the greens finished cooking. For flavorings, we added a substantial amount of garlic and chopped onion for aromatic character, and a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat. 

 

A squeeze of fresh lemon juice balanced the dish. For the best results, be sure the greens are fully cooked and tender while covered before moving on to removing the lid. 

 

 

 

GARLICKY BRAISED KALE 

 

Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes 

 

Servings: 8 

 

 

 

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

 

1 large onion, chopped fine 

 

10 garlic cloves, minced 

 

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

 

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth 

 

1 cup water 

 

Salt and pepper 

 

4 pounds kale, stemmed and cut into 3 inch pieces 

 

1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning 

 

 

 

  • Heat 3 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to simmer. 

     

  • Add one-third of kale, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 2 to 4 minutes. Repeat with remaining kale in 2 batches. Continue to cook, covered, until kale is tender, 13 to 15 minutes. 

     

  • Remove lid and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most liquid has evaporated and greens begin to sizzle, 10 to 12 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Season with salt, pepper, and extra lemon juice to taste. Serve. 

     

  • For braised kate with coconut and curry: Substitute 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon curry powder for red pepper flakes, and 1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk for water. Substitute lime juice for lemon juice, and sprinkle kale with 1/4 cup toasted and chopped cashews before serving. 

     

    Nutrition information per serving: 216 calories; 109 calories from fat; 12 g fat (20g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 396 mg sodium; 23 g carbohydrate; 9 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 11 g protein.

     

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