Easy Tuscan Kale

This Tuscan kale recipe makes tender, sauteed kale scented with garlic! Also called Lacinato or dinosaur kale, it makes a fast and easy side dish.

Tuscan kale

Once you start cooking with Tuscan kale, you’ll never go back! This Italian variety of kale has a sweeter, mild flavor and is easier to prepare. Since it’s now fairly easy to find in grocery stores, Alex and I always recommend this variety to start with. Here’s a way to make it taste irresistibly good: saute it with olive oil and smashed garlic cloves for just a few minutes in a hot pan. In fact, Alex and I have been buying big bunches of Tuscan kale every week just so we can make this. Here’s how to prepare Tuscan kale: and a few other recipes to eat it!

What is Tuscan kale?

Tuscan kale is an Italian variety with a dark green color and mild flavor. You can also find it labeled as Lacinato kale, dinosaur kale, black kale, or cavolo nero (black cabbage in Italian). Why is it called dinosaur kale? Its “scaly” leaves almost resemble dinosaur skin! The leaves are very dark green and flat, compared to curly kale which has frilly, brighter green leaves.

The flavor of Tuscan kale is milder and sweeter than curly kale, which can taste bitter and spicy. Tuscan is easier to use in recipes since it’s less bitter, and its stems are more tender than the curly variety.

Tuscan kale

How to make sauteed Tuscan kale

One of the reasons Alex and I have been making this Tuscan kale on repeat is that it’s so easy. Tuscan kale takes only 3 minutes to cook! There are a few tricks to this recipe that take the flavor the top. Here’s how to make sauteed kale in under 10 minutes (or jump to the full recipe below):

  • Chop: Destem and chop the kale (see below). Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces.
  • Saute for 3 minutes: Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. We like to add smashed garlic cloves at the same time as the kale, which adds a nice subtle flavor. Saute the kale and garlic about 3 minutes, stirring often, until the leaves wilted and bright green.
  • Season: Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper. That’s it! Perfect sauteed Tuscan kale that works as a tasty side dish for any meal.
Tuscan kale

Mix-ins: adders to step it up!

This sauteed Tuscan kale is delicious as is: but here are a few ways to step it up a notch!

  • Toasted pine nuts: Pine nuts are used in Italian-style recipes as a garnish. While they’re a little pricey, they add a nutty flavor that can’t be easily replicated! Toasted pine nuts add a bit of glam (like in this Sauteed Rainbow Chard recipe).
  • Shredded Parmesan or Pecorino cheese: Just a little aged cheese also takes it up a notch! Pecorino Romano cheese is our favorite: and a little goes a long way. It gives a big hit of savory, salty flavor.

You can serve this Tuscan kale as a side dish, or make it part of a main! Add it to a grain bowl with a grain like quinoa or farro, a protein like chickpeas, & and lemon tahini sauce.

A few more recipes starring Tuscan kale!

There are lots of other ways to eat Tuscan kale! Here are our favorites:

How to chop kale

The only technique you’ll need to know to make this Tuscan kale recipe is how to chop kale! Here’s all you need to know about how to chop it into the bite-sized pieces needed for this recipe. We’ve also got a video: see below!

  1. Fold the leaves of the kale together and hold them with your non-cutting hand. Use a large chef’s knife to cut off the tough stem.
  2. Roll up a few kale leaves at once.
  3. Cut the kale into thick slices, using a circular motion with the knife. Rotate the slices and then chop them in the other direction to make small pieces. Repeat for all the kale leaves.

Tuscan kale nutrition

Lastly: why eat kale? So many reasons! Leafy greens like kale are some of the healthiest foods you can eat!

  • Kale is full of nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber.
  • 1 cup of raw kale has 33 calories, 6 grams of carbs (2 of which are fiber), and 3 grams of protein.
  • Because of its low calorie content, kale is among the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. Eating more of this cruciferous vegetable is a great way to increase the total nutrient content of your diet.
Tuscan kale
Tuscan kale vs curly kale: we choose Tuscan every time!

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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How to cook kale

Easy Tuscan Kale


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This Tuscan kale recipe makes tender, sauteed kale scented with garlic! Also called Lacinato or dinosaur kale, it makes a fast and easy side dish.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound or 2 bunches Tuscan kale
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Optional: Lemon wedges, shredded Parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry the kale leaves, then destem and roughly chop the kale.
  2. Smash and peel the garlic cloves.
  3. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the smashed garlic and kale and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently until wilted and bright green.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the kosher salt and several grinds of fresh ground pepper. Discard the garlic cloves and serve immediately. (If desired, you can add lemon juice or Parmesan: but neither are necessary with the sweet flavor of Tuscan kale! You may want to consider them if using curly kale.)

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Tuscan kale

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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