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Sautéed kale with garlic and parmesan makes an easy, flexible, and super-savory side dish for a wide variety of meals. Don’t miss it.

sautéed kale with garlic and parmesan in a white bowl
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Why we love this recipe

Having a nice list of easy, all-star vegetable side dishes in your repertoire will get you pretty far in life. This savory, satisfying sautéed kale with garlic and parmesan easily makes the cut. It’s:

  • Full of bold flavors that stand up to kale’s natural assertiveness
  • Well-balanced — savory, earthy, and a little bit spicy
  • So quick and easy to make
  • Flexible — goes with a wide variety of main dishes

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • This recipe works equally well with curly or lacinato kale (also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale or cavolo nero). Choose whatever looks best at the market. Kale is at its peak in the colder months but is good any time of year.
  • I’ve pictured olive oil, which complements kale nicely. You can use butter instead if you like, to change up the flavor profile a bit.
  • The red pepper flakes are optional, though I think a little touch of heat adds a lot of dimension. You can use as little or as much as you like.
  • Choose a good-quality, freshly grated parmesan cheese. It adds a ton of savoriness to this simple dish.
  • Not pictured: I like to drizzle the final dish with balsamic glaze, as shown in the video. The sweetness really complements the bitterness of kale. Or you can stir in a tablespoon of regular balsamic vinegar toward the end of cooking.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a satisfying batch of sautéed kale with garlic and parmesan. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. First you’ll cook the garlic in the oil. Adding the red pepper flakes at this stage helps bloom their flavor and infuse it throughout the dish.
  2. Add the kale — it will look like a lot at first.
  3. Sauté, stirring very frequently at the beginning, until kale is tender and dramatically reduced in volume.
  4. Off the heat, stir in the parmesan and drizzle with balsamic glaze. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

What should I serve it with?

This recipe makes a lovely accompaniment to a wide variety of meals. Kale complements chicken, beef, pork, and black beans especially well. It’s also great simply tossed into some cooked pasta.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

This dish only takes a few minutes to cook, so I like to make it shortly before serving. You can prep all the ingredients up to about 24 hours in advance. Leftovers will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.

More favorite sautéed vegetable side dishes

sautéed kale with garlic and parmesan in a white bowl

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sautéed kale with garlic and parmesan in a white bowl
4.86 from 7 votes

Sautéed Kale with Garlic and Parmesan

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Sautéed kale with garlic and parmesan makes an easy, flexible, and super-savory side dish for a wide variety of meals. Don't miss it.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
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Ingredients 

  • 1 large bunch kale, about a pound/(454 grams) before removing stems
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, or more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 ounce (28 grams) freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Balsamic glaze, for drizzling

Instructions 

  • Strip the kale from its stems and tear into bite-sized pieces. Wash and dry well in a salad spinner.
  • Heat the olive oil over medium-high in a 12-inch frying pan. Add garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, for a minute or two, until garlic is very fragrant and beginning to take on the slightest bit of color.
  • Add kale by the handful. Pan will be very full at first.
  • Cook, stirring very frequently at first, until kale is tender and dramatically reduced in volume. Depending on the variety and thickness of the kale you're working with, this will take anywhere from a couple of minutes to more like 10 minutes.
  • Off the heat, stir in the parmesan and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Notes

  1. This recipe works equally well with curly or lacinato kale (also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale or cavolo nero). Choose whatever looks best at the market. Kale is at its peak in the colder months but is good any time of year.
  2. I've called for olive oil, which complements kale nicely. You can use butter instead if you like, to change up the flavor profile a bit.
  3. The red pepper flakes are optional, though I think a little touch of heat adds a lot of dimension. You can use as little or as much as you like.
  4. Instead of using balsamic glaze, you can stir in a tablespoon of regular balsamic vinegar toward the end of cooking and let it reduce a bit.
  5. This dish only takes a few minutes to cook, so I like to make it shortly before serving. You can prep all the ingredients up to about 24 hours in advance. Leftovers will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 96kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 165mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sides
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.86 from 7 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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