simple sauteed kale

by Stacy

While reorganizing my categories a bit (tags are sort of useless with this layout, so I am gradually switching to more specific category listings) I noticed that I post a lot of desserts and bread. While I am a huge fan of both desserts and bread, that is not all that we eat. That’s what gets posted because that’s when I follow recipes and end up with vaguely photogenic results.

The majority of my actual cooking lately has fallen into one of two categories: repeats, or “random veggies tossed in a pan with or without a starch.” Repeats are pretty self-explanatory. The random veggies category is challenging for me because I am not always good at tracking measurements while cooking this way, and the end results are not always amaaaaaazing. Sometimes it will end up delicious, but not terribly photogenic. Other times I’m just plain hungry and don’t bother with photos.

So I’ve decided to post more of my “everyday” dishes. Many are CSA-based as I try to use everything in our bi-weekly share of produce. While I am not going to promise that all of them are spectacular, it will be a pretty honest reflection of what I toss together to empty the fridge and fill my stomach. For the less-than-spectacular ones I will attempt to offer improvements, too.

simple sauteed kale

This was pretty darn tasty, though. I even made seconds.

After making a fairly labor-intensive salad last night, I came to the conclusion that I just don’t like raw fennel. Roasted? Great. Raw? …. Eh. While tolerable, I just don’t love it. There was half a bulb left in the fridge, so on a whim I tossed it in with the kale I was sauteing. A little oil and a little caramelization, and we were back in business.

We got lacinato kale (also called black kale or dinosaur kale) from the CSA last week, which I love. The kale was so tender that I didn’t even have to cut out the stems.

So, diced fennel goes on a splash of olive oil in a nice hot pan. After the edges start turning golden, chopped kale goes in next. A minced clove of garlic just needs to heat up, then a dollop of wine to deglaze the whole mess adds just enough acid to lift the flavors a bit. A grind of pepper, and you have a tasty plate.

Kale is more substantial than spinach, so when it wilts it doesn’t lose quite as much volume. The flavor of the fennel is mellowed by the saute and adds a nice textural contrast, and the garlic is just plain delicious.

simple sauteed kale

While this would make a nice side dish, I just ate a heap as a warm salad for lunch. Kale naturally contains sodium, so I don’t add salt. The garlic adds plenty of flavor and some cracked pepper is enough, I find.

Simple Sauteed Kale with Fennel and Garlic

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and cored
1 bunch lacinato kale, tough stems removed
1-2 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons white wine (lemon juice might work here, too)

1.) Dice the fennel bulb. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat until water droplet sizzle in the pan. When pan is hot, add oil, swirl quickly, then add fennel. Stir until coated then let cook for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, stack the kale leaves and slice into wide ribbons.

2.) When the fennel has started to turn golden brown, clear the center of the pan and add all the kale. Stir to coat with oil. Meanwhile, mince the garlic. Let kale cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.

3.) When the kale has wilted and looks glossy, clear a space in the center of the pan and add the garlic. Stir and cook 30-60 seconds. Add a tablespoon or two of water if anything is sticking to the pan. Add the wine and stir as it evaporates. Remove from heat. Serve immediately or at room temperature with fresh cracked pepper on top.

simple sauteed kale

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Bridget January 26, 2010 at 9:09 am

I have the exact same problem with blogging about meals. I don’t always measure, I don’t always take pictures, and I don’t always love the results.

This looks great though! I love kale, and I need to try fennel again.


stacy January 26, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Glad to hear it’s not just me. It’s always disappointing when something delicious looks like a bowl of gruel. Thinking on it more, I’m more likely to look for inspiration for easy dishes like this anyway. So often I search for recipes only to find some complex thing when I just want a quick lunch, so maybe it will be useful for someone. =)

Thank you! The fennel flavor is really subtle since the kale has enough body and the garlic is… well… garlic. Which I love.


Erica Sara January 27, 2010 at 11:08 pm

This looks delicious! I typically make kale with garlic & lemon juice but I love the idea of adding fennel to the mix. Am definitely making this in the coming week


stacy January 30, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Normally I do, too, but I was too lazy to cut up a lemon and I had an open bottle of wine. Lemon juice would work, too, I just think it needs a little acid to kick up the flavor.

Thanks for stopping by!


Katerina January 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I love kale. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I have never tried it with fennel though, always open to trying new things.


stacy January 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Because kale is awesome. =)

It was a bit of a whim and I wasn’t sure I would like the combo, but the fennel added a nice crunch and the sweetness was good with the garlic.


Ruth January 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I was thinking of taking garlicky kale to an Asian new year party pot luck tomorrow evening and was wondering if it would be good adding fennel. I googled it, and presto! Here you are with directions and a yummy photo. Thanks!


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