Lemon garlic braised kale is an easy and healthy recipe that transforms kale into a flavor-packed, tender side dish! Ready in under 20 minutes, it’s perfect to pair with a weeknight meal like salmon or shrimp.

Lemon garlic braised kale in a speckled bowl with ingredients surrounding it

Kale is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, but it sometimes gets a bad reputation for being bitter, tough, and unappealing. As a Registered Dietitian, it’s practically my mission to make all vegetables fun, delicious, and desirable to eat! This lemon garlic braised kale recipe is my favorite way to prepare kale at the moment – it’s easy to make, uses just a few ingredients, and is downright delicious. Since the kale shrinks so much, you’ll easily eat an entire bunch of kale in one sitting!

The trick to turning tough kale leaves into tender, soft and actually chewable ones? Braising! Braising is a cooking technique that uses a combination of wet and dry heat. First you’ll use dry heat to lightly saute the kale, then add some liquid to let it stew. You can braise pretty much any food, and the combination of dry and wet heat produces a very tender and succulent result.

Ingredients in lemon garlic braised kale

  • Kale – of course, you need kale for this recipe. I like to use curly kale (green or red), but you can also use Lacinato (dinosaur) kale. Use a mature kale for this dish, not baby kale, to hold up to braising.
  • Garlic – adds delicious garlic flavor to this dish.
  • White onion – helps build the savory base flavor for this recipe.
  • Lemon – fresh lemon juice adds zesty flavor.
  • White wine enhances the savory flavors of this dish. To omit the wine, just double up on the vegetable broth.
  • Vegetable broth imparts even more umami flavor.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

This recipe is suitable for many dietary restrictions, including vegan, gluten free, nut free, soy free, and dairy free.

Other healthy add-in ideas

  • Capers or Kalamata olives for salty, briny flavor
  • Red pepper flakes for some heat
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Slivered almonds or chopped pecans – toast them first to enhance their flavor and texture
  • Toasted breadcrumbs for some crunch
  • Chopped fresh herbs like parsley or basil for fresh flavor
Lemon garlic braised kale ingredients in small bowls on a wooden cutting board

How to make lemon garlic braised kale

First, remove the tough stems from kale leaves and tear into bite size pieces. Discard the stems or save them for a green smoothie recipe or homemade stock. Mince the garlic and dice the onion.

Build the base flavor: Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and onion, cooking for a few minutes being careful not to burn.

Add the kale leaves with salt and pepper and toss to coat them in the olive oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes to lightly soften the leaves. The kale will look like a lot, but it’s going to cook down significantly.

Add the liquid to braise: Pour the lemon juice, broth, and white wine into the pan. Stir everything up and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally. The kale leaves will shrink down a lot and become tender and soft as the alcohol from the white wine cooks off.

Store leftover braised kale in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can just reheat it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Lemon garlic braised kale in a saute pan

Kale nutrition benefits

Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet! One cup of raw kale provides:

  • 2 grams of dietary fiber
  • 3 grams of plant-based protein
  • Over 100 percent of your daily Vitamin C needs
  • Over 200 percent of your daily Vitamin A needs, from beta-carotene
  • Over 600 percent of your daily Vitamin K needs
  • Other micronutrients, including calcium, manganese, copper, and potassium

Kale also has several antioxidants, including Vitamin C, beta-carotene, flavonoids, and polyphenols. Antioxidants help fight inflammation, keep our cells healthy, and protect against certain diseases.

What to serve with this side dish

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Lemon Garlic Braised Kale

Lemon garlic braised kale is an easy and healthy recipe that transforms kale into a flavor-packed, tender side dish! Ready in under 20 minutes, it’s perfect to pair with a weeknight meal like salmon or shrimp.

  • Author: Alex Aldeborgh
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: serves 34 1x
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: Braise
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • One bunch curly kale, stems removed and leaves torn into bite size pieces (about 5 cups)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan.
  • Add the garlic and onion, cooking for 1-2 minutes until fragrant being careful not to burn.
  • Add the kale and stir to combine with the garlic and onion and coat in olive oil. Add the lemon zest, and saute the kale for a couple minutes so it wilts slightly.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, and pour in the lemon juice, white wine, and vegetable broth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally letting the kale stew in the liquid.
  • Kale is ready once it has wilted significantly and is tender and soft. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and serve warm.

Notes

Keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container

Keywords: braised kale, vegan side dish, gluten free recipe, healthy side dish

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