Black Kale Steam/Sauteed with Garlic & Chili

Tuscan Black Kale
Tuscan black kale will make you want to devour your veggies!

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I love leafy vegetables cooked using this easy steam/saute method. You can have delicious and healthy vegetables on your table in about 15 minutes.

Heat up olive oil, garlic and chili flakes in a big pan. Throw in the leafy greens and coat them all with the oil. Add a little water and bring it to a rapid simmer. Cover the pan.

In a few minutes take off the lid and let the water evaporate. Saute the wilted greens in the garlic-infused oil until they’re tender.

All of the healthy vegetable goodness stays in the pan and the perfectly cooked tender greens flecked with garlic and chili flake glisten in the sheen of the olive oil.

Choose your favorite leafy vegetable, chard, brocolli rabe, escarole. But don’t be limited to greens. The steam/saute method works with most vegetables.

I cooked a vegetable with many names. Black kale because of its color. Dino(saur) kale because of the large leaf’s rough surface. Tuscan kale from the region in Italy where it is a favored ingredient for ribollita, the famous Tuscan twice boiled soup.

Call it what you want. Just make some soon. It’s vegan, Mediterranean, and if you leave out the bread, it’s even paleo!

The intense slightly bitter kale flavor is mellowed by the buttery olive oil. The heat of the chili flake warms your throat with each swallow.

Eat a bowl of kale as a light lunch or serve it as a side for your main course. Have a hunk of crusty bread handy to sop up the sauce that’s left on the plate.

Italians eat fantastic food but the Mediterranean Diet, most prominent in southern Italy, is healthy as well. I eat lots of vegetables and fruits locally grown and in season, legumes, nuts and grains. I love fish. Extra virgin olive oil is my fat of choice. I eat meat in moderation and sweets from time to time.

My meals are delicious and nutritious. Yours can be too.

So eat your vegetables! Roast some sausage to serve with steam/sauteed broccoli rabe for a complete meal. Or for something entirely different make a green bean and red onion salad.

Gianni’s Tip: I removed the thick tough stem at the base of each kale leaf. I saved the stems as I do with all my vegetable trimmings. Set the trimmings aside and throw them in the pot the next time you make a broth or soup for extra flavor. If you don’t use the trimmings immediately, just bag them and put them in the freezer for later.

Use it all up. Head towards zero waste in your kitchen. You’ll be happy and the planet will be too.

Buon appetito!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Black Kale Steam/Sauteed with Garlic & Chili
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: vegetables
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 bunches of kale (look for "Lacinato" on the tag) or your favorite leafy vegetable
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes
  • sea salt to taste
  • ½ cup water
  1. Wash the kale well.
  2. Cut out the tough stem as the bottom of each leaf.
  3. Cut the kale into 2 inch ribbons.
  4. Put the olive oil, pepper flakes and garlic in a large pot with a lid and heat the oil over medium heat until the garlic just starts to turn translucent.
  5. Add the kale and sea salt to taste.
  6. Pour in the water, bring to a rapid simmer, and cover the pot tightly with the lid.
  7. Steam, lifting the lid to stir occasionally, until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes.
  8. Uncover and cook over medium heat until the liquid is mostly evaporated and the kale is tender, about 5 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately.


8 Replies to “Black Kale Steam/Sauteed with Garlic & Chili”

  1. Salutoni Gianni;
    I just read above about making cavolo nero with salsiccie, I have one solitary lonely salsiccia in the freezer begging to be attended to. Upon your suggestion I shall cook it with the cabbage, taking half the meat out of its casing and scrambling it around and will leave the other half whole in order to see which result I enjoy most…. Gianni, I must thank you for presenting the true traditional cooking of Italy, exactly the cookery my generation grew up with, I was born in 1941. For years I’ve lived throughout Italy (mostly my father’s Piemonte and my mother’s Sicily) and for sure the dishes you present are not only of the past but what is still found in the big cities and country kitchens… I’m still waiting for your eventual cookbook, of course it’s to be a winner!!!!!

  2. Ciao Gianni;
    I just made your black cabbage (Cavolo Nero: Black Cabbage; also Cavolo da Palma: Palm Cabbage), delicious!!!! I’ve been using cavolo nero for decades in minestrone, pasta fazoo and with fried pork chops. I’m very glad I found your above recipe being I have 15 black cabbage plants flourishing in my yard and could always use another recipe.
    Are you to be publishing a cookbook soon? Please do so, I’ll be the first to buy it!
    – Gian

    1. Ciao Gian. I’m jealous that you have kale in your garden. Thanks for your support. Keep on cooking.
      Buon appetito!

  3. Perfect timing! Making this tomorrow as a side with Coda alla Vaccinara (Roman Style Braised Oxtail) and Polenta. Growing some, too! Looking forward to more of your great recipes, Gianni – BaBOOM!

      1. Ciao Holli. I’m happy you like our new videos this season. We’re publishing a new video every Saturday. Still the same stove. I love it.

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