Most people know that kale is super nutritious, but not everyone knows what to do with it. Hiding kale in smoothies is one way to incorporate kale into your diet; mixing it with romaine in a salad is another, like I do in this Chopped Italian Kale Salad. But what about cooking kale, making it into a vegetable side dish so good that kale can shine as the star and make you proclaim, “wow, I love kale!”Well, this recipe is it, folks! This Sautéed Kale with Balsamic Glazed Shallots might be simple, but it is mighty. The short list of ingredients come together perfectly to let the best flavors shine. And because it’s so simple, you can have it one the table in 15 minutes or less. Minimal cooking time also means that the kale will have the perfect texture (softened, but not mushy) and maximum amount of nutrients.
Pine nuts are an optional but delicious addition to this Sautéed Kale with Balsamic Glazed Shallots. Even with the pine nuts, this recipe is gluten-free, vegan (egg- and dairy-free), low-carb, Paleo, keto and Whole30 friendly. If your loved one has an allergy to nuts or if you simply don’t have any pine nuts on hand, don’t worry, you can eliminate them to make this recipe nut-free, as well. Most of the flavor comes from the balsamic glazed shallots, so this kale is fantastic either way!
Health Benefits & Nutrition Info
Not only is kale one of the most nutrient dense vegetables available, it’s also an extremely rich source of antioxidants, namely carotenoids, flavonoids, and glucosinolates. A substantial amount of research has shown that these antioxidants help to protect the body from everything from cancer to glaucoma to inflammation and heart disease. The USDA recognizes kale as the richest source of lutein, an antioxidant that research has demonstrated protects the eyes from glaucoma, and that’s in comparison to over 5,000 foods in the USDA database! Research has also shown that kale supports the body’s detoxification process in addition to feeding the good bacteria in the intestines, so yeah. Kale has indeed earned the label of “superfood”!
Don’t forget about the other ingredients, though. Shallots, which are part of the onion family, provide an impressive amount of polyphenol antioxidants (source). Balsamic vinegar is also rich in polyphenol antioxidants, particularly the same variety that are believed to make red wine so beneficial. Last but not least is the avocado oil, which is a rich source of heart-healthy, inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fats.
Tips & Tricks
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Be sure to use lacinato kale for this recipe. Confused about what this is? Well, it’s kale that’s not curly, and it’s known by several other names, such as “black cabbage”, “Tuscan cabbage”, “Tuscan kale” “Italian kale” and “dino kale”. It’s my favorite variety of kale, both because it’s sweeter and more delicate than curly kale, and because it is super easy to grow! It requires very little attention and is very hardy. It even withstands early season frosts. The kale I used for this recipe has been through half a dozen nights below freezing, yet it’s still growing!
- Typically you don’t need to remove the stem from lacinato/dino kale because the stem is not as large as the stem found in curly kale or collards. Save yourself some time and effort and just chop the sections with stems a little smaller.
- Avocado oil can be expensive, but Costco sells it for a very reasonable price! If you don’t have a Costco membership, check out this Chosen Foods brand 2-pack on Amazon, Primal Kitchen brand Avocado Oil at Vitacost, or head to your local Natural Grocers.
- Be sure to use a good knife to chop these ingredients! I have owned J.A. Henckles knives for years and love them. My choice for this recipe is my 7-inch santoku hollow edge knife, but any of them would work.
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Sauteed Kale with Balsamic Glazed Shallots
Gluten-free | Grain-free | Dairy-free | Egg-free | Nightshade-free | Low-carb | Keto | Paleo | Vegan | Whole30 compliant
- 8 cups lacinato kale (a.k.a. Tuscan or dino kale, chopped)
- 1 large shallot (or about 1/2 cup sliced)
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup avocado oil, divided in half
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (optional topping)
Break the shallot slices apart with your fingers so you have separate rings.
Heat a pan to medium-low heat. Add 1/2 half of the avocado oil (2 Tbsp) and let it heat up for about 30-60 seconds. Add the shallots, toss to coat them in the oil and cook for 1 minute, or until softened. Add the balsamic vinegar and toss until all of the shallots are well coated. Cook another 4 minutes, or until the shallots have softened and the balsamic vinegar has reduced.
Add the kale and remaining 2 Tbsp of avocado oil. Toss, sprinkle with salt and nutmeg and toss again to combine. Cook about 3 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Serve warm. Top with 1/4 cup pine nuts, if you'd like.
Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for convenience. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.