This super simple lemon garlic kale with tomatoes and red onion calls for just 6 ingredients and 10 minutes on the stove. (This recipe has been updated from its original March 2019 version)
Let’s name the elephant in the room: kale can be… how do I put it mildly – polarizing? Just the word alone is known to cause convulsions for the green-averse. My theory? When kale first became “a thing” in the early 2010’s, many of us assumed it was just another leaf we could toss into salads. And boy, were we wrong.
Unlike its distant salad-ready cousins romaine and arugula, raw kale leaves are thick, rough-textured, and nearly impossible to chew. But sautéed kale? An entirely different story! So if you think you hate kale, keep reading because this recipe is very much for you.
This lemony, garlicky sautéed kale with tomato and red onion is the best and easiest way to make kale delicious. It’s juicy, packed with flavor, and has a bit of a kick from chili flakes. It makes an awesome side dish to almost anything – from pasta, sushi, and tacos, to this curried chickpea salad.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
Sautéing kale is the easiest way to mellow out its flavor and give it a juicy, delicate texture. Plus, it’s super easy and takes just about 10 minutes. This lemon garlic kale is soft, juicy, savory thanks to sautéed tomatoes and onions, and tangy thanks to the lemon juice.
Another bonus: because cooking wilts kale – thus decreasing its volume – it’s easier to eat a lot of sautéed kale than raw kale, which is a good thing because kale is one of the healthiest foods in the world. It’s known to be cancer-preventative, cholesterol-lowering, generally anti-inflammatory, and packed with vitamins and minerals, like Vitamins K, A, and C, manganese, calcium, and fiber.
How to Make This Lemon Garlic Kale
Start by cooking a bit of red onion in olive oil just until it starts to soften and brown (the onion will lend a subtle sweetness to the kale). Next, add a diced tomato, garlic, chili flakes, salt, and pepper, and cook until the tomatoes collapse and get juicy. This onion-tomato mixture takes about 5 minutes and will create the foundational flavor for the kale.
Then put the kale on the tomato mixture, add a splash of water, and cover the skillet tightly with a lid for a few minutes, until the kale is bright green and wilted. This step is crucial since it steams and softens the kale. Be careful not to add too much water; you only need a tiny bit to create steam in the skillet and don’t want to end up with wet kale. Lastly, squeeze a generous amount of lemon on top (the lemon is key!) and give everything a good stir.
Note: The lemon will turn the kale brown after some time – it’ll still taste the same, just not be as pretty. If you’re not serving the kale right away, hold off on the lemon until you’re ready to serve.
Ingredients + Substitutions
- Red onion: You can substitute with white onion or shallots.
- Tomato: If you don’t have a fresh tomato, you can use a bit of canned diced tomatoes (about 1/3 cup) for a similar effect.
- Kale: This calls for curly kale, which is lighter green and, well, curlier than dinosaur (“lacinato”) kale.
More greens this way!
- Vegetarian Collard Greens
- Thai Salad with Seared Tofu and Peanut Dressing
- Cashew Kale Caesar
- 9 Healthy Summer Salads
This super simple lemon garlic kale with tomatoes and red onion calls for just 6 ingredients and 10 minutes on the stove.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 small tomato, finely diced
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 small bunch curly kale, stemmed and torn into small bits
- The juice of 1/4 of a lemon
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook until it’s starting to soften and brown, about 3 minutes.
- Add the tomato, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Cook until the tomato gets soft and juicy, about 2 minutes more.
- Place the kale on the tomato mixture and add a splash of water, about 3 tablespoons. (Don’t bother stirring at this point.) Cover the skillet tightly with a lid and steam until the kale is wilted and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Uncover and toss the kale to combine it with the tomato mixture. Turn the heat off and squeeze the lemon over the kale (see note below). Toss one more time. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
The lemon will turn the kale brown after some time – it’ll still taste the same, just not be as pretty. If you’re not serving the kale right away, hold off on the lemon until you’re ready to serve.
- Calories: 80
- Carbohydrates: 10.5 g
- Fiber: 1.5 g
- Protein: 3 g
Keywords: kale, garlic, lemon, side dish, vegan