An Easy Kale Side Dish Recipe That Is Jam Packed With Flavor
I’m sorry to have to break the news to you, but…
Summer is over.
But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Now you finally get to wear the new sweater you got at that end-of-season winter sale last year. And you get to turn your oven back on without heating up your entire house or apartment.
Let’s be honest though, the real reason you shouldn’t be so bummed about the onset of fall is because: braising.
Braising is the official cooking method of fall and winter. Low and slow just like the weather. And like this anchovy and garlic braised kale.
Kale is a cool weather veggie. So it makes sense why braising kale is a great way to cook it.
You may be thinking: “But braising takes forever. Hence, the slow in low and slow. I don’t have time to braise kale during my busy life.”
But getting kale to fall off the bone (or stem) doesn’t have to take all night. In fact, it is a quick and easy weeknight kale side dish. You can prep the rest of your meal while you cook this stewed kale until it’s nice and tender.
So, it’s time to make your house smell like a restaurant with this braised kale recipe.
What is Braising?
There is wet heat (aka hot liquid – think boiling) and dry heat (aka hot air – think oven and grilling). Braising is cool because it uses a combination of wet and dry heat to cook veggies and meats.
The method for braising goes like this:
- Add a cooking fat (oil, butter, etc.) to a hot pan or pot over high temperature that is big enough to hold all of the ingredients that are going to go in your braise.
- Place your ingredients one by one on the hot pan surface to cook and brown the outsides (dry heat). This will help release some of their flavor.
- Add liquid to the pot – an amount that doesn’t quite cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for a long amount of time (wet heat). This cooks the ingredients low and slow to tenderize tough meats and veggies while concentrating flavors.
Doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Anchovy? Really? Isn’t that the gross little tinned fish that goes on pizza?
Anchovies need a new marketing director. Because these tiny little fishies are one of the most delicious things on the planet when served correctly. They will add a blast of that trendy foodie flavor called umami (or savory) to your dishes.
If you like strong flavors, then anchovies are your new best friend. They are briny, salty, fishy, and intense. But, in order to harness their potentially overwhelming flavors, there needs to be a balance of acid (vinegar, lemon juice, etc.) and aromatics (garlic, onion, herbs, etc.).
I recommend sticking to recipes (like this one!) the first few times you use them. This will help you learn how to make the most of their flavor without overwhelming your taste buds. I’m probably weird because I’m cool with eating them right out of the tin with a piece of bread or veggie.
Plus, they’re packed full of omega-3 fats that are healthy for your heart.
So, that is my case for anchovies. We love them. And I always have a few tins of them in my pantry. Which brand of tins you ask?…
What Type of Anchovies Should I Buy?
If you want to give these flavor bombs a try, I like these Cento ones for every day use in dishes like this braised kale. For a higher quality fish, these ones from Ortiz are some of the best around. These are perfect for topping a piece of toast.
You can also buy anchovies from your local grocery store or specialty foods market. But, be careful because I’ve found that some of the lower quality tins are really lacking in flavor. The Cento ones are widely available around me, so you may be able to find them at grocery stores near you as well.
How Long Does this Braised Kale Side Dish Last?
One of my favorite things about braises is that their flavor enhances after a day or so. Store this braised kale side dish in a covered container like these leakproof ones in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. It will taste even better the day after making.
Type of Kale to Use
There are a few different types of kale you’re probably used to seeing at the grocery store or farmer’s market. I wrote all about the different types of kale in this kale 101 ultimate guide.
But, I’ll keep it simple for this braised kale recipe. Because you can use pretty much any type. Curly kale is the most common, so that is naturally a good choice. If you want a more colorful side dish, try Redbor kale.
Braised Kale Variations
I love braising because it’s blank canvas for you to experiment with.
- Use white wine – Instead of white wine vinegar, use white wine and double the amount of it (or 1/2 cup). The final dish will have a less acidic bite and more pronounced anchovy flavor.
- Sausage and beer – Instead of anchovies and vinegar, use sausage for your protein and beer for your liquid. Use double the amount of beer (or 1/2 cup) in place of vinegar for a filling meal.
- Bacon – Swap anchovies for bacon. The bacon fat will render and cook the rest of your ingredients for max flavor.
- Make it vegan – Leave out the anchovies for a simple vegan side dish.
- Give it an Asian twist – Add ginger to the ingredients you cook. Then use rice vinegar with a few splashes of soy sauce or tamari as your braising liquid. Finish it with a splash of sesame oil before serving.
How to Make this Braised Kale a Meal
This braised kale is the perfect healthy side dish to a filling dinner. Here are some ideas to round out your meal:
- Baked Falafel (With Canned Chickpeas)
- Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad
- Oven Roasted Beets: How to Cook a Batch of Fresh Beets
- Garlic Herb Reverse Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast
- Kale 101: Everything You Need to Know to Buy, Store, Cook, and Eat Kale
- Creamy Vegan Kale and Cauliflower Soup
- Roasted Kale Chips In the Oven
- Simple Chickpea and Kale Salad With Avocado
- Vegan Kale Pesto
Anchovy and Garlic Braised Kale
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion (or half of a large one), thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 2 oz tin anchovies, finely chopped
- 2 bunches kale, leaves separated from stems, leaves sliced into 1 inch pieces and stems reserved for another use (about 1 pound)
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot with lid.
- Add anchovies, garlic, and onions. Cook until garlic is golden and onions have softened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add kale a few handfuls at a time, tossing after each to distribute ingredients. Add vinegar and cover pot for 5 minutes to let steam.
- Remove lid and cook, uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated, 10-12 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed,
Ready to Dip Into Braise Days?
The weather is cool, so it’s time to heat it up the kitchen. I love getting a pot of delicious ingredients going. It makes the house smell amazing. And it feels all cozy.
For hours, my wife couldn’t stop saying how great it smelled. It was even the last thing she said to me before we went to bed.
So, give your housemates some good smells and make this braised kale with anchovies and garlic.