Sautéed Kale with Smoked Paprika

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We have a thing for greens in our family. Beet greens, collard greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard, kale. My mother even picks dandelion greens to add to soups, and mix in with other greens. The thing about most greens is that they tend to be bitter, and some, like collard and kale, a little tough as well. Blanching before sautéing can help take the edge off the bitterness, and soften the greens. Greens are often prepared with garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, bacon, chili pepper, or barbecue sauce, strong flavors that can balance the inherent bitterness of the greens. In this recipe, the kale is first boiled, then sautéed with onions, chili flakes, and smoked paprika. We’ve used smoked paprika in a few other recipes here; it sort of has the flavor of barbecued potato chips. It takes just a little more than a pinch to bring a little smokey kick to these kale greens.

My father made this kale for us last night, from a recipe in an old issue of Bon Appetit. It was so good (truly, the best kale I’ve ever eaten, ever), not only did I take more than my fair share, I insisted that he make them again today, for lunch, so I could eat even more and try to take a good photo. (Thanks dad!)

Sautéed Kale with Smoked Paprika Recipe

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Kale tends to collect dirt in the leaf wrinkles, so rinse carefully before using. To prep, cut the leaf away from the center rib and stem of each leaf. Discard stems and center ribs.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh kale, carefully rinsed, stems and center ribs cut away and discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (also sold as Pimenton), sweet or hot
  • Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
  • Salt

Method

1 Bring a large pot (4 qts) of water to a boil. Add a Tablespoon of salt to the water. Add the chopped kale. Cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2 Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the smoked paprika and crushed red pepper. Add the kale and sauté for several more minutes. Sprinkle on more salt and smoked paprika to taste.

Serves 4.

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Adapted from a Deborah Madison recipe in Bon Appetit magazine.

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Showing 4 of 31 Comments

  • Diane

    I just tried something different: instead of oil I diced 1/2# thick-sliced bacon & sautéed that. When the fat had rendered, I stirred in the onion & proceeded without any more changes. Yummy! My husband loved it. Guess I’ll be cooking kale more often.

  • Ari

    Smoked paprika is magic! My family is crazy about paprika (currently five types in the spice cupboard) so I knew I had to try this. We are also crazy about greens, but never big on sauteed kale. That’s changed now! This dish was incredible! Smokey, slightly hot, sweet from blanching winter kale, just perfect! Even the toddler gobbled it up! Thanks for introducing us to a simple, delicious recipe!

  • Diane T.

    Thank you for the inspiration. One night,I couldn’t decide whether to fix this kale dish (healthy) or yams (yummy), so I did both together, peeling and dicing the yams into about 1″ dice, sauteeing first in olive oil with pimenton until tender, then adding the greens…served it topped with crunchy onions (packaged). All balanced one another – it was a meal in itself!

  • Deirdre Reid

    This has been my go-to kale recipe. Even my kale-wary boyfriend loves this — a convert! Thanks for sharing it.

  • Diane

    Having never eaten kale before, but having received some in a box of produce I received, I served this the other day to my family with some trepidation. I went with your recipe because I figured if there was a recipe they’d like, it would be yours because I’ve never made one of your recipes and not have it a hit. But unknown greens… I wasn’t too sure. Oh “me” of little faith; it was a hit! One thing I did add, though: some bacon pieces. I thought the added flavor might enhance the greens and make the famIly more accepting of them. I don’t know if they made a difference, but I’ll definitely be making it again. Thanks for broadening our culinary horizon!

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