Genius Recipes

The Genius Kale Side Suzanne Goin Can't Take Off Her Menus

March 30, 2016

You may have eaten your weight in kale in the past few years (or few days), but you haven't had kale like this. It's the perfect antidote, the next time you have raw greens fatigue. It might be the only way you want to eat kale ever again.

(I should back up: You haven't had kale like this unless you've ordered the long-cooked cavolo nero at one of Suzanne Goin's L.A. restaurants or stumbled across it via her latest cookbook or on the internet, which admittedly could be many of you.)

The experience could not be further on the spectrum from kale salad—rather than not cooking it at all, Goin cooks it to death, to the point that the very kale itself is deeply caramelized. It turns nearly black, frizzled, a little chewy and a little crispy, with an earthy sweetness that only comes out after a good thirty minutes of slow-cooking (trust me—I like to stand next to the pot sampling).

To get it there, Goin first quickly blanches, then wrings out the kale to relieve it of most of its moisture and hustle it along in cooking. (This shortcut is much like the genius technique in Roy Finamore's Broccoli Cooked Forever.)

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Then she sautés the wrung kale in a whole lot of olive oil, onions, garlic, dried chiles, and rosemary for as long as she can.

"I love this on its own," Goin wrote to me. "Or sometimes I'll stir-fry it with some chewy grains, like farro, or some squash or sweet potato." She notes that it will also work with mustard greens, or any other stiffer greens that take their sweet time to break down. But Tuscan kale remains her favorite.

Bon Appétit originally published this recipe as a base to get mixed into stuffing, though it seems most people never make it there. Sara Forte at Sprouted Kitchen uses it as an omelette filling with goat cheese and Alexandra Stafford stretches it with breadcrumbs, pancetta, and a poached egg. Here, I stuck it on top of soba noodles with a medium-cooked egg and extra chiles.

"This is one recipe that we can never take off our menu at a.o.c. because everyone requests it," Suzanne told me.

But the headnote in the a.o.c. cookbook reveals a slightly different story. "This cavolo nero preparation has become a house staple at all of my restaurants," she writes. "Another recipe on the 'Suzanne likes to have this constantly available to eat so we can't take it off the menu' list."

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to Associate Editor Ali Slagle for this one!

Photos by James Ransom

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I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Demington June 25, 2016
Collards are delicious cooked this way and often far less expensive that Tuscan kale. They are equally healthy, too.
Nancy @. April 19, 2016
I Love Kales! I couldn't find any other suitable recipe for myself to eat haha. This recipe is simple perfect for me. Thank you so much for sharing! :)
beth W. April 7, 2016
for the person inquiring as to wether the plates are heath ceramics, don't believe they are - heath edges are smooth/uniform. these appear somewhat irregular.
vrinda April 6, 2016
OMG you're not kidding !
For a kale hater this is the only way to consume these leaves.
Thank you thank you thank you !!!
I skip the blanching portion of the recipe and carry on
heidi April 5, 2016
made this with regular kale, shallots instead of onion. It was good with deep flavors.
Karl C. April 4, 2016
Doesn't pressing out the liquid after blanching remove a lot of the nutrients? Not looking for a health food site, or a nasty retort, just trying to make good choices.
kim April 3, 2016
1/4 c and change in olive is not very much at all spread out through THAT MUCH KALE! And portioned out for 3 or 4 people (as we did) it is highly unlikely to send anyone into cardiac arrest. Olive oil is an extremely healthy oil, and fat is not what makes us fat. Fats are essential for heart and brain health, and skin, muscle and joint lubrication, amongst many other things. They have been proven to assist with depression (and thereby crankiness) as well......I'm thinking that SOMEONE might want to try tolerating a little more fat in her diet......or try other websites that are specifically about cutting fat. Not sure why anybody at this point would want to, but that kind of cooking info is widely out there. I come to Food 52 for the pure pleasure of cooking fresh, delicious, seasonal ingredients from scratch. That pretty much fulfills all my goals for what we eat.
Rose L. April 3, 2016
thank Que. i remember now having dinosaur kale and it is the best. i'll try to pick some up next week in NYC!
Rose L. April 3, 2016
i'm dying to try this but doubt if i can find tuscan kale where i now live. has anyone tried it with supermarket kale?
Que April 3, 2016
It's also called dinosaur kale. But regular kale should work.
AntoniaJames April 11, 2016
Also called lacinato kale. ;o)
bethshax April 3, 2016
Sidebar: where are those plates from? They sorta look like Heath plates but I can't be sure!
Kristen M. April 11, 2016
Hi bethshax, I checked with our Art Director and Prop Stylist and she's not sure of the brand (and they're not marked on the bottoms)—they were on sale at ABC Home and aren't on the website anymore. But definitely not Heath. I'm sorry to not have more intel for you!
[email protected] April 3, 2016
'Makes about 1 1/2 cups', sorry from the UK, how many people does that feed?
Lela A. April 3, 2016
Two to three as a side depending on appetites.
jhweiss April 3, 2016
The comment about this not being a health food site was a bit nasty in tone for my liking. Not sure about you guys but I think it's always good to be kind. How about just the "try it with less oil" and see how it goes and leave the rest off.
epiphany April 4, 2016
I personally found the original comment, whilst not nasty in tone, quite disrespectful to the authour of this recipe, who took time to test and publish this recipe for our benefit. Everyone is free to alter recipes to fit whatever their criteria of "healthy" might be. As a lacto-vegetarian, I regularly replace "unhealthy" meat, fish and eggs with vegetarian/vegan equivalents, but it would not occur to me to chastise the writer of a recipe for using meat, fish or eggs!
Jennifer March 30, 2016
Yes, of course 1# of greens with over a quarter cup of oil will be delicious! Trust me. Whatever the technique. But the bottom line, for most of us most of the time--it's not a healthy ratio of vegetable to oil. For a special treat? Sure. But way more helpful would be to publish day-to-day recipes that maximize vegetables while minimizing (even nutritious) fats.
Alexis M. March 31, 2016
You do realize this is a cooking site and not a health food site, right? There are healthy recipes here, and unhealthy recipes. Should you prefer a focus solely on health foods, I would recommend looking elsewhere. Moreover, this page was about that technique used. Feel free to try is with less oil and report back your results!