Kale with Bacon and Balsamic (paleo, gluten-free, vegan option)


This is one of those dishes that probably should be eaten alone. That way, there’s no one around to judge you for sticking your entire face into the biggest bowl of kale known to man. 

Kale is extraordinarily good for you. According to NPR, kale scores a perfect 1,000 on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, which measures the amount of nutrients per calorie. Full of vitamins A, C and K as well as calcium, kale is one of those food that should always be in your fridge.

Some would argue that it doesn’t taste good. That’s fine. It doesn’t, in raw form. Why do you think people have been making chips out of it instead? You can’t snack on kale like you might a carrot or an apple. This leafy green needs some TLC in order to shine.

Here, I’ve sauteed it, breaking down the tough connective tissue that generally causes the most problems for people. The kale is sauteed with bacon, mushrooms and onions — all of which make this dish filling and entree-worthy — and finished with balsamic vinegar, which helps elevate the heaviness of the bacon and also sweeten the kale’s remaining bitterness.

You’re going to be skeptical of the bacon grease in this recipe. Feel free to take out the bacon and just use olive oil, maybe add a few toasted nuts in there for some protein. That’s probably what I’m going to end up doing next time. Walnuts or cashews would be perfect here.

Sauteed Kale with Mushrooms and Onions
Serves 1
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
  1. 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips (or 2 Tbsp olive oil)
  2. 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  3. 6 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  4. 1/4 cup red wine (if using bacon)
  5. 4 cups curly kale, trimmed and sliced into ribbons
  6. 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  7. salt and pepper to taste
  1. If using bacon, throw in pan and cook over medium-high heat until brown, but still somewhat tender. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of grease and reserve for other uses. If not using bacon, heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Add mushrooms, and wait for them to become very tender. If you've used the bacon, use this time to deglaze the pan with the red wine. If not, leave it out.
  3. Add kale and balsamic and watch like a hawk. You want to sautee the kale, stirring frequently. You want it tender, but not so tender that it loses its bright green color. It should wilt, but not droop — if it droops, you have probably overcooked it.
  4. Once the kale is done, salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
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