Tuscan Kale with Garlic & Lemons

I love organic kale and Tuscan kale is my favourite kale to eat and cook with as it needs no draining after cooking like most other greens.

There are many kale varieties around and in this recipe you can use any variety you can find, however with its dark, almost black leaves, this variety in particular really packs a nutritious punch.

To confuse things a little more in the kale variety world, Tuscan kale goes by many names! It is also called Cavalo Nero (most popular, Italian name), Lacinato (its scientific name), black kale, palm kale and even dinosaur kale (don’t ask, no idea).

Kale is also really (really) good for us, loaded with important micronutrients, in fact kale is one of the most nutritious leafy greens available to us and I try to have it everyday. I tend to buy organic kale where possible as I often eat kale raw in salads or smoothies, you can shop organic kale (here).

Kale is part of the brassica family which also includes broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. There are plenty health benefits to this cruciferous the benefits that really interests me are the fact that kale is:

  • A powerful anti-oxidant containing plenty of flavonoids and polyphenols – key to helping our body fight against oxidative stress, caused by foreign molecules (called free radicals) in our body. Oxidative damage is believed to be among the leading drivers of aging, hormone imbalances and many chronic conditions, including cancer.
  • Kale is loaded with compounds that are believed to have protective effects against cancer. One of these is sulforaphane, a substance that has been shown to help block the formation of cancer at the molecular level

More kale recipes:

  • Vegan Creamy Kale Salad with Toasted Seeds (here)
  • Tomato, Barlotti Bean & Tuscan Kale Soup (here)
  • One Pot Tomato, Kale & Courgette Pasta (here)

Preparation: You do need to de-stem the kale as the white stem is tough and not edible (you can use it for flavour, added to stews and broths).

Chef’s Tip: Freezing cooked kale is a wonderful way to ‘greenify’ most dishes and its a good idea to buy, cook & freeze kale when in season (which in SA is all year round). Simply wash, chop, freeze, squeeze and chop the kale. Make a fist size with the kale and freeze in little balls on a plate, once frozen I like to pop the frozen balls in a labelled bag.

Leftovers: leftover kale reheats well and I love to add it in my pan with my morning eggs. You can also add the kale to any stews or soups. You can also freeze any cooked kale (in ice cube trays) to ‘greenify’ most things.

Tuscan Kale with Garlic & Lemons

Quick & Easy get-your-greens-in recipe!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Diet Fibre Rich Starter, Vegan
Servings 4


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale white rind removed, leaves shredded & washed (no need to dry the leaves)
  • 3 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • pinch smoked chilli flakes opt
  • 1 large lemon zest and juice
  • salt & pepper


  • Add the oil to a saucepan (with a lid) and heat to a medium heat, add the garlic, chilli flakes, squeeze of lemon and two generous pinches salt and pepper, stir until fragrant, 3 minutes. TIP: keep an eye on the garlic, we want to cook the garlic without colouring it as burnt garlic is bitter.
  • Add the shredded kale to the pan and stir to combine with the garlic and the oil. The excess water on the leaves will be enough moisture to wilt (cook) the kale, if your kale is dry, add 2 tablespoons water to the pan.
  • Staying on a medium heat, cover the pan and let the kale cook for 3 minutes. Carefully remove the lid, the kale should be dark green and soft, have a taste and decide if you want your kale to cook a bit longer, add the lid and cook for 1 or 2 minutes.
  • When you are happy with the kale, season with the zest of lemon, a squeeze of lemon juice and salt & pepper. Enjoy!
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