Boiled Kale on Toast

Adapted only slightly from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook I know, I know. Boiled kale? It sounds so, I don’t know, homely and boring. But, as Judy Rodgers says in her cookbook, this recipe is as delicious as it’s name is boring. It’s simple and sophisticated at the same time, and is lovely food for any time of day or occasion. The original recipe uses only water as the cooking liquid, but I like to make it using a very basic chicken stock, because it gives the flavor a little extra oomph — I’ve included that recipe for you, but store-bought stock will likely work, too. If you decide to make your own stock, you can pick up local and responsibly-raised chickens at a local farmers’ market or Urban Agrarian.
By / Photography By Aaron Snow | April 25, 2016


Stack and roll a few kale leaves at a time, then slice them into roughly ⅛-inch-thick slivers. Saute onions in olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic and kale to the pan, and stir until the kale wilts — this will take about 5 minutes. Add water or broth to cover by about ½ inch; also add 3 to 4 generous pinches of salt. Cover and allow the liquid to come to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the kale is tender — this will take about 25 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t become mushy, and add more water or broth if needed to keep the kale submerged. Taste for salt before serving and note that it will need a good amount.

When there is about 5 minutes left on the kale, prepare the toast. You want big, thick slices of chewy bread, and will want one slice per person. Toast the bread until the slices are golden brown, then rub both sides with raw garlic while the bread is still hot. Transfer the toast to wide soup bowls, then place a few indulgent forkfuls of boiled kale on top of each. You can finish with a drizzle of olive oil, if you’d like, or cheese shavings and freshly-cracked black pepper. We’ve also served this dish with a fried egg on top.


  • 8 ounces of kale, I used Lacinato kale, but any hearty variety works fine here — even collards will work
  • 1½ cups diced yellow onion (about 1 medium yellow onion)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, slivered
  • 3 to 4 cups of water or mild chicken broth
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