Make tender kale that is anything but swampy

Carl Tremblay/America's Test Kitchen via APGarlic and chopped onion flavor this braised kale dish, which is sautéed in a Dutch oven.

Kale is among the most nutrient-dense of all vegetables, but it can be difficult to turn the hearty green tender enough to enjoy.

We wanted a simple approach to producing an abundance of tender kale without overcooking the greens or leaving them awash in liquid.

We started with a generous 4 pounds of kale. To fit them in the pot, we sautéed one-third of the greens before adding the rest in two batches and covering the pot. In less than half an hour, the greens had almost the tender-firm texture we wanted.

We removed the lid to allow the liquid to evaporate as the greens finished cooking.

For flavorings, we added a substantial amount of garlic and chopped onion for aromatic character, and a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice balanced the dish.

For the best results, be sure the greens are fully cooked and tender while covered before moving on to removing the lid.

GARLICKY BRAISED KALE

Servings: 8

Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped fine

10 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup water

Salt and pepper

4 pounds kale, stemmed and cut into 3-inch pieces

1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and bring to simmer.

Add 1/3 of the kale. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 2-4 minutes. Repeat with remaining kale in 2 batches. Continue to cook, covered, until kale is tender, 13-15 minutes.

Remove lid, and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most liquid has evaporated and greens begin to sizzle, 10-12 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Season with salt, pepper and extra lemon juice to taste. Serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 216 calories; 109 calories from fat; 12 g fat (20 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 396 mg sodium; 23 g carbohydrate; 9 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 11 g protein.

Spice it up

For braised kale with coconut and curry, substitute 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon curry powder for the red pepper flakes, and 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk for water. Substitute lime juice for lemon juice, and sprinkle kale with 1/4 cup toasted and chopped cashews before serving.