It’s taken me quite some time to truly warm up to kale.
I know, I know. The cruciferous superfood is loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and all of the other things that hopefully have the power to cancel out the three beers I had yesterday.
But it doesn’t exactly taste like pizza.
My mom has been a leafy greens enthusiast for as long as I can remember, and boy did she try her damnedest to get me on board.
When I think back on my most standout memories of her devotion to every variety of nutritious greens, the majority of them take place at breakfast.
First, there was the butter.
The nutty aroma and sputtering pop of a salty pat of butter sliding into a pan pretty much sums up my childhood.
When my dad was behind the stove, he would pour a stream of frothy whisked eggs into the sizzling mist. Some fresh sage and sharp white cheddar later, and there would appear my most favorite morning meal.
My mom, however, would take a different route.
Just as the butter would begin to foam and bubble, she would scatter a small pile of lightly-colored leeks into the pan. The aromatic ringlets would instantly perfume the house, sending their oniony scent down the hall and up the stairs to my room.
I would wander down in my oversized sweatpants and fuzzy socks, curious about the ambrosial smell that had knocked on my door and let itself into my nose.
Though I didn’t have much interest in the emerald wad of kale (or chard, bok choy, or the like) that my mom was transforming into abundant ribbons, when the greens hit the buttery leeks, the air became earthy and fragrant.
I couldn’t resist asking for a taste.
Her green creations were always paired with runny eggs, and she would offer me as many mouthfuls as I could stand. I opted for more yolky goodness and less greens in my bites, but there was something about that combination of flavors that stuck with me.
As an adult, my feelings towards leafy greens like kale have taken a turn. I’ve discovered that, when wilted or covered in something creamy, they are simply divine. I no longer nudge them to the side.
Kale Caesar? Definitely. Creamed kale (or collards)? Hell yes.
Silky eggs cocooned in a nest of citrusy sauteed greens, with tangy crumbled cheese and spicy crushed red pepper flakes?
C’mon. Who would say no to that?
A touch of vegetable stock helps to transform the kale from its raw form, a delicate dusting of lemon zest brightens up the veggies’ bitterness, and a spoonful of goat cheese helps everything go down.
If this dish knocked on your nose’s door first thing in the morning, you know you’d let it in.Print
Get your greens fix for breakfast with this quick one-pot meal. Kale kicks up the nutrient content, eggs are creamy and protein-rich.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, diced or cut into thin ribbons
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bunch kale, tough stems and veins removed and leaves roughly chopped (about 6 cups)
- 1/4 cup homemade or low-sodium vegetable broth
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 4 large eggs
- 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- Place a large heavy-bottomed skillet (such as a cast iron pan) over medium heat. Add the butter and swirl to coat the pan. When the butter begins to foam and sizzle, add the leeks and garlic. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Saute until very fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add half of the kale and saute, stirring frequently until it begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in the rest of the kale and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Once the second addition begins to wilt, add the broth and lemon zest, and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Using the back of a spoon, create a pocket for each egg within the bed of kale, and crack an egg into each pocket. Season the eggs with the remaining salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, and cover the pan.
- Cook the eggs until the whites are opaque and the yolks are still runny, about 3-5 minutes. Crumble the goat cheese over the kale and eggs, divide among plates, and serve immediately with crusty bread.
- Category: Eggs
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Breakfast
Keywords: kale, egg, garlic, leek, breakfast
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Chop the Leeks, Garlic, and Kale
Dice the leeks and rinse them well in a colander under running water to remove any grit or dirt that was trapped between the leaves. You could also slice them very thinly into rings, if you prefer.
Mince the garlic. Wash the kale well, remove the ribs, and give it a chop.
Step 2 – Saute the Aromatics
In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, like a cast iron, melt the butter over medium heat. Swirl it to coat the pan.
When the butter begins to foam and sizzle, add the leeks and garlic. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
Saute until very fragrant, for about 2 minutes.
Step 3 – Slowly Add and Wilt the Kale
Add about half of the kale and saute, stirring frequently until it begins to wilt, for about 2 minutes.
Stir in the rest of the kale. Season it with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Once it begins to wilt, add the broth and lemon zest, and simmer for 2 minutes.
Step 4 – Create a Pocket for the Eggs and Crack Them In
Using the back of a spoon, create a pocket (or well) for each egg within the kale.
One at a time, crack the eggs into a ramekin or small bowl (in case you get any broken shell fragments in there – it’s easier to pick them out this way), and then slide them individually into each of the pockets.
Season the eggs with the remaining salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, and cover the pan.
Step 5 – Cook the Eggs, Garnish, and Serve
Cook the eggs to your desired doneness. For whites that are opaque and the yolks that are still runny, this will take about 3-5 minutes.
Crumble the goat cheese over the kale and eggs. Divide among plates, and serve immediately with crusty bread.
Why? Because Dr. Seuss Said So
Okay, so Seuss’s claim to fame was green eggs and ham (or Sam I Am’s, rather), but this recipe for green kale and eggs would make anybody feel like a star.
To amp up the savory factor and give things a pork-tastic twist, pancetta makes a totally welcome addition to this dish.
P.S. Transfer this whole recipe to a baking sheet (sans butter and broth, since all you’ll need to coat the kale and aromatics is a few glugs of olive oil) and bake at 375°F until the egg whites are opaque, about 5-8 minutes. The end result will be just as delicious, but with crispier greens.
Leafy greens do your body good, so say “Kale yeah!” to these other nutrient-rich recipes next:
Crunchy, rustic bread is a boss for swiping up every last drop of this dish, but you can also add roasted potatoes to the mix for something a little more substantial in the starch department.
How will you carb up this creation? Share your ideas in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on June 8, 2012. Last updated September 15, 2020.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”