How to Saute Kale, Bacon, and Tomatoes

lego chef

This is a post from Noel, our new Rebel Chef! Over the past 7 year, Noel has experimented with various types of foods and diets. She was a vegetarian/vegan for 5 years, during which she discovered a passion for making food taste great. She has since moved on to eating like a cavewoman. Take it away Noel!

What if I told you that you could have bacon for dinner? (And breakfast for dinner doesn’t count.)

For some of our fellow Paleo companions, bacon is life. For others, it’s just breakfast. Although bacon for dinner can sometimes mean cooking bacon and eating that and only that for dinner, I’m here to teach you that you’re capable of so much more.

I want to be honest with you. The real star of this dish is kale. Personally, I love my dark leafy greens. And we could all probably use a little bit more of them in our diet. But when you see kale in the store, you might think, “what the heck am I supposed to do with that?” Maybe you even went out on a limb and bought some, but when you brought it home and put it in your salad, you found it sort of bitter and hard to chew. Big. Green. Disappointment. Believe me, guys, I’ve been there.

The good news is that this dish is super easy and quick to make (cooking the bacon takes the longest out of the whole recipe). Oh, and it tastes amazing. My lady friend won’t come near anything green or leafy, but she devoured this side dish in a bowl all by itself. So, consider this dish level 1 of cooking with dark leafy greens.

Kale, Bacon, and Tomatoes

finished kale

First, here is a quick video version of the recipe. Not all details are included, but you can see each step performed by me in a moving picture!

Kale, Bacon, and Tomatoes Video

Everyone enjoy that? Great! Here’s what you’ll need to make it:


kale bacon sautee

2 strips of bacon – Read Steve’s manifesto on bacon to get the low down on this famous cured meat.

1/2 bunch kale – There are a few different types of kale. The first is regular kale, it’s what you’ll see at most grocery stores. It is ruffly and a little tough. This makes it great for cooking things like kale chips. It looks like this:


The second type is lacintao kale. Aka dino kale. It is called dino kale because the leaves look like dinosaur skin. Way cool! Its leaves are smoother than regular kale and a little more tender. It looks like this:

dino kale

There is also baby kale, which is super tender and has the texture of salad greens. Red kale is like kale but with a purplish leaf.

You can use either regular kale or dino kale for this recipe. I find that regular kale is less expensive than dino kale, so I usually go for regular.

Tomatoes – In this recipe, I use a handful of (approx 10) little grape tomatoes, but you could also use one regular sized tomato if you like. Up to you!

1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar – Kale is tough. To soften it, it’s important to use an acid to help tenderize the leaves. For this particular recipe, I use balsamic vinegar because it has a little bit of sweetness and pairs well with the tomatoes and bacon, but you could also use lemon juice or lime juice.

Salt & Pepper –  Use to taste.

Red Pepper Flakes – Completely optional!


Frying pan
Cutting board
– (For flipping bacon. You could also use chop sticks. My grandma always cooks bacon with chop sticks. Only do this if you are a pro!)
Container for your bacon grease – Use something like a microwave and oven safe ceramic bowl. DO NOT USE GLASS OR PLASTIC. Plastic will melt, and if you heat up glass too quickly, it can shatter and ruin your life. We’ll be using the grease again after you remove it from the pan, so don’t get rid of the grease!


1. Heat up your frying pan on medium heat. You want it relatively hot so the bacon will start to cook right away when you put it in the pan. If you put your hand about 12 inches over the pan and you can feel heat radiating from it, your pan is ready!


2. Place your bacon in the pan. Aww yeah. Listen to that sizzle! Cooking the bacon actually takes the longest amount of time in this recipe, so that’s why we’re starting here. While your bacon is cooking, prep everything else!

bacon pan

3. Cut your tomatoes. If you are using little tomatoes, cut them in half. If you are using one large tomato, cut it into about eight pieces. For the bigger tomatoes, discard the top where the stem was sticking out of it. A mouth full of stem-base will ruin your dinner experience. If you are using small cherry or grape tomatoes, don’t worry about the tops. They are okay to eat.


4. Prep the kale. The hardest part of the kale is the stem, so we’re just going to get rid of this part for now. Cut the ruffly outer leaves from the inner stem. Or, just pull them apart with your hands. It’s okay if the big leaves don’t all come off in one piece.

chop kale

5. Once the leaves are separated from the stems, tear them into smaller, bite sized pieces.

bowl kale

6. At this point, your bacon is probably ready to be flipped. You want it cooked on both sides, so go ahead and use your tongs, a fork, or some chop sticks to flip it. Careful! That hot grease is not to be underestimated!

cook bacon

7. After the bacon is finished cooking, remove it from the pan. Place it on a paper towel. The towel will catch the grease. Let your bacon cool.

8. Pour excess bacon grease into a container. You are saving the grease for an upcoming step so don’t discard it! WARNING! Bacon grease is very very hot! Be super careful when pouring it out! You can get burned.

bacon grease

9. Place your pan back on the burner and pour your tomatoes into it. The tomatoes will immediately begin to sizzle and steam. Mix them up and press them down with your spatula onto the pan’s hot surface. You’ll want to let the tomatoes cook for about 3-5 minutes — just enough to let them start getting a little brown. Stir them occasionally. After they are cooked, remove them from the pan. (You can just pour them carefully back into the bowl you had them in before, or put them back on your cutting board.)

cook tomato

cook tomato 2

10. Now place your kale in the pan. It will likely overflow. That’s okay. As the kale heats up and cooks down, it is going to wilt and shrink. Eventually it will all fit in the pan.

11. Remember that bacon grease you poured out earlier? Now is the time to use it! Pour it all over the kale. At this point, you can add your salt and pepper too. If you’re feeling adventurous, red pepper flakes go nicely on kale as well!

bacon kale

12. Stir the bacon grease and kale. The kale will probably not have wilted enough yet. Patience, my precious. Let the kale cook for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you let the kale sit on the bottom of the pan, it will burn, so keep mixing!

stir kale

Eventually your kale will turn a little bit of a darker shade of green and become somewhat shiny from being coated in oil. This is what you want. The leaves will lose their toughness and wilt. Getting closer!

13. While you’re waiting for the kale to cook down, chop up your bacon!

chop bacon

14. Now that your kale is cooked, we’re going to add back the tomatoes and bacon. Yeah! Toss them back into the pan and mix it up.

mix bacon

15. Last but not least, add your vinegar. As soon as you add the vinegar, take the pan off of the heat. Don’t keep your face close to the pan for this step. As the vinegar reduces and some of it evaporates, you can risk breathing in the vinegar fumes. If this happens, it will not be pleasant.


And now you’re ready to enjoy this dish! It can be eaten on its own as a snack or along side some grilled chicken, broiled fish, or a steak! Kale goes with pretty much anything!

finished kale

Get cookin’

get cookin

Most people are not remotely as excited about kale (and really, all our leafy green friends) as they are about bacon. Let’s hope this changes hearts and minds: You can have your kale and eat bacon too!

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that kale is practically nature’s multivitamin at a discount price. What are you waiting for? Get cookin’!

What are some of your favorite ways to serve kale?

Are there any veggies, fruits, or meats that you want to try but aren’t sure how to prepare them?

Let us know by leaving us a comment and we’ll help you out!



Music in video: Peterloo Massacre “Never Forget”

photo source: nettsu: lego magazine, loozrboy: lego chef

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    91 thoughts on “How to Saute Kale, Bacon, and Tomatoes

    1. This looks so tasty! One of my faves is kale sauteed in coconut oil, scrambled into a couple of eggs with a bit of crumbled bacon and a shake of feta cheese. Nom nom nom.

    2. I’ve always wanted to try spaghetti squash. But I still don’t know how it looks like (I know how it looks like on a photo, but I can’t recognize it in a supermarket). 😀

    3. As someone who tries to hide kale in food she likes because she hates it, I’m totally going to try this. Thanks, Noel! Excited to have you on board with us 🙂

    4. I eat kale or chard 3-4 times per week. Here’s a simple recipe: Chop onions (red are best); Sautee onions and smooshed garlic in olive oil. Add about 1/2 cup of water once the onions are sauteed. Add the kale, which you’ve already chopped; put a lid on the pan. Let it steam for a few minutes. If there’s any excess water, drain it. Add peperoncini juice (preferred) or lemon juice and salt.


    5. Spaghetti squash looks like a gigantic yellow egg. A good sized one is about the size of a football (maybe a little smaller), but they can be smaller than that. They can vary in shades from pale, pale yellow (almost white) to dark lemon yellow. Think of them as a yellow, oblong pumpkin.

    6. I tried so hard to eat kale. Unfortunately, kale is a FODMAP and doesn’t like me back. Luckily, I can do similar things with spinach. And anything with bacon is the best!

    7. That sounds great! Part of being a great cook is figuring out what works for you and substituting those ingredients for foods that don’t.

    8. Oh man. Totally understandable. Spinach is one of my other favorite leafy greens to cook with. I think I’ll try this combo out with spinach now…

    9. I love any excuse to eat bacon but goodness this looks yum..going to have to try this out tonight!

    10. In the south it was referred to as the “poor man’s salad”, it used a pinch of sugar and cider vinegar in the baking grease, then poured over the greens.

    11. Hi Noel, Could you teach us how to roast vegetables? Everyone says roasted veggies are amazing, but mine come out soggy every time. Maybe you can’t start with frozen? Maybe the heat needs to be higher? More oil? Less? More time? Less? Ack.

    12. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! This was so awesome to open up and read… quick recipes are always welcomed in my inbox!! Yummmmmmmie!!

    13. I sat down with dinner containing sauteed kale (in coconut oil) and some tomatoes cooked up in the frying pan on their own and just then the nerdfitness email for this post arrived in my inbox. Fantastic timing.

    14. This came at the perfect time. Ive only been using kale in my smoothies until yesterday when I tried it in a salad. Needless to say I wasn’t a fan. I will definitely be making this over the weekend it sounds great and who can’t use more kale in their diet. Thank you.

    15. I’ve never liked Kale because I have only had it in salads and it was way too bitter. What is the flavor like when it’s cooked? Is it similar to spinach?

    16. I have been making pots of “Green Soup” using a pound of kale and a big bag of spinach. Carmelize onions in olive oil, while boiling water in a soup pot with the kale and spinach. The recipe I have calls for a 1/4 cup of arborio rice, but it works well without. Once the greens are wilty, add the onions, 4 cups (a box) of vegetable broth, a big pinch of cayenne pepper, let that go for about 15 minutes, then puree. I puree it in the blender in batches, since I don’t have a hand-held puree-thingy.
      My husband and I have been eating this like crazy. It’s da-licious!

    17. This is such an american post! “Go ahead and flip your bacon, you want it cooked on both sides”, “warning! Grease is hot!” Haha!

    18. I love kale. In general, leafy greens sauteed and drizzled with vinegars, yum!
      It would be neat, with Noel’s experience, if recipes such as this were accompanied by a suggestion or two for preparing the dish without meat. Meat eaters and vegetarians could unite!

    19. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a hot pan with my bare hands! Accidents happen and it never hurts to be reminded!

    20. Hi Naomi! I’m so glad you asked! I can definitely cover this in a future post, but for right now, I’d say try roasting some fresh veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, or carrots. Cut them evenly and toss them in oil, salt and pepper. When you put them on the pan, make sure they aren’t too crowded. When they’re piled on top of each other, they steam instead of roasting, which can make them soggy. Roast them at about 425 degrees F for about 30-45 min. Make sure to stir them with a spatula a couple of times as they brown so that they brown fairly evenly. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

    21. Thanks for being so excited about this post! I hope you enjoy eating this as much has you enjoyed reading about it.

    22. Awesome. I love kale in smoothies and juices too. Cooked kale has a much different flavor than raw and takes seasoning really well. I hope you enjoy this recipe.

    23. Personally, I think kale loses most of its bitterness when it is cooked. It does taste similar to spinach, though the texture is a bit tougher. It also takes really well to spices and flavorings you add to it, which is why sautéing in bacon grease and adding vinegar is really helpful for people who are new to kale. Sometimes I’ll add red pepper flake and lemon juice (acids like vinegar or lemon help make it less tough). Give it a second chance cooked. You might enjoy it!

    24. Big. Green. Disappointment. That was EXACTLY how I described kale. Mostly because I didn’t know what to do with it. You have convinced me to give it another shot.

    25. Awesome suggestion Kasey. I’ll consider this for future posts. Jules Clancy over at The Stone Soup ( does a great job of this type of thing. Her recipes are generally Slow Carb rather than Paleo but a lot of them are super easy and inspiring. Vegetarians, paleo eaters, etc. actually have much more in common than many of them would like to admit. Most diets that people find success with actually have a lot in common (low sugar, no wheat, less grains, real food, etc.) Really, what people thrive on is dependent on their own genetic makeup rather than someone else’s dogma. Paleo is a great place to start, but it’s very likely as we pursue health we have to make individual adjustments along the way (see Steve’s post on plateaus!) We have to find out what works for is as individuals.

    26. This is the same basic recipe as wilted lettuce. My mother in law from Tennessee taught me how to make this 40 years ago. Only she used leaf lettuce right from the garden and served it over new red potatoes (boiled) also fresh from the garden. Delicious!

    27. I love to saute kale/spinach and scramble it with my eggs, grilled ham and some cheese for breakfast with cloves of garlic, a little salt and pepper and evoo.

    28. OHHH ok. I always thought that those funny shaped beige things are spaghetti squashes…. the things under the spagghetti squash? What are they?

    29. Heh, actually I had put tuna on top, though I did also sautee spinach, shard and arugula with the kale.

    30. The beige ones are butternut squash. Great for roasting and in soups, but they don’t form “noodles” in the way spaghetti squash does.

    31. I’m gonna tell you a secret. I have never tried kale in scrambled eggs. But considering how many people here seem to eat it this way, I’ll have to give it a try.

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