Skillet-sautéed Kale

Hello all!  Okay so here is my take, mainly based on the African-American foodways of that time.

In honor of the the Fourth of July I wanted to share recipes I like – using a staple of African-American food experience, black-eye peas, greens and other ingredients.  In fact, according to Herbert C. Covey who wrote a book called “What Slaves Ate:  recollections of African American Foods and Foodways from Slave Narratives” slave even ate black-eyed peas on the slave ships from Africa to the Americas, along with peanuts, yams among others.

Not surprising the Fourth of July has historically been a somewhat controversial holiday for African-Americans.  Many thought “Should we celebrate the freedom of America, when we do not have our own.”  In fact in 1830 when many states in the South were not ending slavery African-Americans in New York and other Northern states began celebrating July 5th, as a protest to the continued bondage of African-Americans in this country.

But the early history of African-Americans though linked to slavery, is not exclusive to this fact not even at the time of revolution.  Crispus Attucks, is considered to be the first casualty of the American Revolution, killed in the “Boston Massacre,” March 5, 1770.

Depiction of Crispus Attucks

Given that slavery in the Americas extended down to the Caribbean and South America, I wanted to pick a recipe that offered the flavor of the entire Americas.  So enjoy and celebrate the freedom of America and the eventual freedom of the Black men and women who did so much to build this country.

Skillet-sautéed Kale

I love greens!  Oh how I love you, let me count the ways.  One of my favorite is the Italian traditional Greens and Beans, yummy.  I grew up with my dad making greens, mainly kale with turkey bones in them, a replacement of the African-American tradition of using ham hocks.

Because I am a bit of a lazy cook, I cannot do the whole big pot and stew, stew forever greens, though I appreciate the taste.  This is a nice fast way to get greens on your plate without sweating out your lovely hair do.

1-2 bunches of kale

½ of a medium to large yellow or white onion

3-5 cloves of garlic

Olive Oil




Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Hot sauce (optional)

Clean and drain the kale.  But not fully dry, leaving some of the moisture on the kale helps with the cooking.  (My friend Nancy Block Ried taught me that trick!)  Cut them up in small pieces about ½-1” long and around, remove the center stem (these a tad bitter for my taste).  In a large bowl collect the cut up kale.

Mince the garlic and set them in a small mixing bowl.  Also cut up the union in small pieces.  I like to mix them up a bit so when I grab a handful to cook with the kale, I have a nice mix of both garlic and onion.

In a large skillet heat up some olive oil over medium heat, when the skillet is heated through in about a ¼ of the garlic and onion mix.  Just get them started and not fully brown then throw in two handfuls of the kale.  Add fresh grown pepper, salt, red pepper flakes and oregano.  Stir, spin and mix it up, being careful not to burn the garlic.  When the kale starts to take on a deeper green shade and slightly wilt (but not in a bad way).  Take the kale out and put it a large pot or dish that you can cover.

Repeat until all the kale is cooked, always adding a fresh batch of garlic and onion as you go along.

I like to serve mine with hot sauce on it, but leave it on the side if that is not your thing.

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