Crispy Pancetta with Kale - Chef Abbie Gellman MS, RD, CDN

Crispy Pancetta with Kale

Chef Abbie Gellman RD

Kale is proving to be beyond just a fad food as more and more people are discovering its amazing health benefits. Check out my recipe for Crispy Pancetta with Kale and see how I cook my kale down with garlic and pancetta to give it amazing flavor.

How to make Crispy Pancetta with Kale

First de-stem the kale and slice the leaves into ½-inch strips.  Set aside.  Next, heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.  Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally until light brown, approximately 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt.  Cook, stirring, about 30 seconds.

Finally, add kale and cook, stirring occasionally until kale is cooked and pancetta is crisp.  This will take about 5 minutes.  Add lemon juice and zest to brighten the flavor and cut through the fat of the pancetta.  Toss together and there you have it—my Kale with Crispy Pancetta!

Kale Nutrition

You may have heard about Kale, and for good reason!  It is packed full of good nutrition.  A serving of kale provides almost all of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.  Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant in your body by reducing free radicals.  This helps slow down the aging process, reduces inflammation, and assists a healthy immune system!  Kale also contains vitamin A, which is good for eyesight, bone health, and the immune system.

I prefer to cook my kale, because it improves the texture and also decreases in size.  This means you can eat more kale in a smaller volume.  If you don’t like cooked greens, you could also massage your kale with olive oil and salt to yield the softer texture when eaten raw.

If you don’t have Kale on hand, you can use any other leafy green like spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, or watercress.  All of these dark leafy greens are nutritious and work great with this recipe.

Crispy Pancetta?  But isn’t fat bad for me?

Pancetta is the Italian version of bacon.  It is pork belly meat that is cured with salt.  Dietary Fat got a bad rap over the years, but it is actually an important nutrient that we need in our diets.  Fats are needed to provide your body with energy, to protect your organs, support cell growth, and keep your body warm.  Some nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K need fat to be properly absorbed in your body.  It is also required to produce hormones.  The small amount of crispy pancetta in this recipe provides some fat, but mostly provides a depth of flavor that makes the kale taste even more delicious.

Similar Pages

Looking for more side dishes?  Try my Spinach Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Citrus Dressing, Baked Asparagus with Lemon, and Roasted Acorn Squash!


“Dietary Fats.” American Heart Association,

“What Are the Health Benefits of Dino Kale?” Have A Plant,

kale pancetta

Kale with Pancetta

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: holiday side dish, kale
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Chef Abbie Gellman RD


  • 4 bunches Kale I like lacinto, but curly variety is fine
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces pancetta sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced thin
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Juice of half lemon
  • Zest of half lemon


  • Destem the kale and slice leaves into ½ inch strips. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat, add oil. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown approximately 4-5 minutes.
  • Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds.
  • Add kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is cooked and pancetta is crisp, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice and zest, toss.


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