Braised Tuscan Kale with Butternut Squash Soffritto

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Sarah Grueneberg and Kate Heddings/Listen to Your Vegetables

You could toss that kale into the same old salad and call it a day…or you could use the opportunity to create a stunning new side dish, like this braised Tuscan kale with butternut squash soffrito from Sarah Grueneberg and Kate Heddings’s new cookbook, Listen to Your Vegetables.

“I have a love affair with both Tuscan kale and soffritto, so this dish really speaks to me,” Grueneberg writes. “Soffritto is the building block of most great sauces and braises in the Italian kitchen. It typically consists of vegetables, aromatics, fat (bacon or olive oil) and tomatoes to help caramelize it. Tuscan kale is my kale of choice, because it holds its texture when cooked—its bumpy leaves are perfect for grabbing onto the soffritto and tomato sauce. But this can also be made with many different greens too, like cabbage, bok choy or Swiss chard.”

From Listen to Your Vegetables by Sarah Grueneberg and Kate Heddings. Copyright © 2022 by Green Mountain Collection, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

White Wine Braised Leeks


3 ounces pancetta or thick-cut bacon, diced (½ cup)

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1½ cups diced butternut squash (see Notes)

1 small red onion, finely chopped

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

One 14½-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 large or 3 small bunches of Tuscan kale—washed, stemmed and leaves torn into 3-inch pieces

1½ cups chicken or vegetable stock

Freshly ground black pepper


1. In a large saucepot, cook the pancetta in the olive oil over medium-high heat until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to a paper towel–lined plate.

2. Return the pot to medium heat. Add the squash and onion and season with a heavy pinch of salt. Cook until the vegetables are softened and beginning to caramelize, 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Add the thyme and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen the brown bits from the pancetta on the bottom of the pot. Add the crushed tomatoes and cook until thickened and reduced by more than half, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Add the kale and slowly wilt it into the vegetable mixture, stirring. Season with another pinch or two of salt. Add the stock and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the kale is softened and the mixture has cooked down and formed a thick, stew-like consistency, 20 to 25 minutes. Taste for seasoning. I like to finish the braised greens with lots of black pepper. Serve with the crispy pancetta on top.


I recommend using precut squash from the produce department of your grocery store. Otherwise, 1 small or ½ medium squash will do here.

You can easily make this dish vegetarian. Substitute 1 cup of stemmed, sliced shiitake mushrooms for the bacon and increase the olive oil to 2 tablespoons.