Warm Coconut and Pancetta Kale


When you want something green on your plate but don’t feel like salad, then this warm coconut and pancetta kale is a go-to side dish. It pairs well with any type of meat or seafood. It’s easy to make. And although kale can taste good raw with just a drizzle of lemon and olive oil, it tastes really good with crispy pancetta, creamy coconut milk, and lots of garlic.

In fact, if you want to make these greens the main course and serve a small portion of protein on the side, go for it. Prepared this way, kale is filling and satisfying. Meat and seafood always have a place on the Primal table, but optimally, so does mineral-and-antioxidant-rich plant matter.

Eating leafy greens is like taking a whole food “supplement” with naturally safe and well-balanced vitamin and mineral levels. In this particular case, it’s an incredibly delicious supplement.

Is your vegetable crisper is full of greens that you have good intentions to eat before they go bad? Then use them in this recipe. In addition to kale, this recipe also works well with greens like collards and Swiss chard (or, a combination of greens).

Servings: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 30 minutes



  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter (15 ml)
  • 3 to 5 ounces pancetta, diced (85 to 140 g)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 small bunches lacinato kale, leaves torn from stems and cut into thin strips
  • 1/3 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (80 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (2.5 ml)


Heat oil or butter in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until just crispy. Add garlic and shallot. Cook until shallot is soft, 5 minutes. If the garlic looks like it’s getting too dark, turn down the heat.

Add kale a couple handfuls at a time, letting the leaves wilt a little before adding more. Mix well with the pancetta, garlic and shallots. When all the kale is in the skillet, sauté as long as desired, either leaving the kale slightly raw or cooking it longer until the leaves are very soft.


Add coconut milk and red pepper flakes. Stir well and cook a minute or two more, until the coconut milk is absorbed by the kale.

Remove from heat and serve. This dish also tastes good at room temperature.


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13 thoughts on “Warm Coconut and Pancetta Kale”

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  1. I prefer my salad greens lightly cooked in some oil(s). I only eat baby kale though. The fully mature stuff needs to be fed to a critter that can chew it’s cud, then I’ll eat the critter.

  2. Looks delicious! We’re having steak tomorrow so guess we have a side dish now. Thanks!

    1. Pancetta is somewhat like bacon. Comes in round, thin slices. In our area you get it at the deli counter.

    2. Pancetta is Italian bacon; cured, but not smoked. Delicious. Milder in flavor than traditional bacon.

  3. I would love to be a fan of all things coconut, but that’s probably not going to happen in this lifetime. Fortunately, this delicious-looking recipe could probably be made with heavy cream too.

  4. Excellent recipe! I knew I would find something good to eat tonight. Dumping this on my once in a great while baked potato. Yum.

  5. Am I the only one saddened when nutrition experts are forced into comparing eating a healthy vegetable with taking a supplement?

    Like… HEY, you know those pills you take? This is kinda like that! … how backwards have we gotten? … 🙁

  6. I don’t think coconut would be the best choice here, how about some labneh instead?

  7. We regularly adapt this recipe for use as a great breakfast – no garlic or coconut milk, just chopped red onion and snipped-up bacon (bacon goes a long way like this, more of a condiment) stir-fried in coconut oil, with the kale then added until hot and wilted. The red onion adds sweetness to the kale and the children love it.

  8. If you want to add additional protein but keep everything in one pan, then add some diced chicken in with the pancetta. It’ll brown as the pancetta crisps, and will be fully cooked by the time the dish is done.

    It also goes really well with salmon.

    When I make this I double the recipe and use half pancetta/half prosciutto (the prosciutto makes it even more flavorful). I then portion it out into meals for the week; it keeps/reheats nicely.