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Hale and hearty

Today is Monday dressed up in Thursday's clothing. Of this, I am certain.

Unexpected company for the last two days led to Tuesday and Wednesday's schedules taking on the traits of Saturday and Sunday respectively, with a weekend-ish pace to boot. But that didn't mean we were exempt from the requirements of midweek days, so that was packed in too.

Today is back to its usual routine, behaving decidedly like the start of the week rather than the end.

But the calendar says it is Thursday, and the fourth Thursday of November at that, which makes it American Thanksgiving. But then, all the chatter about turkeys and pies and pumpkins conjures memories of the Canadian holiday of the same name, which we celebrated in October. On the second Monday of the month to be precise.

Here we are, back to Monday. On Thursday. I'm not sure if I should be coming or going, getting ready to face a new week or eager to bid goodbye one.

Thank goodness that on this Monday-ish Thursday there is still some kale around. Kale might not sound like a consolation, but when your mind is awhirl, a plate of kale is as good as a spot as any to choose to settle gently. In fact, I would say that on a rainy fall evening that nothing is more soothing than sitting someplace comfy, tucking your feet up, and scooping up your supper by the emerald forkful.

This kale is roughly torn, with some of the bitterness blanched out of its leaves before it slumps into a pile of soft onions and garlic. As it hits the heat, the resulting steam is savourily-aromatic, damp and dense with the vegetal essence of sturdy greens. After cooking the kale softens to supple leatheriness, its sinewy leaves still hale and hearty but more relaxed. Fleshy crowns of walnuts add autumnal bulk, and cranberries give both a tempered sweetness and an appreciated touch of acidity.

The final effect is one of Rudolph among the evergreens, complete with the white flecks of a light snowfall; and as this Thursday is the last before December, it might be perfect timing.

Kale with walnuts and cranberries
A interpretation of recipes from Gourmet, available here and here.

1 pound kale, washed well, trimmed of tough ribs and torn into large pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

Boil the kale until bright green and just tender, about 5 minutes. Immediately plunge the greens into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cooled, drain well but do not squeeze.

In the same pot over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occassionally, until the onion is fragrant and beginning to turn translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Tumble in the walnuts, tossing to coat well with the butter/oil. Continue to cook until the nuts are golden and lightly toasted, around 2 minutes. Stir in the cranberries.

Using your hands or tongs, separate the kale as best as you can and add to the pot. Stir to combine, and continue to turn the leaves through the onion and walnut mixture until they are warmed through and softened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4.

Reader Comments (19)

This sounds lovely!

November 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWhitney

This looks so amazing! My mouth is watering.

November 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

This is my kind of dish. Could one substitute the kale with chard? I find it very difficult to get hold of kale here in the RS of A.

November 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKoek!

I love kale. Never would have thought to mix it with cranberries! Super idea.

November 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

yes please, I want a gigantic plate of this! Tara, you seriously make food sound alive.. like it is an old friend of yours. Consistenly impressed.

November 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersara

I've been totally into kale for a couple years. I'm sure this will become part of the procession...

November 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Leftoverist

I just stumbled onto your blog and I'm mesmerised...The colours, your words, the food... it completely blows my mind.

If the saying "simplicity is best" needs proving, yours is right up there to take the cake. Thanks for sharing for the beautiful images and sweet words.

November 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRabbittrick

Wow - not sure which I prefer, the idea of kale and cranberries, or your gorgeous description of it. "Emerald forkful" = my new favourite way to describe winter greens. Will be making this tomorrow.

November 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteremvandee

Oh my. I've never been one for sweets in my kale (no raisins in my spinach, sorry), but "rudolph among the evergreens" has stolen my heart! Perhaps I need to try again. Lovely image.

November 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermolly

this looks delicious

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDallas Shaw

Whitney and Annie, thank you for the compliments.

Koek, I am sure chard would work. In fact, there is a great recipe from the New York Times for chard that has similar flavours -" rel="nofollow">Chard with Pine nuts and Currants.

Barbara, I hadn't thought of the combination either, until I came across the recipe from Gourmet. Since I'd enjoyed the NYT recipe (see above), I thought I'd give it a go - I was pleasantly surprised.

sara, ditto, my friend.

The Leftoverist, I am the sole kale lover in my household (though in soups it's enjoyed), so it is nice to have company. I am doing my best to convert others!

Rabbittrick, thank you so much for the kindness.

emvandee, I hope you enjoy it!

molly, I'm really with you. I am not usually one to sweeten up my greens, but the tang of the cranberries save this for me - there is an acidic brightness that works almost like a citrus rather than an outright sweetener. If you do try it, please let us know what you think.

Thanks for saying, Dallas Shaw.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertara

Ah, one of my favorites. I think kale certainly is a are absolutely right. You have captured it perfectly.

December 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteralana

mmm, this sounds perfect.

December 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhannah | honey & jam

My goodness, this is what I love about Internet. I visited your site for the 1st time, as a result of the new Menu for hope drive identifying this blog as the Canadian host. And was immediately charmed by what I found here. I will definitely try your recipes, you have a lovely blog and beautiful voice and style. Tx.

December 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynne Faubert

Delicious. I love kale and I'm always trying to find other ways to prepare it. This looks perfect--I just love the touch of cranberry.

December 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlisa @ dandysugar

Just two weeks ago I didn't like the taste of Kale at all (honestly I had only tried it a couple of times). Then we tried a recipe for a" rel="nofollow">Kale & Quinoa salad that tasted amazing, and now I'm looking all over the web for new Kale recipes. This sounds just as good. What an inspiring blog you have!

I am trying to be a vegan and this dish is an inspiration that not all green and healthy does not good taste!

December 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdressers

I love kale, but have never considered pairing it with walnuts and cranberries--great idea!

December 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChez Danisse

Tara - I made this dish tonight for dinner and it was so tasty! Thank you for sharing another winning recipe...

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea [bella eats]

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