I have never been a big New Year’s resolution maker or keeper. Already a gym go-er, I instead find myself grumbling about how crowded the facilities get the first few weeks of each year.
This year was different. This year, I was 29 on NYE. There has been much written in the psych literature about the effect of ages that end in ‘9’ on peoples’ psyches. Something about closing out a decade causes us to re-evaluate, weighing and measuring the state of our lives, the circumstances and choices that got us there, and how we might go about transforming for the better. While I had already stolen my own thunder by quitting my surgical residency at 28, I still felt the pull of -‘9’ induced self-evaluation. This year, I decided, would be the year I would finally try to get 6-pack abs (or at least some level of ab definition… I’m not really looking for the female body-builder aesthetic).
So far I have been failing spectacularly at enacting any sort of plan that will get me any closer to that goal. I was still at the tail end of interview season for anesthesiology last month, with all of the travel and recruiting dinners that entails. Fortunately, our January dinner obsession has provided some measure of balance.
Dennis and I have long been prone to dinner phases, making the same dishes over and over for weeks or months at a time. This winter, the dinner-on-repeat has been a 5-ingredient kale and white-bean one-pot wonder. This dish looks (and is) simple, but the flavors produced are much more than the sum of their parts. The creaminess of the cannellini beans balance the bitter crunch of the kale, while the tang of the capers balance the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes. We’ve made this for dinner at least a dozen times so far, and show no signs of slowing down.
Magic Kale (or, Kale with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and White Beans)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced (or cut into thin strips… whatever)
- 1 12-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 10 cups kale (we eyeball this… or just dump in an entire bag of kale from Trader Joes. Also, any kind works – I’ve used tuscan kale, curly kale, un-named TJ’s kale…)
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (plus 1 T oil, if using the packed-in-oil kind)
- 3 T capers (plus reserved brine)
Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1-2 T neutral oil. When oil is hot and shimmering, add onions. When onions are translucent and beginning to brown at the edges, add kale and reduce heat to medium. Once kale starts to cook down, add sun-dried tomatoes (and tomato oil), capers (and caper brine), and white beans. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until beans are warmed through and kale is wilted but not totally limp. Remove from heat and serve.
Note #1 – we use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil and pour in ~1T of the tomato oil along with the tomatoes; similarly, we pour in 1-2 t of caper brine along with the jarred capers. Both additions make a BIG difference in the flavor of the final product. If out of caper brine, you could add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to add a bit of acidity.
Note #2 – this can be riffed several different ways. We have eaten this along-side a fried egg as a brunch dish, and have mixed in linguini when we had last-minute dinner guests and needed to make things stretch.