This flavorful and nutrient-rich side dish was inspired by one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, homemade cranberry sauce with oranges. With Thanksgiving being just a few days away, I figured I would get myself in the spirit and use this flavor combination in a different application. It is kind of unusual to pair fruit with a braised dark leafy green such as kale, but they played just beautifully together. The sweet and tangy cranberries and oranges complimented and balanced the savoriness of the earthy kale and sauteed shallots.
I had picked up two gorgeous bunches of kale at last weekends farmers market, one was Red Russian kale and the other Lacinato kale (a.k.a. Tuscan, Black or Dinosaur kale). Both were so vibrant and beautiful that I couldn't choose which I would rather cook with this week, so I got one of each and ended up using both bunches in this dish. Both Russian kale and Lacinato kale are tender varieties of kale and take about the same amount of time to braise so I did not run into any issues with cooking them together. If you choose a curly kale, you will probably need to up the braising time a little as that variety tends to be a little hardier.
Served with seared North Atlantic sea scallops and whole wheat couscous, we had ourselves quite a delicious and healthy fall weeknight meal. Now if only I stopped at one square of dark chocolate for dessert, but that's neither here nor there...
Braised Kale with Cranberries & Oranges
1/3 c. dried cranberries
1 1/2 c. water, divided1 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, sliced thinly
2 bunches Red Russian or Lacinato kale, coarse stems removed & roughly chopped
2 Navel oranges
salt & pepper
Bring 1 c. water to a simmer and pour over dried cranberries. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until tender. Addin kale, stirring occasionally until it has wilted down a bit.
While the kale is wilting, supreme the oranges by using a paring knife. (To "supreme" is just a fancy French term for slicing out the segments of a citrus fruit from the pith- see photo on right.) Reserve the segments and squeeze the juice from the de-segmented orange into the pot with kale. Add 1/2 c. water to the pot as well, stir and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let braise for 30 minutes or until very tender.
Remove lid and allow any excess liquid to evaporate. Drain the reconstituted cranberries and stir in the cranberries and orange segments. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.