Sunday was my final day of a much-needed break. After four months of going hard at my new job, I was desperate for a little physical and mental recovery time. I took a few long walks, drank more than my fair share of a wide variety of adult beverages, watched some movies, caught up with dear friends, halfheartedly read a book, organized my apartment, did a little yoga, cooked and was cooked for, and generally tried to live a life of leisure. Needless to say it all went by a little faster than expected.
I spent my last day of vacation reading, napping and making a big vat of beans and greens to get me through what was promising to be a long, dark and cold workweek.
Braised Kale & Cannellini
- 1 pound cannellini, soaked overnight and for up to two days
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 ounces guanciale, cubed
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup white wine
- 4 cubes frozen chicken stock
- 4 carrots, diced
- 1 parmesan or romano rind (optional, but oh so good)
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Bring the olive oil up to medium heat in a large dutch oven. Add the guanciale and cook stirring frequently until it is partially rendered. Add the onions and continue stirring until the onions are nicely browned. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and cook for another minute or two.
- Add the wine, chicken stock, carrots, cheese rind, fresh herbs and enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let this go for an hour or so while you take a nap with the cat. Give it a stir, add a little water if needed, and let it go for at least another hour, during which time you might consider another nap.
- When the beans are cooked but still a little al dente, add the kale, red wine vinegar and a generous portion of salt and pepper. Pop the lid on and cook for at least another half hour, but no harm in letting it go quite a bit longer given the toothsome nature of winter kale. (A third nap would be excessive, right?) Season with additional salt, pepper or red wine vinegar as you see fit.
I ended up serving this to my travel-weary sister Hannah and her husband Rick along with thick slices of whole wheat sourdough toasted in a generous pour of olive oil–an ideal vehicle for soaking up the rich broth. I finally persuaded my nephew to try one of the beans. Let’s just say that Wally was not a fan.
Later we all piled into the car to travel the mile and a half to where Hannah and Rick would be spending the very first night in their new house. While his parents struggled to make the place habitable, Wally and I read stories amidst the cardboard boxes in his new bedroom and played a modified version of beer pong using a tape ball left by the painting crew.
At some point, Wally dragged a pillow into the middle of the living room and curled up with his blanket.
I knew just how he felt. I got home just in time to pack up the leftover food and climb into bed. Come Monday, this hearty stew made for a nice lunch whilst hunkered over my keyboard desperately trying to get a series of spreadsheets to bend to my will. Yep, vacation is over.