Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, so it is time to start counting our blessings. Not, of course, that I am ungrateful at other times of year—but it is the official season for gratitude. They say that at the first Thanksgiving the pilgrims (I always picture them in construction paper Puritan hats and collars, just like we wore for elementary school reenactments), and the Native Americans had dinner together and were thankful for corn and religious freedom and probably some other things, too.
It is so often contrast that creates gratitude. If we always have something, it is easy to take it for granted. That goes for the big things like family, friends, warmth, shelter or food, and the small every day things as well. It is change that gets our attention–it is when we have something new or when we feel an unexpected lack that we notice.
Yesterday I worked in a room with daylight coming through the window, until twilight and then dark closed in. I hardly noticed the cold evening outside until I finally got up from my computer, stretched, and drew the curtains. As soon as I closed the curtains I was struck by how much warmer the room suddenly felt. The night was shut out, the lamplight seemed brighter and more golden, the room was now a cozy haven from the world outside. I have pulled those curtains countless times, but in that brief moment I felt the pleasure of it and was grateful.
Whenever I have a run of several rich, complicated meals in a row, I start to hunger for something quick, simple and vegetal. These kale wraps, which could just as well be made with chard or other greens, were created in response to that need for contrast. They are warm and filling and surprisingly umami for such a simple set of ingredients.
Kale Pita Wraps
Drain a 12-oz container of firm tofu. Cut into sticks (about ¼ inch wide). Lightly coat a sheet pan with oil. Place tofu sticks in a single layer on pan and put under broiler for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn tofu with a spatula and return to broiler for a few more minutes—just until lightly browned.
Wash kale, remove rigid spines, and tear into pieces. In a large sauté pan or wok, place kale and about ½ cup water over medium-high heat and cover. Steam for about 5 minutes, or until limp. Take off lid and let any remaining water evaporate. Remove kale and heat 1 tsp olive oil in wok. Saute several (8 or 9, or whatever you’ve got) sliced mushrooms along with about ¼ cup diced onion. Return kale to wok. Add 1 clove of crushed garlic. Add tofu sticks. Stir gently until combined. Salt to taste.
Serve a heap of the kale mixture on a warmed pita that has been smeared with hummus.
Makes 5-6 servings.