Sweet Potato and Kale Stew

I have a thing for coconut curries with green and yellow flavours- tumeric, cilantro, lemon grass, cardamom, cumin. Orange winter squashes and root vegetables get elevated to new heights when their sweetness is offset with bright, aromatic notes. I make dishes like this often…. But this time I wanted something different. I wanted a wholesome, light, healthy stew with simple flavours and down-home appeal. This recipe started as an attempt to move away from what I usually do with big old sweet potato. The traditional herb seasoning and addition of hearty kale and split peas make this stew reminiscent of rustic French cooking… or that’s what I like to tell myself, anyway. My experience with French cooking is limited to the three years of home-study of my grandmother’s Julia Child cookbooks in my pre-vegan cooking days and a highschool class trip. Either way, this is exactly what I need when I’ve been abusing my body with too much salt and spice and fat. Good clean food.

Sweet Potato and Kale Stew

3 carrots, sliced thickly
3 stalks of celery, sliced
2 yellow onions, diced
8-10 cloves of garlic, minced, divided in two piles
1 very large sweet potato (the orange kind), peeled and diced
2 bunches of curly kale (though I’m sure any kind would do), stems removed, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup dry yellow split peas

Tied together with kitchen twine… or dental floss:
1 bay leaf
1 3-inch sprig of rosemary
2 3-inch sprigs of thyme
2 3-inch sprigs or parsley
1 tsp summer savoury

Splashes of low-sodium tamari
Juice of one lemon

Cook split peas according to package directions. Caramelize onions slowly over medium-low heat in a bit of olive oil. When translucent and golden (about ten minutes), add carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add sweet potatoes and enough water to cover all the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and add herb bundle. Simmer for about half an hour, or until vegetables are meltingly tender. Add split peas and kale, lemon juice and tamari to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until kale is cooked but still bright green.

This little one was very interested in the whole process. His brother and sister were somewhat less enthused about the strange lady making lots of noise in their kitchen.

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