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November 2006
Giving Thanks from Field to Fork
Recipe by Annie Novak

My first fall out of college, I moved upstate to work on Keith Stewart’s organic farm in Port Jervis, New York. Thanksgiving was one of the last big hooplas we had on the farm before we all went our separate ways for the winter.

By late November the green and blue sea of our kale crops had sweetened in the creeping frost. The rosemary was kept warm in the plastic tunnel alongside our trailer homes, and the endless stock of garlic looked vibrant.

Snow had started making surprise appearances, but on Thanksgiving Day we still managed to put together a bountiful multi-course meal. We ate mashed Kennebeck potatoes, a celeriac casserole, gingered carrots, wine-roasted turnips, sautéed kale and broccoli, butternut and acorn squash soups and (of course) pumpkin and apple pie. We also made mulled wine, sugar cookies and cornbread. It was indeed a thanks-giving table, rich with the pure and deep-rooted pleasure of eating food we had raised together from the ground.

The following recipe is a great way to use some of Keith’s winter crop of kale, leeks and garlic, which are available at the Union Square Greenmarket.

Sweet Winter Kale with Leeks and Garlic
It’s a great vegan recipe, with my friend’s genius idea of adding lentils for protein.

2 Pounds of Kale (Any kind will do, but Winterbor is good)
1 Large Leek
3 T. Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves or more, peeled and cut into fine slivers
2 C. Vegetable Stock
Optional: 1 C. Lentils. I also like adding raisins and letting them plump up in the covered pan after I’ve turned off the stove.

1. Wash the kale and cut the leaves crosswise into small ribbons.

2. Cut off and compost the very green section of the leek. Dice remaining pale green and white part and wash thoroughly in a colander, draining well.

3. Put the oil and garlic in a wide pan and set over medium-high heat. When it starts to sizzle, add the leek and cook both until golden.

4. Add the kale, stirring once or twice before adding the stock. Bring to a boil.

5. Add lentils if desired. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer 20-25 minutes, until kale is tender and lentils are cooked.

6. Add salt to taste. If there is too much liquid, turn up the heat and boil it off, continuously stirring.

Serves four.

Annie Novak is a children’s gardening instructor at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. She works at the Union Square Greenmarket and co-manages an Upper East Side raw foods cafe. Annie can be seen in the forthcoming short documentary, Annie Eats Good Food, produced by Meerkat Media ( Her local foods cooking and gardening program can be followed online at