Some people may pick up a bottle of beer after a long hard day. But, in Kenya, I used to grab a kale sauté called “sukuma wiki” when I needed a “pick-me-up”. “Sukuma” means “push” and “wiki” means “week” in Swahili. This dish was an everyday staple for common Kenyans to eat in order to “push (a hard) week”. Known as a good source of iron, calcium, vitamin C, Vitamin K and Carotenoids, the “goodness” of kale was widely promoted to us by the US Peace Corps nurse since our first day in Kenya. In fact, I was constantly reminded of this “goodness”, as “sukuma wiki” almost always appeared on my plate everywhere I went. Thankfully, I adored kales’ bitter tangy sweet flavor quite a lot. Beyond the “goodness”, the “kale sauté” has, in fact, turned into a comfort food for me. It was the food I shared with local Kenyans every single day not only to “push a week” but also to pull everyone together (i.e. Harambe in Swahili), while serving with the US Peace Corps in a remote Islamic village in Kenya for over 2 years.
While standing in my California kitchen today, I’ve decided to make the Kenyan kale sauté to push a hard week spent fighting off a cold. First, I thinly slice a bunch of kale. Then, I preheat 7th taste mushroom olive oil in a pot and sauté 1 onion (chopped) and 2 Roma tomatoes (chopped). When onion color turns translucent and tomatoes get “mushy”, I add the chopped kale to the pot, season with some sea salt and cook until everything turns soft.
This simple, healthy dish is so good that I can easily eat a whole pot of it, like eating a large bowl of salad. The buttery California extra virgin olive oil blended with shitake mushrooms adds such a wonderful smoky flavor with sweet earthy tones to this dish. It complements the flavors of tomato, onion and kale so wonderfully. Who knew such a simple dish has such amazing flavors? Hope you enjoy this recipe! Happy cooking!