Tag Archives: Kale

Kale Salad

i’m eating leftover kale as a snack RIGHT NOW.

I have a lot of flaws.  I’m impatient, competitive and sometimes I listen to the same song 4235 times in a row.  I quote Liz Lemon and wait to see if anyone notices, I yell at pedestrians for crossing where there’s no crosswalk and do EXACTLY the same thing myself, I cheat at cards and I would agree to watch a documentary only if I was also reading a book.  I am 28 years old and still make fart jokes, I eat mini marshmallows straight from the bag and I never listen to my voicemail.

But!  I also eat a shitload of kale, so I figure it all balances out.

Realistically, I eat this salad 2-3 times a week.  Because I LOVE it.  People I’ve made it for have scoffed, heartily, at this salad, because technically the kale is raw.  But they have all been turned by the power of kale salad.  Once, a 7 year old ate this salad voluntarily.  I dress this salad in one of three ways: sesame-soy dressing, lemon-parmesan dressing, or garlic-tahini dressing.  Any of the three will change your life.  Additionally, you get to enjoy the smug sense of superiority you can only get from eating something REALLY healthy.  Later, when you eat french fries while drinking a beer in a bar, you can say to everyone in shouting distance “IT’S FINE, I ATE A LOT OF RAW KALE EARLIER.”  Everyone will really appreciate it.

The main drawback to this salad is that it’s about 100% more labor intensive than I like cooking to be.  You have to wash the kale (it’s a sandy vegetable), rip out the bitter, overly cruciferous spines, rip up the leaves, massage the lot with salt, then rinse all the salt off, then wring it out, then dress it.  It’s like a 20 minute process.  But it’s worth it.  I had the best run of my life after having had coffee, 4 gallons of water and kale salad.  It’s magic.  (I also just realized this salad is vegan the only way food is acceptably vegan: accidentally.)  Because I haven’t written a blog post in 7 years, I’m going to give you all three dressing recipes.  You’re welcome.

Kale Salad

2 bunches of kale (I make two bunches for only myself.  If you’re making it for guests, probably go 3-4.)

2 tablespoons or so of kosher salt

Dressing of choice*

put on some usher or something while you’re washing, it’s gonna be awhile.

So basically, the salt cooks the kale a little.  It wilts the leaves, takes away the bitterness and shrinks it.  So!  You wash the kale leaves very well (sandy!), rip out the spines of the leaves, and rip up the leaves.  Put all the ripped up leaves in a big bowl.

When you’ve washed and ripped all the kale (approximately 2 months after starting the process), sprinkle about a couple teaspoons or so of kosher salt all over the kale.  Don’t be afraid of saltiness, because you’re going to rinse all the salt off later.  Massage the salt into the kale for 2 minutes.  If possible, draft someone else to do the massaging, because why not!

this picture is actually from when i was in denver a couple months ago and made kale salad for sue. she also now eats it multiple times a week.

After massaging, you can let the kale sit for awhile, kind of marinating in the salt, if you like your kale really wilted.  If not, rinse the salt off right after the massaging and the kale will be more crunchy and bouncy.  When you’re ready to rinse it off, put all the kale in a colander and rinse it very well.

too salty kale is tragic.

If you do a bad job, the kale will be too salty and everyone will cry.  So rinse it well.  Then, take it in handfuls and squeeze out all the excess water, putting the kale back into the big bowl.  Then dress it and try not to eat it all while you make the rest of dinner.

*Dressing options:

Soy-sesame – My favorite.  2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, black pepper.  If you have sweet Thai chili sauce, put a couple teaspoons of that in there too.

Lemon-parmesan – juice of 2 lemons, zest of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 cup or so fresh parmesan, salt and pepper.

Garlic-tahini – 1-2 cloves garlic, zested on a microplane, juice of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons of tahini paste, salt and pepper.  In the interest of being honest, I will admit that I copied this recipe from a kale salad they have at Whole Foods in the pre-made salad section, which I eat when I am lazy.

– Cat

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Filed under Dressings, Salad, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Italian Wedding Soup (or Escarole Soup)

For some people comfort food is macaroni and cheese, for some it’s mom’s homemade lasagna. For me it’s soup. Soup warms me to my very soul. I love the process of making it as much as I love eating it.  Although, I think if you have been reading this blog at all, you already know about my extensive love for soup. So today I’m going to tell you about my inspiration for this soup.

I spend a lot of time reading about food…and by a lot I mean an unreal amount of time. Food is a very central part of my life, job, and everything else.  Food to me isn’t just something to eat; it is something I love to talk about, something I love to think about, something I love to cook. It is deeply associated with memories in my life, and will be associated with future memories as well. I subscribe to this wonderful (and well known) food magazine called Saveur and this month’s edition, Italian Christmas, included a particularly inspiring story.

It was told from the perspective of a daughter whose father was a second generation immigrant from the former Czechoslovakia. The story gives a beautiful account of her memories of her grandmother’s kitchen, which became her father’s. Her father had been a Korean War veteran, a billionaire, and “now he was who he was: an up-country boy who has found peace in his mother’s kitchen in his mother’s apron”.  It was a soulful and touching story about the roots of our lives, and how so many of those memories are associated with food.

I have incredible memories of spending time in the kitchen with my mother, baking cookies and making our special family pasta recipes. I remember eating at the deli around the corner from my dad’s office and tasting real corned beef. I remember traveling to Thailand with my family and seeing and tasting a pomegranate for the first time.   Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year because I get to go home and cook with my family. I wish I had even an ounce of the skill the writers Saveur have, and their ability to evoke layers of memories; but for now I will continue to just enjoy reading them.

One of the other articles was about escarole soup. Here is the link, so you can read it yourself. See? Doesn’t it make you want to be in her grandmother’s kitchen? In case you are unfamiliar with Italian wedding soup, this is basically the same thing. One major difference in my recipe- I couldn’t find escarole. Apparently it is extremely difficult to find. I even went to our big huge mega Whole Foods that has every greens variety known to man; but no escarole. So I used kale, I would recommend you do the same.  I also made a number of other small changes, but you can consult the recipe in the Saveur link for the original.

Italian Wedding (or Escarole) Soup:

Meatball ingredients:

½ lb ground beef

½ lb ground veal

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup grated romano cheese

½ cup bread crumbs

¼ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

1 clove of garlic minced

½ medium yellow onion, minced or grated

2 Tbs freshly chopped parsley

1 egg, beaten

Salt and pepper

Soup Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil

8-10 cups chicken stock

1 ½ onions chopped (use the ½ left over from the meatballs)

3 cloves of garlic minced

1 large head of kale, cleaned, stems removed, and cut into 2” pieces

2 eggs beaten

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup pearl or Israeli cous cous

Salt and pepper

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Method:

To make meatballs, add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix with your hands. Form into small meatballs, no large than 1” inch wide. Place all the meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet while you are making them.  Heat up a large cast iron skillet (or other large pan that is good for searing) and cook the meatballs in batches.

Turn at least once while cooking so they will get a sear, it will take about 3-4 minutes per batch. Remove and drain on paper towel while you prepare the soup.

In a large dutch oven (or other soup pot) add the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the chicken stock and bring to a low boil.

Kale is pretty

Add the kale (or escarole) and the meatballs. Cook on a low simmer for 20 minutes to let the flavors marry. Add the pasta and cook for about 5 minutes. While the pasta cooks, beat together two eggs along with the parmesan cheese. Remove the soup from the heat and slowly add the egg/cheese mixture while whisking (this is what will cause the egg to thicken the soup, and not turn into scrambled eggs).  Season to taste with salt and pepper and optional red pepper flakes.

A few notes:

If you can find escarole, you should use it, and tell me how it is. Apparently it cooks down with an earthy and sweet flavor. Kale was an excellent (and super healthy) alternative, but I think you should use escarole if you can find it.

If veal isn’t your thing, you could use all ground beef or a mixture of beef and pork.

You can use any kind of pasta with this, but it is typically served with a small variety such as ditalini or the pearl cous cous. If you are planning to save this soup, you can cook the pasta separately and add it before serving. However; another pro for the pearl cous cous is that it holds up well to reheating.

-Sue

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Filed under Recipes, Soup

Baby Potato Salad with Chard and Bacon

mmm bacon.

Last week was the 4th of July, which I realized is my favorite holiday.  Everything about the 4th of July is good: eating grilled things, eating baked beans, lots of drinking, usually swimming in lakes, fireworks, being outside in beautiful weather, lots more drinking, sparklers, falling asleep in the car on the way home, etc.  There’s nothing bad about this holiday.  My love for the 4th of July has almost nothing to do with patriotism, interestingly.  Not that I don’t love America.  BECAUSE I DO.  I think my favorite thing about America is the fact that we can fearlessly make fun of whoever we want, but also: the freedom for people to set off fireworks in the street outside my building until 2 am even though it’s a school night, and my freedom to yell obscenities at them for doing so.  Ah, America.  The only thing Christmas (traditionally my favorite holiday) has on the 4th of July is mimosas and honey baked ham.

So because I’m a real American, I celebrated the 4th of July by eating baked beans and drinking.  I mostly slowly sipped shots of orangecello and I made pulled pork instead of burgers with  my baked beans, but still, it counts.  I also made a nice potato salad of NOT THE MAYONNAISE VARIETY.  This potato salad is a lot like German potato salad, with the addition of Swiss chard or kale.  The chard makes it seem like you’re making something healthy, which you are, if things can still be healthy when they have a gloss of bacon fat.  I made mine with baby Dutch yellow potatoes, which are delicious and buttery.  You could also make this with fingerlings or redskins, but I really think the Dutch yellows are the nicest.  In any case, make this with a baby potato so it stays delicate.

Baby Potato Salad with Chard and Bacon

2 lb baby Dutch yellow potatoes, scrubbed

1 bunch Swiss chard or kale, cut or ripped into 2 inch pieces (To prepare kale or chard, wash each piece pretty carefully, they hold a lot of sand and grit.  When they’ve been satisfactorily rinsed, rip or cut out the center stem of each leaf.  Discard the stems, and chop or rip the remaining leaves into bite sized-ish pieces.)

5-6 slices bacon, chopped (I cut up my bacon with a pair of kitchen scissors I use only for cutting up bacon.)

3 large shallots, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp whole grain mustard

4 tbsp apple cider vinegar

4 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp brown sugar

salt and pepper

Method:  In a large pot full of water, boil the whole baby potatoes with a few pinches of salt, until they are fork tender.  Remove them to a colander and let them drain until cooled to room temperature.  When they’ve cooled, cut them into quarters and put them in a large pan or bowl, whatever you want to serve the potato salad in.  In a large saute pan on medium heat, cook the bacon pieces until crispy.  Remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel lined plate.  Turn the heat down to low and put the shallots and garlic into the bacon fat, cooking until translucent, probably 10-15 minutes.  Then add the mustard, vinegar, maple syrup, brown sugar and salt and pepper, and let cook 5 more minutes.  Pour half the dressing over the potatoes, leaving the other half in the pan.  With the pan still on low heat, put the chard into the pan in a big layer, moving it around every 30 seconds or so with tongs.  It will slowly wilt and shrink in size.  When it’s all wilted but still green and mixed up with the remaining dressing, pour the chard over the potatoes and mix well.  Mix the bacon back into the salad and serve warm or at room temperature.

– Cat

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Filed under BBQ, Dressings, Meat, Recipes, Salad, Sides

Grilled Halibut with Marinated Kale

This post is probably going to trick you into believing I eat really really healthy food. Don’t worry, that’s not true. But I have had this twice in the past week because it was so delicious. This is also one of those meals where after you eat it you feel satisfied and a little bit like someone should pat you on the back for choosing to eat this instead of pizza.

Now, let’s talk about kale. I thought for a long time that kale was gross. Turns out- I was wrong. Also, it’s quite possibly the best food for you. I’m fairly sure when you eat it, it will counteract that bowl of ice cream you may or may not have had for breakfast. Well maybe not, but it is crazy good for you.  It’s full of beta-carotene, antioxidants, calcium, iron, fiber, and potassium. It also has almost your entire daily recommended value of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, and vitamin B6. Seriously, this is what they mean when they say “super food”. It’s also tasty. It’s a hearty crunchy green with slightly bitter citrus taste.  Cat says kale tastes like health and trees. I said that did not sound appealing. Trust me, Cat eats a lot more vegetables than I do and if I like it, you will too.

For today’s dose of kale I paired it with some fish and roasted vegetables. This is a light fresh meal that you can prepare completely on the grill (which is wonderful for people like me who have a tiny kitchen that gets VERY hot in the summer).  The portions in this recipe are for two.

Grilled Halibut with Marinated Kale

Ingredients:

¾ lb halibut

1 bunch kale (green, purple, any kind)

3-4 lemons

1 tsp salt

3 medium cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

10+ cherry tomatoes (yellow or red)

1 can artichokes packed in water, drained

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Olive oil

1 Tbs freshly snipped chives

Method:

The kale needs to marinate for at least an hour, so you will want to make it first. Kale has a tough stem running almost the entire length of the leaf, to remove this make a V-shaped cut and discard the stem.

This is to show you the stem, i tried to lay it out flat but kale is stubborn

Roughly chop the kale into medium to small pieces (kale is hearty, so you will want this to be smaller than a piece of lettuce for a salad). In a large bowl toss the kale with the juice of 2 lemons, 1 tsp of salt, and the minced garlic. Cover and let marinate, stirring occasionally.

Make a foil packet with the tomatoes and artichokes. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

For the fish, on a piece of foil, slice 1 lemon as thinly as possible and place a layer under the fish (skin side down). Generously season the fish with freshly ground pepper, and a sprinkling of salt. Layer the top with the rest of the lemon, and sprinkle with chives. Drizzle everything with olive oil and seal up the package.

With the grill on medium heat cook the vegetable packet for 15 minutes. The fish will also take about 15 minutes, but it depends on the thickness of the fish. To check if the fish is done slice open the foil packet and poke the fish with a fork, if it flakes easily it’s finished.  Remove the lemons and slice the fish into equal portions.

Slice the additional lemon to squeeze over the fish to finish. This is of course optional, I just really love lemon.

To plate this dish, start with a generous portion of the kale, top with a serving of fish, and top the fish with the vegetables.

Healthy deliciousness

A few notes:

You could make this dish with pretty much any type of white fish, I have also done it with sea bass. It would also be delicious with chicken.

I specifically chose tomatoes and artichokes because they provide a little bit of sweetness and acidity that balances nicely with this dish. You can use anything your little heart desires.

This dish can also be prepared without a grill. You can roast the vegetables in a small pie plate and the fish can still be prepared in the foil, just put it on baking sheet.

Don’t be put off by the amount of garlic and lemon with the kale. Even if when you go to mix it, it smells overwhelming. That lovely kale absorbs just the right amount of flavor.

– Sue

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Filed under Recipes, Seafood