Kale and Chickpea Salad with Honeyed Almonds and Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

 

DSC_0044 Isn’t this French kale beautiful?  I know, I know – the words kale and beautiful don’t normally sit side by side in the same sentence, but the dark green and purple all ombréd together and those perfect, rounded ruffles make it the ODLR of the vegetable world.DSC_0023I brought the above kale home from Elawa Farm’s garden market, tore it into bite sized pieces (which almost made me sad), massaged it with vinaigrette (yes, massaged it…we’ll get to that), and tossed it with ingredients that reside in just about everyone’s pantry.DSC_0212DSC_0237Kale and Chickpea Salad with Honeyed Almonds and Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

serves 2 for a main course, 4 as a side

for the vinaigrette (makes 1 cup) –

  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 small shallot (about 2 tablespoons), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

for the salad –

  • 1 bunch kale (any variety), center ribs removed and discarded, leaves torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, from a jar or home roasted, cut into strips
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted almonds, store bought or homemade (recipe to follow)
  1.  Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously until emulsified.
  2. Add torn kale leaves to a large salad bowl.  Pour 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette onto the kale leaves and massage with your hands for a minute or two until kale begins to soften (kale will wilt in a good way and lose its bitter edge).
  3. Add the sliced roasted bell pepper, chickpeas, and a tablespoon or two more of vinaigrette.  Toss to coat.
  4. Divide salad among plates and sprinkle with honey roasted almonds.  Pass extra vinaigrette at table.

Honey Roasted Almonds

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • big pinch kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together honey, oil and salt in a small bowl.  Add chopped almonds and stir to coat.
  3. Spread almond mixture evenly on baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes until nuts are light golden, stirring once during baking.  (Be sure to monitor nuts carefully – they burn in the blink of an eye!)
  4. Allow to cool completely.

DSC_0014This cheery bouquet of yarrow also came home with me…how could I resist?

 

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

DSC_0013This Greek inspired lentil salad hits all the right notes – crunchy, creamy, light-yet-filling, and bursting with bright flavors.  It’s a great take-along for a Memorial Day picnic, and though it stands alone as a vegetarian entree, it would be a fabulous accompaniment to anything from burgers to grilled chicken.  The lemony dressing will seem like too much at first, but the lentils will absorb it over time.  French green lentils are worth seeking out – they have a wonderful nutty flavor and do not get mushy like other lentils.  I also love French feta if you can find it – it is milder and creamier than other varieties.

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

makes approximately 6 cups

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 3 cloves garlic, one peeled and two minced
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small cucumber, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 small red onion, small diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup feta, small diced
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with one peeled garlic clove and a large pinch of salt.  Add lentils and cook over medium-high heat until lentils are tender and cooked through, 18-20 minutes.  Drain, then place in a large bowl.
  2. While lentils are cooking, make the dressing by whisking together the two minced garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  3. Add dressing to the still-warm lentils.  Allow to cool completely.
  4. While lentils are cooling, chop veggies, herbs and feta.  After chopping the tomatoes and cucumbers, place in a colander lined with paper towels for at least 10 minutes to absorb excess liquid.
  5. Add all veggies and herbs to the cooled lentil mixture.  Stir in feta last.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Crispy Kale and Quinoa with Roasted Broccolini and Red Peppers

DSC_0112A few months ago I decided to integrate Meatless Mondays into our weekly menu plan in the name of health and diversity.  The problem is, I have relied heavily on pasta which is not the healthiest option nor is it diverse.  This week I branched out and made veggies the star.  I love that it comes together in less than half an hour and that it’s delicious served at any temperature, making it perfect for packed lunches and picnics.  (And if you aren’t going meatless, this dish is an excellent accompaniment to teriyaki salmon or chicken.) DSC_0035Quinoa is a complete protein which makes it a great meat replacement, and it’s packed with fiber that will keep you full.  Red bell peppers add a dose of sweetness to the dish, balancing out the kale which becomes crispy, smoky and slightly charred under the broiler.  Broccolini, the other main component, is one of my favorite vegetables.  It’s available in most grocery stores but if you can’t find it, regular broccoli works well too. DSC_0081Crispy Kale and Quinoa with Roasted Broccolini and Red Peppers

serves 4 as a main course

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 4 cloves garlic, 2 minced and 2 sliced thin
  • 2 lemons, one zested and juiced, one cut in half and reserved
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more for drizzling
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Eden Shake Sesame and Sea Vegetable Seasoning (available in the Asian section of your grocery store.  You can sub other sea seasonings and mix with black and/or white sesame seeds or use plain sesame seeds if you can’t find it) + more for sprinkling 
  • 2 bunches broccolini (about 1 pound), each stalk sliced in half lengthwise or two heads broccoli, broken into very small florets
  • 2 bunches kale of any variety (about 12 oz), large ribs removed and leaves torn into two inch pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced thin
  • toasted sesame oil
  1. Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse well.  (Don’t skip this step or your quinoa will taste soapy and bitter).  Cook according to package instructions.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, whisk together the 2 minced garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon Eden Shake, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  3. When quinoa is done cooking, stir the mixture from step 2 into the still warm quinoa and set aside.
  4. Preheat broiler to high. Spread the broccolini, red bell peppers, kale and the 2 sliced garlic cloves between two baking sheets.  Drizzle with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons per sheet) and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.
  5. Broil each sheet for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring well half way through.  If both trays do not fit on top rack, rotate trays from top to bottom half way through.
  6. Remove from oven and squeeze reserved lemon halves over the roasted veggies.
  7. Divide quinoa mixture and roasted veggies between four plates.  Drizzle each lightly with toasted sesame oil and sprinkle on a bit more Eden Shake and red pepper flakes.
  8. If making ahead, drizzle the veggies lightly with toasted sesame oil (a little bit goes a long way) when they come out of the oven and toss to coat.

inspired by a recipe from Sarah Copeland’s cookbook Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, discovered on the Sunday Suppers site

Delicata Squash with Apple Pecan Quinoa Stuffing

DSC_0688 Delicata is sweet with an edible skin just like acorn squash, but the texture is much smoother and creamier.  I love this dish as a vegetarian main course served with mixed greens or as a side dish to accompany pork tenderloin.  Filled with the flavors of fall, this is comfort food at its healthiest.

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Delicata Squash with Apple Pecan Quinoa Stuffing

serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side dish

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 delicata squash
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/2 in dice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 4 slices provolone cheese, each cut in half
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, maple syrup, cider vinegar and dijon mustard.  Set aside.
  2. Cut both squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon to remove all seeds and pulp.  Place two of the four halves flesh side down in an 8×8-in microwave safe dish.  Fill pan with 1/2 inch of water and microwave until squash is tender all the way through, 8-10 minutes.  Repeat with second squash.  Place all four squash halves in a rectangular baking dish flesh side up,  drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Mash lightly with a fork, leaving skin and a 1/2 inch rim of squash completely intact.
  3. While squash is cooking, rinse quinoa well in a fine sieve.  Place rinsed quinoa, salt , and 1 and 3/4 cups of water in a pan with a tight fitting lid.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and cover, cooking for 12-15 minutes or until all water has evaporated.  Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes.  Fluff with fork.
  4. Toast pecans in a large saute pan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes or until nuts are warm and fragrant.  Set aside.
  5. Wipe saute pan clean with a paper towel, removing all nut skins and pieces.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions, apples, and garlic to pan and saute until onions are translucent and apples have softened, about five minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add cooked quinoa, pecans, cranberries, sage, and the maple/cider vinegar/dijon mixture to pan, season with salt and pepper, and stir until ingredients are thoroughly combined and warmed through.
  7. Stuff each squash half with 1/4 of the mixture and cover with 2 provolone halves.
  8. Turn oven to broil.  Place squash pan under broiler for one to two minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly.

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Breakfast Bite: The Perfect Poached Egg

DSC_0794Hands-down the best way to have eggs, don’t you agree?  The best part is that it’s so fast and simple, but there are a few essential steps to achieving a plump white with a perfectly runny yolk rather than something resembling a Portuguese man-o-war with its egg-y tentacles floating around in the water.DSC_0806The Perfect Poached Egg

  1. The most important step: you must use the freshest eggs possible.  Egg whites thin as they age which is why older eggs spread all over the pan.  I bought the above organic eggs from the Alden Hills Farm stand at the Lake Bluff Farmers’ Market and they were beyond incredible.  Honestly, have you ever seen such deep golden yolks?
  2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add a splash of vinegar.  You will not taste it (scout’s honor!) and it will help keep the white in tact.
  3. Turn the heat down so your water is at a very low boil.  Crack your egg into a small bowl or ramekin, then gently ease it into the water.
  4. Three minutes.  Exactly three minutes!
  5. Remove egg from water with a slotted spoon and ease onto a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the excess water.
  6. For extra yumminess, serve over a piece of toast with ripe, smashed avocado and a sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.DSC_0793