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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

Last Friday night we were in very good company. My brother-in-law and cousin-in-law were both in town from Cincinnati and they, along with a couple of wonderful friends, joined us for Shabbos dinner. Not only was I lucky enough to be surrounded by such great people, but I was also treated to a home cooked meal, in my own home, without having to cook a thing!

My husband, Andrew, who had the day off of work, prepared the the entire meal himself (bless his heart!). So, since I was not the cook that day, I can shamelessly say how wonderfully everything turned out. Red wine braised grass-fed beef shank, Isreali couscous, raw tuscan kale salad. When you're entertaining with a meal like that, it's hard to trump the meat. However, the kale salad did garner as many compliments as our slow braised headliner. Maybe it was because people know we are veggie-fanatics, maybe it was because they were shocked that they liked RAW kale so much, or maybe it was just that darn good.

It's surprisingly simple to throw together (the most time consuming part is washing and drying the kale leaves) and when you eat it you can just TELL you're doing something good for your body. And Tuscan Kale (a.k.a. dinosaur kale, lacinato kale, cavolo nero or black kale) is much more tender than other types of kale and is excellent raw. Totally raw, just dressed with a simple and zesty vinaigrette. Really.

Also, as an aside, this salad also makes a great weekend lunch. One my favorite lunches is this salad topped with an over easy egg and a big bunk of seedy whole grain bread. Heaven.

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

1 big bunch of Tuscan kale
1 1/2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. Grana Padana or Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated

Wash and pat dry kale leaves. Halve leaves lengthwise, removing and discarding coarse middle stem. Slice leaves into 1/4" wide strips by stacking several leaves on top of each other, rolling them up and then chopping (see picture above).

Prepare dressing by combing red wine vinegar, garlic and crushed red pepper in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil and season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Add kale into the bowl with the dressing and toss well to coat. Add grated cheese and toss gently to combine. Adjust seasoning and top with additional grated cheese, if desired.

Quinoa Salad with Apples, Cranberries & Herbed Vinaigrette

Quinoa Salad with Apples, Cranberries & Herbed Vinaigrette

1 c. quinoa
1 c. water
1 c. vegetable or chicken stock
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey or agave nectar
4 thyme sprigs, minced
2 rosemary springs, minced
2 c. apples
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. toasted almonds, chopped
fresh minced parsley for garnish

Rinse quinoa well to remove any remaining saponin. Combine quinoa, water, stock and a generous pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook for 13 minutes or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer to a sheet pan and let cool.

While quinoa is cooling, prepare the dressing. In a large bowl, combine lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey or agave nectar, rosemary and thyme and a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil.

Dice the apples and squeeze a bit of lemon juice on them to prevent them from discoloring. Start composing the salad by adding the quinoa into the bowl with the dressing. Stir in the chopped apples, cranberries and almonds. Garnish with minced parsley and enjoy!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Roasted Beet Risotto with Pistachios & Goat Cheese

Roasted Beet Risotto with Pistachios & Goat Cheese

1 bunch beets (about 4 small)
1 white onion, chopped
1 tbsp butter
2 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 c. filtered water
1 c. aborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 oz. fresh goat cheese
1/4 c. pistachios, shelled and chopped
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beets (stems and greens removed) in an aluminum foil pouch. Roast for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Allow to cool. Once cooled, peel and chop.

Bring stock and water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep warm. Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender. Add aborio rice and toast, stirring constantly, until edges of rice are translucent, about 1 minute. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Gradually add in the warm stock, ladle by ladle, stirring frequently. The whole process should take 20-30 minutes. You may not need all of the stock.

When the rice is fully cooked, but still has a slight bite to it, stir in the Parmesan cheese and chopped beets. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve topped with crumbled goat cheese and chopped pistachios.