Truly Tasty Kale Salad: Hubs Approved

Hello Friends,

It has been far too long since my last post and I have missed you. I have been keeping some real keeper recipes from you these past few months, and I apologize for that. Let me start with the Truly Tasty Kale Salad. We all know that kale is a superfood, nutrient-dense and packed with antioxidants.

Courtesy of UNH

Kale Salad Infographic

We are supposed to devour it by the pound to stay young, fit and healthy. But the honest truth is that it is hard to love. You can’t just cut it up and eat it like a carrot or bell pepper, or treat it like a handful of baby greens dressed in a delicious olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette. It requires some effort to make it palatable, and the mere hype factor has caused some to disavow it. I’ve turned it into a snack before, making crispy spicy chips, and used it as a sidebar ingredient in a veggie quinoa salad.

So I truly felt compelled to share this recipe because it features kale front and center. The Truly Tasty Kale Salad has only a handful of ingredients, takes about 15 minutes to prepare and deserves a spot on your dinner table, either as the main attraction, or as a hearty first course. Here’s why: even Hubs likes it. He said so.

3 kale salad tips for you I’ve picked up after perfecting this recipe:

  • Chop up the kale very finely. Abuse it. It can take it.
  • Use more dressing than you would for a normal salad. The recipe below is for 2 servings. You won’t be sorry.
  • Dress the salad and let sit with dressing 10-30 minutes before serving (usually a big no-no as it wilts ALL OTHER PUNY GREENS)


  • 6 ounces kale, or roughly half a bunch
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or toasted almonds, hazlenuts if you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmiggiano or pecorino romano
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Croutons (optional)


  1. Roughly chop walnuts (or almonds or hazelnuts) and lightly toast in a pan for 2-4 minutes until slightly colored and set aside. Don’t leave them unattended – they can burn easily. I speak from experience.
  2. Remove spines from kale by either pulling off leaves from center spine or using a paring knife. I find it easier to rip off the leaves, and then wash and dry leaves. If you have a different method, that’s fine. Once you have clean, dry kale leaves, get out your chef’s knife and start finely chopping the kale. Start by rolling the leaves and slicing it up in a ribbons. Then turn your ribbons 90 degrees and chop some more. You want the kale thoroughly chopped into small squares. Place in salad bowl.
  3. Make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey and salt and pepper. Use a whisk to emulsify the dressing. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. Now you are ready to assemble. Combine the dressing, shredded cheese, nuts and croutons (if using). Toss well. Set aside for at least 10 minutes, more if you have the time. Toss again before serving and enjoy.
  4. Happy eating!

This recipe was inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman kale salad recipe. She is not one to kowtow to health foods fad, and her writing has yet to fail me. Her new cookbook is the bomb.

Tuesday Night & What’s for Dinner? My Take on Pizzoccheri

The weather was turning nasty yet again, and I was feeling like something cozy and hearty for dinner. I was thinking about a pasta dish with some vitamins/vegetables. Pizzoccheri came to mind, which is a dish from the Valtellina in Northern Italy. It is a typical dish served in the mountains, usually during a day of skiing or outdoor labor. It is rich and tasty, made with buckwheat noodles, bitter greens (usually swiss chard), fontina, and sometimes potatoes. Perfect for a dinner for 2 after a day at the office, right? Anyway, the idea popped into my head and I couldn’t shake it.  I didn’t follow a recipe, but made one up as I went along, working off of memory and taste. Tracking down buckwheat noodles at the last minute, was not going to happen, so I used fresh whole wheat fettucine (store-bought), and for the greens, I chose organic kale (I reasoned that the power of the pasta would overcome Hubs’s revulsion to kale). I also bought some fontina to shred into the mix. 

My Pizzoccheri Pasta

The end result was a tasty, gooey pasta dish that warmed the bones. Not quite the traditional recipe, but worth repeating for sure. For more details on the real pizzoccheri deal, you can also check out Mark Bittman’s NY Times article   here.

My Pizzoccheri-like Pasta

3 or 4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound fresh whole wheat pasta, preferably fettucine, or other long flat noodle
1 bunch kale, washed, stems removed and shredded
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper

Sauteed kale, onion and garlic

In large pan, saute onion in about 2 tablespoons olive oil until softened. Add garlic and continue to saute. Do not brown. Add kale in handfuls and saute until wilted. Add additional 1-2 tablespoons olive oil if kale mixture appears dry. Season with salt and pepper, and red chili pepper flakes (if using). Once kale is wilted, set aside.

Bring large pot of water to boil and prepare pasta according to directions. Fresh pasta only takes 2-3 minutes to cook, so I do recommend preparing the kale mixture in advance, or at least while the water is coming to a boil. Once noodles are al dente, re-heat kale mixture on a low heat, and use slotted spoon to remove from boiling water and add directly to kale mixture. Pasta should have some water on it (no need to drain), that will help loosen up the kale mixture (which is your pasta sauce). Incorporate pasta with kale mixture for a minute or two, over low flame and sprinkle fontina cheese on top. Serve immediately in bowls with additional cheese for sprinkling. Enjoy!

Yield: 2 servings

My Lunch: Jealous much?

Nothing too fancy, just something I whipped up in a few minutes. There are the Roasted Carrots (thank you again, Dan), sauteed Red Russian Kale and Leeks Vinaigrette. I had prepared the carrots and leeks on Sunday, and then quickly sauteed the kale before lunch. So colorful, seasonal, flavorful, local and nutritious! For the kale, I sliced up a few cloves of garlic, sauteed them in olive oil, tossed in a dried chili pepper and then piled on the kale. It always looks like you’re preparing a massive amount of hearty greens, but then the big, bunchy leaves wilt and collapse and shrink into 2 good portions. I didn’t bother to remove the stems since they didn’t seem that tough, which also made for a super speedy preparation. Like I’ve said before, just eating kale makes me feel virtuous.

For the leeks, I trimmed off the tough green leaves, then split each one down the middle and rinsed away the dirt. I had the limited quantity challenge occasionally associated with a CSA Pick-up: only 2 mismatched leeks, both of different dimensions , one very large, and one slim. I brought a small saucepan of water to a boil, salted it and cooked them for about 15 minutes.  I removed the slim one, but let the larger one cook for another 15 minutes or so, until tender.  I then placed the leeks in a colander to drain for a few minutes.In the meantime, I prepared the vinaigrette for this classic French preparation. In this picture, I also sprinkled some shredded Parmiggiano on top, just because I had it leftover in the fridge. If I had a larger batch of leeks, I would have prepared in the oven, maybe a gratin, but having only 2, it was more like a taste of leeks for 1, than anything else.

Doesn’t this plate look so great? I love eating a sampling of different dishes – something about it feels so luxurious. I wouldn’t be happier if I had lunch in one of my favorite restaurants. Thank you, Wolfe Spring Farm.

Here is my Mustard Vinaigrette recipe, which is also great for green salads.

1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
6-8 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium-sized bowl, place shallots in red wine vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes to soften. Whisk in mustard, then slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use on cooked vegetables and salads. Enjoy.

CSA Pick-up 10/20/12

The funny thing about autumn in the Northeast is that it can be freezing (literally) one night and soar back to the 60s another. After last weekend’s frosty temps, we were surprised to feel the need to peel off layers on Saturday morning as we stopped by the farm for our pick-up. Penultimate pick-up of the season. My bag felt a little lighter than usual, but there were still some great new veggies on hand: Red Russian kale, butternut squash and escarole.

Penultimate pick-up – 10/20/12

I was also delighted to see another pair of leeks, a box of brussel sprouts and bunch of multi-colored carrots. With our house guests on the way, I knew we’d make short order out of this pick-up in no time at all. Here’s what I had on tap:

– My “almost-famous” Minestrone-style veggie soup
Leeks Vinaigrette (very French, I know)
– Roasted carrots, copycat pt 2 (see guest blogger Dan Doern’s post for inspiration)
Crispy Caramelized Brussel Sprouts
– Sauteed kale

And, any other year I’d be psyched to see the ornamental gourds, but they didn’t do much for me this year. We found a “volunteer” squash vine in our garden this year and it produced a prodigious crop of yellow and green bumpy creatures.

À la recherche du l’ete perdu (or Better Late Than Never, right?)

OK, so Debra and Hubs were generous enough to give us yet another pickup a week and a half ago and I’m only now getting to blogging about it. Excuses abound but here it is. Y’all should be glad I’m late, actually. Since October 6, when we picked up, we’ve had a frost and fall is definitely here and summer is definitely gone. So maybe my pics will conjure some wistful thoughts……………

Look at the gorgeous haul. More soon on what we did with some of it. I don;t have pics of the great braised cabbage and kale I made. Chopped both, tossed in olive oil, added a bit of vinegar, some water though beer would have been better, a couple of juniper berries and a red chile. Braised with the top off in 400 for 20 minutes, then 250 until tender. Toss once or twice.

We were going to make something cool out of the raspberries but we and our house guests ate them up before dinner time came around!

Last of the season

Homemade Edamame Kale Quinoa Inspired by the Specialty Foods Counter

They say never to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. I was so tempted to load up on prepared foods yesterday at Guido’s Marketplace in Great Barrington, but used my limited will power to stave off the urges. Guido’s Quinoa Edamame Salad (pictured below) looked divine  on an empty stomach. I liked that kale was one of the ingredients – it basically makes any recipe healthy in my book – and edamame, too (super food + protein). I nearly ordered a large container when I remembered that I had a bunch of kale in my CSA pick-up, and since it had been frosty, it needed to be prepared pronto.  Hold up, wait a minute, I was going to prepare this from scratch. I snapped a picture to capture the ingredient list (thank you, Guido’s) and hurried to the check-out counter.

Tempted: Quinoa Edamame Salad @ Guido’s Marketplace

While I unloaded the cart, I started making my mental map of prep steps.  I didn’t know the quantities, or the preparation instructions, but I was willing to wing it, even work under pressure as my belly was grumbling.  The first step would be to cook the quinoa (brilliant, I know). While the quinoa cooked, I’d prepare the vegetables and herbs (edamame, kale, parsley) and whip up the dressing. Mind you, these are all assumptions that I made.

I did a quick search online to confirm the cooking time for quinoa and found a great tip fromThe Kitchn blog. While boiling the quinoa, add a whole clove of garlic and a branch of rosemary to add an additional layer of flavor.  I loved this – the quinoa simply prepared like that tasted good enough to eat. But I powered forward, and to cut to the chase, the dish turned out great. If I had had more foresight, I’d have asked for a sample of Guido’s, so I would have had a taste benchmark as well. But, for a visual comparison, you can see my dish below. Not bad on the eyes, and pretty darn good on the palette. Recipe below photo for the adventurous.

Craving satisfied: Edamame Kale Quinoa Salad


1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water or broth
3 cloves garlic peeled, 1 smashed, the other 2 cloves minced
1 sprig of rosemary (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of edamame (if frozen, prepare according to package)
1 bunch of kale or tuscan kale, center ribs removed
1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley, washed and chopped
1-2 dried chili peppers (optional)



Rinse the quinoa well. Put the quinoa and water or broth in a small saucepan, add 1 clove smashed garlic and sprig of rosemary (if using), and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until all water is absorbed. Fluff with fork and let cool.

While quinoa is cooking, steam kale for 2-3 minutes. Remove from steamer with tongs and chop roughly. Place kale, chopped parsley, and edamame in mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, prepare the dressing by combining remaining garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and chilis (if using). Whisk in the olive oil, and adjust seasoning as needed.

Once quinoa has cooled, add to bowl with vegetables and drizzle salad dressing over it. Stir gently to combine. Serve immediately, or store for 1-2 days.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Hard Frost: CSA Pick-up 10/13/12

Mid-October and the end of CSA season in Western Mass is growing nigh.

Warning: Temps dipped into the 20s last night

If you like your kale crispy, it’s your lucky day:

Frosty Kale

Despite the overnight freezing temps, we still had a wide assortment of veggies at today’s pick-up, including some new fall veggies like Brussel Sprouts (yay!), multi-colored carrots, acorn squash and leeks (double yay!):

New: Brussel Sprouts

New: Carrots & Leeks (hello again, potatoes)

I was already brainstorming on what to do with this bounty and knew I’d have to act quick. Everything looked great, but once the ice melted, I feared many things would go to mush, and worse, rot. Here’s what I’ll make once I get these puppies home:

  • Leek, Potato and Caramelized Cabbage Soup
  • Kale & Edamame Quinoa salad (inspired by Guido’s prepared foods counter)
  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts
  • Acorn Squash with Chili-lime Vinaigrette
  • TBD

Here’s the full run-down of today’s pick-up:




The Tipping Point

I feel like we’ve reached the tipping point in the turning of the seasons. We had another big haul from WSF, but surely it is the last week for summer favorites like tomatoes and eggplants. New this week: cantaloupe and napa cabbage

I’ve already cooked up a bunch of treats: a mix of new and old dishes:
– Eggplant curry (a recipe from the “From Scratch Club” blog)
– Creamy Garlic Soup
– Crispy Veggie and Brown Rice salad
Kale Chips
Crunchy Coleslaw

Stay tuned for more details on my new recipes above.


Kale Chips Revisited

Kale Chips are nothing new, but I had yet to master them. Everyone says they’re “so easy to make,” so you can imagine how I felt when my batch last summer turned out south of mediocre. With a beautiful bunch of freshly picked kale from WSF staring at me, I knew it was time to try again. Also, I had to prepare the kale as a stand-alone dish. Despite its elite status as a super food, some people just don’t like it.

So with a clear head and calm mind, I embarked on my kale chip adventure, pushing aside the rest of the madness in my kitchen. I followed this recipe from the White on Rice Couple. In fact, it was very simple. Their blog has great photos, to boot. See below.

Preparing Kale Chips from

I washed, rinsed and dried the kale leaves, and removed the spine (the most tedious part, as pictured above on left). I then put the broken up leaves in a large bowl, drizzled some olive oil, a dash of kosher salt and cheyenne pepper. I used my hands to make sure the oil was evenly distributed on the leaves and  so as not to have to use too much.  I prepared 2 cookie sheets with a layer of parchment paper and then laid the kale leaves on the paper in a single layer. Bake at 300 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Verdict: Big winner. The kale chips are tasty and crunchy, even slightly addictive. It warmed my heart to hear 2 1/2 year old Sam say, “more kale chips, mommy”

Epilogue: Night Out at Northern Spy

A quick epilogue on our meal at Northern Spy Food Co in the East Village.  The name of the restaurant is taken from a local NY state heirloom variety of apples. We tried to pick some this weekend during an apple-picking expedition at Windy Hill Farm in Great Barrington, MA, but no dice.

Windy Hill Farm in Great Barrington, MA on Saturday, September 22, 2012

I liked this sign.