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.

Late Summer Crunchy Veggie Salad

I had called this a vegetable and brown rice salad in an earlier post, and realized that it makes it sounds awfully boring. Very health food store-y, and not in a good way. So I’ve re-branded my headline in the hopes that it will encourage more folks to give this awesome, flavorful, deeply-textured, nutrient-dense dish a try. This was a perfect lunch dish, and one that you can prepare in advance, good for 1-2 days.

Late Summer Veggie Salad: Layered colors and textures

Here is an updated version of the recipe:

Summer Veggie Rice Salad
adapted from Bon Appetit June 2012

1 small shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice, cooled
2 cups bite-size pieces assorted vegetables  (I used radishes, steamed cauliflower, bell pepper, green beans)
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
3/4 cup torn mixed leafy greens, sprouts, and herbs (Optional – I didn’t have any on hand, so skipped it)
1/3 cup chopped red onion or scallions


  1. Make the dressing: mix shallot, parsley and lemon juice together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in oil and use whisk to mix dressing.
  2. Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl; drizzle with 3 Tbsp. dressing and toss to coat. Pass remaining dressing alongside for drizzling over.


And for those interested, origins of Ingredients:

– Cauliflower, bell peppers, jalapenos, onions, garlic: WSF

– Sauteed Green beans: Citarella Market (I cheated on this one, these were already prepared when I bought them)

– Breakfast radishes: our garden

Late Summer Veggie Salad


“There are no original ideas….”

is the perfect lead-in for this post. I’ve been itching to try Dan’s Baba Ghanoush recipe since he mentioned it a few weeks ago in his post. I picked up 3 beautiful Sicilian eggplants on Saturday at the Farm and had them earmarked for the Babah, as Dan calls it.

Sicilian eggplants getting ready for the oven

I had hoped to prepare them on the grill to ensure the yummy smokiness Dan wrote about. But alas the weather did not cooperate with said plan and I wound up roasting them in the oven. I will readily admit that I am NOT experienced with eggplant prep, so I had to do some research in addition to following Dan’s recipe. Eggplant and I are not simpatico.

You hear a lot about bitterness in eggplants, and the need to salt and/or drain them as part of the preparation process. Large seeds are typically an indicator of bitterness. Since these eggplants were super fresh and had small seeds (see photo above), I chose to skip salting and draining them. I lined a baking sheet with foil, and rubbed it with a small amount of olive oil. For the eggplants, I cut off the tops and sliced them in half, scored the flesh side, placed them on the baking sheet and roasted at 475F for about 35-40 minutes.

Roasting eggplants, like buns in the oven

I let the eggplants cool and then followed the recipe from Claudia Roden’s  “The New Book Of Middle Eastern Cooking.” I wound up doubling the recipe because I had about 4 pounds of eggplant. As an aside, I felt quite diligent because I used my recently purchased Escali scale to weight them in advance. Handy purchase.

Verdict: Very tasty eggplant dish, absolutely no bitterness, so good call not to salt/drain.

Today’s Lunch: Raw veggies, sliced baguette and homemade Babah Ghanoush

But I didn’t achieve the much-desired smokiness that comes with grilling. I read on The Shiksa’s blog that you CAN achieve that smokiness in the oven if you roast a few minutes longer than you think you need to. Must try that next time. Eggplant and I will become BFF.

What’s for Monday Night Dinner? Insalata di Farro

It’s hard to let go of summer. That, plus I had a half bag of pearled farro staring me in the face that I had smuggled back from Italy.

Farro Perlato imported from Italy in small batches. In my suitcase

Farro is an ancient Italian grain that is high in protein and retains a nice chewy crunch when you cook it. It is similar to barley or spelt, but not exactly either. Go figure. I know it’s odd to bring back grains as a holiday souvenir, but real farro is hard to find stateside. And, as you know by now, I hate to let anything go to waste.

I also had a hodgepodge of veggies left over from Saturday’s CSA pick-up, so I decided to make a simple Insalata di Farro, or Farro Salad. It is reminiscent of any other type of grain salad, like quinoa or rice salads.

Not to brag, but  carnivorous Hubs deemed this vegetarian meal “quite good.”

Insalata di Farro with radishes, tomatoes, peppers and scallions

You’ll see the recipe below, but consider this a starting point. You can use any cooked or raw veggies that you may have on hand, and you can also add some cut up cheese or meat for additional protein. While we were in Tuscany, our neighbor Chiara prepared an Insalata di Farro  with mozzarella, chick peas, tomatoes and potatoes. Delish.


1 cup farro
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice [can use red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar if you don’t have any lemon]
1 – 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped roughly
4-6 radishes, thinly sliced
4 scallions, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped roughly
Salt and pepper to taste


Rinse farro well before use. Put in medium pot and add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, salt well, and then let simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. While the farro is cooking, you can chop up your veggies and make the dressing.

Chopped Veggies: Chef’s choice

Put lemon juice (or vinegar) in a small bowl and drizzle in olive oil while stirring to make the dressing. Add salt and pepper to dressing

Farro is ready when it has softened and the water has evaporated.

Almost ready: Farro on the stove

Keep an eye on it while it cooks. If the water absorbs too quickly and it’s not ready yet, you may need to add another 1/2 cup of water. Once it is ready, take it off the burner and fluff with fork. Let it cool. Once cooled, add to large bowl with the chopped veggies and dressing. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with chopped parsley or basil, if you like. A tavola!

Yield: 3-4 servings

Inspiration from India by way of Texas and NJ

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by a generous gift from a colleague of my husband’s. Mangoes. A delicacy in India, grown in Texas, purchased in New Jersey and kindly shared with us in New York. Super fresh and ripe, succulent and juicy, but not local. Uh-oh.

I wanted to use the mangoes in a recipe and landed on a trusted favorite. Grilled swordfish and Mango Relish. The mango relish is a simple recipe from Mark Bittman (one of my Food Idols – see post from 6/27/12). The swordfish can be subsisted with other fish steaks, or grilled chicken.Here’s the recipe for the mango relish/salsa.Mango Relish 
– 1 ripe mango cubed into 1/2″ cubes
– 1/4 cup chopped red onion
– juice from 1 lime
– 1 dried hot pepper or Cheyenne pepper powder
– 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
– kosher salt
– ground black pepper

For the swordfish:
-2 swordfish steaks or fillets, 6-8 ounces each
– 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions for the Mango Relish: mix all relish ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl, careful not to mush mango too much. Relish should be chunky. Can be prepared in advance and chilled.

For swordfish: Heat grill or grill pan. Rub olive oil on swordfish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on hot grill about 3 min on each side. Serve with relish on the side and slice of lime. Can use grill pan on stove top instead of grill.

Happy 4th of July!

We celebrated the 4th with a great meal from the grill and classic rock tunes on the radio.

The meal was kicked off with cocktails and a much beloved grilled barbecue shrimp recipe.We have made this recipe many times (and have tried many other recipes for grilled shrimp) and I think it’s the best. Right amount of savory and spices, and easy to boot. It’s originally from Emeril and here is the link:

The shrimp and the our entrees were expertly grilled by hubs on our classic Weber charcoal grill. Perhaps hubs will guest blog one day on his grilling philosophy.

For entrees, we had burgers. Sirloin for the carnivore and portobello mushroom for me. Local, mixed greens from our friend Steve’s farm on the side. There might have been some ice cream for dessert, too.