kale caesar slaw

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It’s beginning to feel like summer around here. I like it. I’m ready to make some frozen treats. But first, let’s take care of the important things. Let’s talk about kale.

tuscan kale

This is what I refer to as real life eating. I eat a whole lotta kale behind the scenes around here. Like at least two bunches a week, sometimes three, even four if I’m on a roll. It’s made its way into my eggs in the morning. And I usually have some form of kale for lunch or dinner. I haven’t really gotten into the whole green juicing thing, but I imagine that could happen some day.

caesar fixings

AD and I tried out this recipe for a kale Caesar slaw one night a few months back and since then I find myself making it at least once a week. If you’re looking for a way to incorporate raw kale into your diet, this is a great place to start. The secret to eating raw kale is slicing it into thin ribbons when prepping. I swear this makes a world of a difference. And if you love a classic Caesar salad like I do, this is right up your alley.

kale and stems

This is the kind of salad that easily becomes a meal (I can eat half of it in one sitting – it’s that good). I think the grated hard boiled egg is what really does it for me. But I’m also a sucker for an anchovy-based dressing; if you’re not so keen on anchovies, capers are an excellent substitute. A hunk of crusty bread alongside and a glass of wine and you’re good to go.

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kale caesar slaw 

adapted from epicurious

serves 2-6

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

splash of Worcestershire sauce

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 hard-boiled egg, peeled

14 ounces Tuscan kale or other kale, center stalks removed, thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 cups, or two bunches)

Combine the lemon juice, anchovies, garlic, Dijon, and Worcestershire in a blender or food processor; purée until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add oil, drop by drop at first, until dressing is creamy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. Dressing can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

In a large bowl, toss kale and dressing and coat thoroughly (this is easiest done with your hands). Season with salt and pepper. Using a fine cheese grater or a Microplane, grate the hard boiled egg over the kale. Top with remaining parmesan and serve.

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reconstructed potato salad with preserved lemon

It’s about that time again. I have a bad case of summer brain. It’s serious. I can’t focus. I find myself daydreaming about beaches and coastal drives and a house in the woods. Midday cocktails. Ice cream for dinner. Fireworks.

Nothing is getting done around here. Except for this salad. This salad is happening.

Earlier this year, I woke up one morning and decided I must have preserved lemons in my life. I proceeded to salt-pack a couple pounds of Meyer lemons; I had a feeling they would come in handy in the months ahead. I’ve waited very patiently for the magic to happen, the transformation from their natural, fresh-off-the-tree state to that salty, tender, essence of lemon entity. After four months, they’re finally ready.

fingerling potatoes

This salad has been on my to-do list for over a year. I knew I would get to it as soon as those lemons were ready. I think of it as a reconstructed potato salad. It involves fingerling potatoes, a smear of mayonnaise, and chopped preserved lemon. It’s finished off with a drizzle of olive oil, flaky sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and chives. The preserved lemon really takes it to another level – I love that salty-lemony element; I want to put it on everything. I’m so happy I had the foresight to take care of that lemon situation back in March.

Because of the simplicity of this dish, the ingredients are key. Naturally, you can buy preserved lemons and mayo, but as the ladies at the Canal House say, why buy it when you can make it? I am a firm believer of this philosophy. Plus, as you know, starting with the best ingredients is really important when preparing something so minimal. In this dish, it makes all the difference.

reconstructed potato salad with preserved lemon

reconstructed potato salad with preserved lemon

from Canal House Cooking Volume No. 1: Summer by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer

serves 6

2-3 pounds small potatoes

salt

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil

fresh ground pepper

rind from 1 preserved lemon, rinsed and chopped

chopped fresh chives or parsley

Put the potatoes in a large pot of cold water generously seasoned with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until they are tender. Drain.

When they are cool enough to handle, slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and arrange them on a serving platter, spreading mayonnaise on one side of each potato as you work. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with the preserved lemon and chives.

preserved lemons

lemons, preferably organic and unsprayed, washed

kosher salt

sterilized wide mouth container with an airtight lid

Cut the lemons (almost all the way through) into quarters, keeping them attached at the stem end. Working over a bowl, tamp the inside of each lemon with salt. Tightly pack the salt-filled lemons into the sterilized container. Pour more salt over the lemons as you fill the container. Cover the salt-packed lemons with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Store in the refrigerator. Turn the container occasionally for the first few weeks to moisten all the lemons with the salty brine. The lemons should eventually become submerged in the brine. If the brine doesn’t completely cover them after one month, use a metal kitchen spoon to gently press the lemons under the surface. The longer the lemons cure, the saltier they will become; taste them first before using. Preserved lemons will last up to one year in the fridge.

reconstructed potato salad

chicory salad with persimmon and pomegranate

Stop what you’re doing. Head out to the market. Pick out a few fuyu persimmons. A pomegranate. Some good looking chicory greens – a curly endive, a radicchio perhaps. Let’s have a salad.

Persimmons are fantastic in salads. I might be biased because they’re definitely a favorite of mine; this entire site was pretty much born out of my love for persimmons, particularly the fuyu variety. Persimmons are what make the transition from fall to winter bearable. I’ve been eating at least one a day or the past few weeks.

I digress. Let’s get back to this salad.

Whisk together a light vinaigrette, preferably something citrus based. Add a few crumbles of blue cheese. Pour yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

What you’ll end up with is a lovely autumnal salad with a variety of textures and flavors – crunchy, sweet persimmons, slightly tart and juicy pomegranate seeds, salty, creamy blue cheese, hearty chicories. If you’re not a persimmon fan, try it with pears. Not into blue cheese? How about a little feta instead? Use your imagination and make it your own. It is a perfect first course. A very nice light lunch. A snack. You can’t go wrong.

chicory salad with persimmon and pomegranate

serves 4

8 cups chicory greens, torn into medium pieces ( I like a combination of curly endive and radicchio) 

2 fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced

1 large pomegranate, seeds reserved

2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

citrus vinaigrette

In a large bowl, combine greens, persimmons and pomegranate seeds. Pour enough vinaigrette into the bowl to lightly coat your salad and toss gently. Add more if necessary. Add blue cheese and serve. Voila!

citrus vinaigrette

3 tablespoons lemon or grapefruit juice or a citrus flavored vinegar

6 tablespoons oil (I like grapeseed or walnut oil)

kosher or coarse sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

Pour juice or vinegar in a small bowl. Add a large pinch of salt and a small pinch of pepper and whisk. Continue whisking, and slowly pour oil into the bowl in a thin stream. Whisk until emulsified. Taste vinagrette and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.

 

israeli couscous with grilled summer squash

There has been a bit of a quiet countdown happening over here. On an almost daily basis, I’ve been reminding myself to make the most of these days, the end of summer, the end of my twenties. Stop. Take a few deep breaths. Be grateful. They’re going fast, these days.

Maybe you and I are alike in our efforts to savor these last weeks of summer. If so, I have something for you.

First, get yourself some summer squash, pick a few lemons from the neighbors tree (or the market), start up the grill and pour yourself a glass of wine, grab a beer, make your favorite cocktail – you get the picture. After a quick marinate in lemon, olive oil and minced garlic, grill up that gorgeous summer bounty and then throw it into a salad of Israeli couscous (not to be confused with traditional small grain couscous), feta and dill. Season with more lemon juice and zest, flaky salt and ground black pepper.

This little salad was born on a hot August evening in the mountains. I liked it so much that I had to make it again just a few weeks later. It’s bright. It’s savory. It’s summery. It’s one of my new favorites. It will be the perfect side dish for the end of summer shindig you’ll be attending this Labor Day weekend. It also makes a great mid-afternoon snack. Hold on to summer, grill everything in sight, dine outdoors, leave the windows open, pretend like it’s just beginning.

israeli couscous with grilled summer squash

serves 6-8

2 cups dry Israeli couscous

8-10 small zucchini

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided 

2 lemons, zest and juice 

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup dill, roughly chopped

4 ounces feta, crumbled 

flaky salt

fresh ground pepper

Prepare your grill outdoors. Alternately, you can use a stove-top grill pan or roast zucchini in the oven for about 8 minutes at 425F.

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise from stem to base. Place in a shallow casserole dish or baking pan.  Sprinkle the zest of one lemon and minced garlic over the zucchini. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of one lemon over the sliced zucchini. Season with salt and pepper. Toss until all zucchini is well coated. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt. Add the Israeli couscous and cook for 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain the couscous and then spread on a baking sheet in a even layer to cool.

After the zucchini have been marinating for 15-20 minutes, place them on the grill cut-side down. Leave them on the grill until they have nice charred markings and are tender but not limp, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from grill and set aside to cool. When the zucchini is cool enough to handle, slice into 1-inch pieces.

Transfer the cooled couscous to a large mixing bowl. Toss with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, juice of half a lemon, remaining zest, salt and pepper. Add the feta, dill and sliced zucchini. Toss until all ingredients are well incorporated. Add more lemon juice or salt to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

tomato panzanella

A few weeks ago, a friend asked for recommendations for summer side dishes and salads. The first thing that came to mind was panzanella. Why panzanella? Because it is an excellent way to show off gorgeous, summer tomatoes. And it’s hearty but still very fresh and light – just the sort of thing I like to eat on a hot day. I had panzanella on the brain for the entire week that followed. Something had to be done.

If you ask me, the key to a good panzanella is great bread. And if you ask me where to get great bread in these parts, I would have to say Tartine.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – I love me some Tartine. One of my favorite things to do after work is hit the bakery and pick up a loaf of bread right as it comes out of the oven.  And since I wanted panzanella, I popped in on my way home one evening and picked up one of their famous country loaves (and a slice of coconut passion fruit Bavarian).

There is nothing like fresh Tartine bread, still warm from the oven. The aroma will fill your car and you will be forced to savagely break into the crusty loaf with your bare hands as you make your way down I-80 because the 25 minute drive home is just too long. It happens every time.

Luckily, for all of us, the Tartine Bread book was released into the universe last year. Along with recipes and techniques for making their bread at home,  it features a chapter devoted to dishes that give day old bread a second life, including this tomato panzanella.

If you like bread and you like salad, this is a perfect union of the two. Imagine really fantastic homemade croutons after they’ve absorbed the vinaigrette and tomato drippings at the bottom of a salad dish. It’s the best part of the salad, right? Now imagine a big bowl of those croutons, tossed with heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumber, and basil. It cannot be beat. No joke.

tomato panzanella

adapted from Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson and Eric Wolfinger

serves 4 to 6

red wine vinegar

2 pounds baby artichokes 

1 cup + 6 tablespoons olive oil

salt

4 thick slices day old rustic, country style bread, torn into large pieces

4 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese

4 ripe heirloom tomatoes

1/2 red onion, finely diced 

1 English cucumber

1 bunch basil, stems removed

Preheat oven to 400°F. Fill a large bowl with water and add a generous splash of vinegar. Remove the tough outer leaves from each artichoke until you reach the tender leaves surrounding the heart. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and place the halves in the water.

Drain the artichokes, place in a bowl, and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Arrange the artichoke halves cut-side down in a large ovenproof skillet. In the same bowl, toss the bread pieces with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. spread the bread over the artichokes, grate Parmesan all over, and put the pan in the oven. Roast until the artichokes are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and the bread is a deep golden brown, 15-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut each tomato in half crosswise. Holding each half over a small bowl, gently squeeze it (as if juicing an orange) to release the seeds. Reserve the tomatoes. Add the onion, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, and salt to the seeds, and stir to combine. Stir in the olive oil.

Cut the reserved tomato halves into 1-inch chunks. Peel the cucmber. using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, shave the cucumber into thin strips.

In a serving bowl, combine the artichokes, bread, tomatoes, cucumber, and basil. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

chickpea, cilantro and feta salad

With the long holiday weekend ahead, you’re probably asking yourself, ‘What am I going to bring to that barbecue?’ I have an answer for you.

This chickpea salad has been one of my favorites for a while now. I find myself making it at least once a month, if not more. Here’s what I like about it:

It’s full of chickpeas, which I love. They remind me of the salad bars of my youth. The chickpeas were always at the end of the salad bar next to the croutons and bacon bits. It turns out that they are an excellent source of fiber – definitely a plus in my book. You can use canned chickpeas for this salad, but I really like soaking and cooking dried beans.

It’s herbaceous, which makes it really fresh. A generous amount of chopped cilantro, scallion and flat leaf parsley provide a lot of flavor and great texture.

It’s terrific served alongside grilled meat and/or veggies. But it also stands well on its own.

It’s the perfect dish for non-meat eaters. It has a good amount of feta, which gives it a nice salty finish and makes it a bit more substantial than just a plain bean salad. Your vegetarian friends will love you.

It’s incredibly easy to throw together, especially considering that there are so many layers of flavor. Because we’re expecting gorgeous weather, the last thing I want to do is spend hours in my kitchen cooking or baking; this salad will allow me to get out and enjoy this glorious July 4th weekend.  I hope you do the same.

chickpea, feta and cilantro salad

adapted from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros

serves 4-6

1-1/4 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water or 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans

1 cup olive oil

1 large red onion, chopped 

5 cloves garlic,  finely minced 

1-2  red chiles, seeded and finely chopped

1-2/3 cups crumbled feta

1 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

4 scallions, green part only, chopped

juice of 1 lemon

If you’re using canned chickpeas, rinse and set aside. Otherwise, rinse the soaked chickpeas, put them in a saucepan, cover generously with water, and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat slightly and cook for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until they are soft but not falling apart, adding salt toward the end of cooking time. When cooled, drain and put the chickpeas in a large bowl, removing any loose skins.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and gently saute the red onion until it is cooked through and lightly golden. Add the garlic and chile and cook for a few more seconds, until you can smell the garlic (take care not to brown the garlic). Let cool completely.

Add the feta, scallion, cilantro, parsley, and lemon juice to the chickpeas and season with pepper and salt to taste. Add the cooled onion mixture and remaining olive oil and mix until well combined.


asparagus salad with lemon-anchovy vinaigrette

While I was at the farmer’s market this past weekend, all I wanted was fruit. I felt like I was being taunted by all of the gold nugget oranges I passed on the way in. And strawberries. There were strawberries that were practically begging to be made into pie. Or ice cream. Or a shortcake. I’m totally not struggling with sugar deprivation, cant you tell?

Amazingly, I remained focused and came home with a half-dozen avocados and a few bunches of asparagus. And long-stemmed tulips, because I needed them. That’s how I roll these days. Not that I mind terribly. I’ve been enjoying my handfuls of pistachios and sharp cheddar cheese and chicken sausage and lots of veggies and greens.

One night last week I came home and made this asparagus salad. It was the highlight of my week. It’s a salad made of raw asparagus shaved into thin ribbons and tossed in a super-flavorful lemon-anchovy vinaigrette. The recipe comes from Canal House Cooking. I’ve been obsessed with the series since last year, when I first got my hands on Volume 1. Christopher Hirsheimer, one half of the duo behind the Canal House, is my idol. Seriously. She is a phenomenal food photographer and has photographed countless cookbooks. She co-founded this little publication. And now she and Melissa Hamilton are self-publishing these Canal House cookbooks. I love their laid back approach to food, and their gorgeous, no-fuss aesthetic.

And now I love this salad. It’s the easiest thing to throw together, like so easy that you can come home after a long day and snap your fingers and it’s done. Because I’d never had raw asparagus, I was a tad nervous at first. But now I am definitely a fan. As a matter of fact, it’s my new favorite way to prepare asparagus. The raw asparagus is crunchy and has a very fresh, almost grassy flavor when shaved thin. I couldn’t stop eating it. I’m not going to lie, I actually ate just about an entire bunch of asparagus all by myself throughout the evening. My brother looked at me in horror; you know what they say about the effects of asparagus. Oh well. It was worth it.

asparagus salad with lemon-anchovy vinaigrette

adapted from Canal House Cooking, Volume 1 by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton

serves 2-4

4-6 anchovy fillets

1 small clove garlic

coarse salt and pepper

juice of 1/2 lemon (I used a whole lemon)

1/4 cup really good extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch asparagus

With a heavy knife, chop and mash the anchovies and garlic together with kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper on a cutting board. Transfer the paste into a small bowl and add the lemon juice. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus, bending the spears with two hands to find the natural snapping point. Using a mandoline or very sharp vegetable peel, carefully slice the asparagus lengthwise into long thin ribbons. Place the ribbons in a large salad bowl and toss with the vinaigrette until thoroughly coated . Serve immediately.