Showing posts with label salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label salad. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Splendid Salads: Kale salad with cannellini beans and dried cranberries

Kale salad with cannellini beans, dried cranberries and Parmesan

As a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli and cabbage Kale, is a nutrition power house! Loaded with vitamins A, K and C as well as phytochemicals beta-carotene and lutein that help lower cancer risk. Kale is often eaten cooked but it can also be delicious raw in salads. The trick to a delicious raw kale salad is to balance the slightly bitter greens with sweet and salty flavors. In this salad we partner the bitter greens with tart lemon, sweet cranberries, savory beans and salty, robust parmesan. The results? Divine!

My good friend Sarah, a dietitian and blogger on WhyFoodWorks, shared this delicious salad recipe with me and I am paying it forward to you! The best part about this salad (besides the super flavor and nutrition) is that it holds up for a day or two in the fridge without getting gross. Just about every other leafy green will wilt soon after application of acids such as balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.

Kale salad with cannellini beans, parmesan cheese and dried cranberries
  • 1 bunch of beautiful kale (avoid wilted or discolored bunches; probably not too fresh)
  • 1-16oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (also known as white kidney beans; while you may not recognize the name, if you've ever eaten minestrone soup, you've eaten them. If you can't find cannellini beans in your local grocery store, try Navy or Great Northern beans)
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice and zest of 1-2 lemons, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (as Parmesan cheese is quite salty, you shouldn't need much additional salt)
  1. Give your kale a rinse under cool running water and remove the tough stems. Chop into thin slivers and place in your salad bowl.
  2. Zest the lemon and add to kale; slice lemon in half and add juice to kale too.
  3. Use your hands to massage the lemon juice and zest into the kale. If you have a kiddo helper, he or she would love to help you with this step.
  4. Add beans, cranberries, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss together and serve!

Note: this salad keeps well and travels well; bring it to your next picnic, pack it for lunch or even try it at your next brunch.
Gather your ingredients; the parmesan cheese is hiding :)
Wash and remove tough stems
Chop into small pieces
Zest and juice 1-2 lemons (to taste)
Add zest and juice to kale leaves
    Kale is more tender after being massaged and lemon flavor is on each leaf!
    Add toppings
    Salad to go!
    I use a tool like this to zest the lemon and to grate the parmesan cheese. Do you have one in your kitchen?

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    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Cooking techniques: how to blanch vegetables

    Cooking techniques: how to blanch vegetables

    What is blanching? Blanching vegetables is a simple cooking technique that includes cooking vegetables very briefly in boiling water and then submerging them in ice-water or running them under cold water to stop the cooking. You're left with very brightly colored vegetables that are like al dente pasta; crisp tender and lovely. You have also taken apart (ie denatured) the enzymes in the vegetables, so they'll stay fresh for longer.

    I demonstrated this technique with asparagus, but it works well with green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots too!

    What do you do with these veggies? Lots of things; blanched vegetables make a great base for simple salads when tossed with a vinegarette. Blanched veggies also look prettier on a vegetable tray; you can try dipping them into balsamic black bean hummus.

    You can also use this technique to prepare vegetables for storage in the freezer. If you didn't take the time to blanch the produce, it wouldn't last as long in the freezer. Place blanched veggies into zip top bags and remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. By saving seasonal produce for later, we get to take advantage of the produce at its peak of freshness and nutrition and best price.

    I also like to pop an over-easy egg on top of blanched veggies for a simple meal.

    Trim ends from veggies

    Drop into boiling water just long enough to develop bright color and to soften

    Run under cold water or submerge in ice water; your veggies are ready to go!
    Blanched asparagus topped with an over-easy egg and feta cheese
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    Monday, June 18, 2012

    Lovely legumes: Confetti Lentil Salad

    Lovely legumes: Confetti Lentil Salad

    Legumes, your humble beans, are quite the nutrition power house. They're loaded with protein and fiber, they have complex carbohydrates for sustained energy and they're low in fat. They are also a good source of B vitamins (important for releasing energy from food) as well as iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium (maintaining healthy bones, blood and more). And the best part? They're cheap!

    So what gives? Many folks think that they don't like beans. Or they think they take too long to cook. Or they're afraid of certain, er, effects after eating beans. To this I reply; with the right recipe, beans are DELICIOUS! Some beans do take long to cook, but if you make good use of your slow cooker or use canned beans, you can get over this hurdle too. As for the gas? Just build up your intake of beans slowly. This too will subside.

    Lentils are a great "gateway" legume because they're super fast to cook. They go from dried to cooked in 20 minutes flat! They're also tiny and cute, so they're easier to hide amongst your veggies for the bean-phobes in your life.

    Here is a great recipe I adapted from the Biggest Loser website.

    Lovely legumes: Confetti Lentil Salad
    • 2 cups cooked lentils (from 1/4 bag dried lentils, 4 ounces)
    • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
    • 2 cups chopped bell pepper
    • 1 cup chopped cucumber
    • 1 cup minced red onion
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 cup queso seco
    • 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    1. Prepare your lentils according to package directions; mine took about 20 minutes boiling to be tender. 
    2. Chop your veggies and add them to the mixing bowl
    3. Measure the cheese and add to the bowl as well, followed by your dressing. 
    4. Enjoy right away, or let the flavors merry overnight before the big feast!
    This recipe is incredibly flexible. Don't like cucumbers? Skip 'em! Have some roasted or grilled veggies left over? Toss 'em in! Think carrots should join the confetti party? I do too! 

    I made 1/2 of a bag of lentils (8 ounces). I used 2 cups for this recipe and am saving 2 cups in the freezer for another time! Cook once, eat twice!

    2 cups of lentils, ready to go!

    Love those veggies! Is your cutting board looking dull or cracked? Check out this posting about cutting board maintenance.

    chopped red bell pepper

    I like to remove the seeds from cucumber using a spoon, but that's up to you!

    Saving the veggie scraps (except for the onion skins) for the worm composter!

    Almost ready!

    It is important to measure those high-calorie ingredients such as cheese and olive oil

    If you don't have access to a Latin grocery store, try feta, Gorgonzola or sharp cheddar cheese instead

    Adding the queso seco, garlic, salt and pepper, olive oil and balsamic.


    This recipe is vegetarian. If you'd prefer vegan, skip the cheese or substitute some grilled or roasted tofu. This is also good for those of you avoiding gluten, or feeding gluten-free friends!

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