Warm Kale Salad

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Warm salad? Those two words do not commingle well, but let me just say… yum!

I don’t usually dream about food, but when I do, it’s healthy food. This must be a sub conscious way my body has of telling me, “Hey, excuse me, but you’re not fulfilling my needs.”

I had a birthday a few weeks ago, which involved spending three days as a tourist in my hometown. What to do when your birthday falls on a Monday? Celebrate all weekend, of course! We have so many culinary treats located here in Portland, the biggest challenge is deciding which ones to visit. The first prandial activity took place at RingSide Steakhouse: Tenderloin steak, onion rings, garlic mashed potatoes, and a gin martini up with two olives. Need I say more?

On the afternoon of Day 2, we stopped in at Hop and Vine for popcorn and a pint. Dinner consisted of a kale salad at The Old Gold. A slice of delicious chocolate cream pie ended this day’s culinary tour at Random Order.

Day 3 (Sunday), we had tickets to see the musical play, Dream Girls. Lucky for us, a small cafe upstairs at Portland Center Stage offers lunch. If you live in Portland, and haven’t seen Dream Girls, it’s definitely worth taking in before it ends on November 2. Portland Center Stage is a small venue, so you can get good deals on those last minute seats and still be assured of a clear view of the stage. We then gravitated toward Stella Taco on NE Alberta, to meet up with friends for some of the best street-style tacos I’ve ever had. After dinner, an impromptu stop at Tonalli’s Donuts & Cream for French Crullers wrapped up the weekend.

Now back to that dream…

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Yes, I dreamed of a warm kale salad. The following recipe is the result of that dream:

Warm Kale Salad
(Serves 4-6)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 diced onion
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 sweet orange pepper, chopped
8 oz baby bella (portobello) mushrooms
5 cups kale (leaves only), chopped
6 slices cooked bacon
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Boil eggs until hard boiled, 13-15 minutes. Chill. Cook bacon, chop into small pieces, and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt one tablespoon of the butter. Add onions and peppers and cook until peppers are soft and onion is slightly transparent. Add the mushrooms and the other tablespoon of butter, and sauté until browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the kale, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Sauté until the kale is wilted and deep green. Remove from heat and toss in the bacon. Serve with chopped egg and grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

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Simple salad sauce

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Who else is loving the abundance of fresh local veggies right now? My garden is overflowing with spinach, lettuces, peas, squash, raspberries and several herbs. Due to the wet, warm, humid weather we are experiencing here in Portland, my hair is constantly curly, and many varieties of weeds are thriving in our yard. But lets ignore those things for now, okay?

I’m grilling, sautéing, roasting… or simply tossing raw veggies into bowls and devouring them in the form of salads every day. When it comes to a dressing for my colorful creations, however, the store bought options are usually … ho hum. The bottled salad dressings are often laden with trans fats, sugar, salt, preservatives and artificial flavors. They can quickly turn fresh, crisp, organic goodness into something unthinkably unhealthy. No thank you!

Fortunately, by blending a few basic ingredients,  you can quickly and easily create healthier, delicious salad dressings, and feel much better about what you’re ingesting. This honey mustard dressing is my current favorite. It’s slightly tangy, sweet, creamy. It’s also great on grilled, sautéed, or roasted veggies, or drizzled over chicken.

Honey-Mustard Salad Dressing

2 Tablespoons pure honey
2 Tablespoons yellow or brown prepared mustard (I used yellow for the sake of a prettier color, but spicy brown is good too)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 Cup Greek non-fat, plain yogurt
Whisk these ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Store in an airtight container for up to a week or so. Recipe makes one cup.

Yay, another use for my Weck jars! I can’t seem to get enough of these.

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Pea shoot and pansy salad

When my mother recently gave me this beautiful porcelain dish, I knew immediately what I wanted to do with it. It’s old, faded, delicate, and needs something fresh and new to restore its vibrancy.

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Put a salad on it!
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I made this salad with young, tender pea shoots. If you planted peas in your garden a month ago, you have pea shoots emerging now. If not, you can find them at farmers’ markets and specialty grocery stores. The shoots are the green leaves and tendrils that grow before the flowers and peas form.

Notes on pea shoots: Any type of pea plant will provide tasty shoots, but sugar pod peas are the easiest types to grow for shoots and tendrils, since they tend to shoot up faster and stay light and crisp. All parts of the pea plant are edible. As the pea leaves and stems mature though, they tend to get tough and stringy. When they’re young, the pea shoots are tender, crisp and delicious. The same goes for those curly tendrils the pea plants use to hold on to supports as they grow.

If you can’t get your hands on any pea shoots, don’t dispair, you can still make this salad with baby greens, arugula, spinach, or other favorite tender greens.

I love adding flowers to salads! Pansies are one of the easiest flowers to grow, they’re also very mild and fresh tasting, so they marry well with the pea shoots.

Even though the salad puts on a good show with its innate beauty, it’s really all about the dressing. The dressing, looking so unobtrusive tucked away under gorgeous showy greens, is a goddess in disguise.

6313SD-120I could drink this stuff! It’s that good!

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The recipes:

Salad

4 cups of fresh pea shoots (or other baby greens)
1/2 cup crumbled chèvre
1/4 cup pecans, broken
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Several edible flowers (optional)

Dressing

2 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons white wine
1 Tablespoon tangerine or regular olive oil
(add a squeeze of fresh orange or tangerine if you can’t find flavored olive oil)
1 Tablespoon blue agave syrup
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of sea salt

Directions

Layer pea shoots or greens, chèvre, pecans, and cranberries in a bowl or on 4 salad plates and repeat. Whisk together yogurt, wine, olive oil, agave, basil, and sea salt. Drizzle some of the dressing onto the salad and pass around the remainder at the table.

Enjoy!