Kil’t Kale

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I don’t want to suggest that the only way to eat kale is when it’s smothered in bacon grease and bourbon. But I think it probably is the best way.

This is a recipe originally available from Garden and Gun (online here), passed on to me by a coworker who, like me, was sick of kale salad after kale salad. Again, not that there is really anything wrong with kale salad, but every once in a while, you want something a little more tender, more meaty, something easier to convince your loved ones to eat.

The foundation of the dish is something called “bacon jam,” a concoction of bourbon, bacon, bacon grease, vinegar, and a little bit of sugar. Once you’ve got that mixture, you toss in your chopped kale and wait for it to wilt. It practically melts into the bacon jam, leaving you with an amazing sweet/sour/bitter combination. Remember how I said that all flavor is a combination of fat, salt and acid? This is a perfect example of a good balance among the three. Continue reading

Beet Salad with Orange-Cardamom Dressing

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You know those days when you just want to eat a sandwich and go to bed? That’s pretty much how my life has been for the past two weeks. The “Polar Plunge,” as CNN has taken to calling it, has hit Idaho hard. While I expect living in the Rocky Mountains to be cold, of course, this is definitely the kind of cold that generally we don’t see until January, when we’ve already had two months to ease into it.

When it’s this cold, I have a hard time eating vegetables. Or, you know, anything that isn’t a carb and covered with cheese. This is lasagna weather, Minnesota “hot dish” weather, weather that demands meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s hard for me to get excited about salad when it’s so cold, my dog won’t go outside.

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This is a recurring problem in my life and on this blog. Thankfully, this salad has pretty much solved all of my problems with goat cheese, beets and a deliciously warming orange-cardamom dressing that not only made me feel all warm and cozy inside, but also infused a little bit of brightness into my otherwise lackluster, Vitamin D-deficient day.

And, because it’s winter, I bulked it up with kale and quinoa. No fussy, summery frisee or baby greens here — this is a winter salad that is more than up to the task of filling that winter-hungry tummy. Eat it for lunch, feel virtuous and full, and then go eat lobster mac and cheese or something for dinner. It’s winter — you totally have permission.

Beet Salad with Orange-Cardamom Dressing
 
Author: Kate Wutz
A gluten-free and meatless winter salad that you actually want to eat — beets, kale, quinoa and a bright orange-cardamom dressing keep things fresh and interesting even in the darkest polar plunge.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • pinch ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • zest of one orange, divided
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 2 medium beets, roasted
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, de-stemmed and sliced into ribbons
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Instructions
  1. First, whisk the first four ingredients and 1 Tbsp of the orange zest in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Bring quinoa and water or stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Add remaining orange zest and stir. Lower heat and cover, simmering for about 15 minutes or until quinoa no longer has a small white dot in the middle and the “springs” have become uncoiled. Set aside and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, cube the beets. Set aside in a bowl. Pour half of your dressing over the beets, then pour the other half over the quinoa. Stir to combine.
  4. If you want a pretty layered salad like the one I have pictured, place kale on individual serving plates, then top with quinoa, beets, goat cheese and almonds. If you would like a beautiful, brilliantly purple salad, combine everything in a very large mixing bowl and toss. Serve, or keep in the fridge for up to three days.
 
Notes
For a vegan version, use maple syrup in place of the honey and eliminate the cheese.

 

Butternut Squash and Kale Salad

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I’m ready to concede that summer is over. The light down jacket is out, the leaves are turning, and now I find myself craving pumpkin with a strength that cannot be denied. But as I refuse to post about pumpkin stuff yet, as it’s still September and I am a valiant defender of keeping holidays within their respective months, I’ve had to wrack my brain to come up with something to post.

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Multi-green Pesto (gluten-free, paleo and vegan option)

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Pretty much all I want to eat these days is a giant bowl of salad with a slice of bread. It’s summertime, work is busy, and I’ve been forbidden from turning on the oven, so that’s also the simplest solution.

But I also want some interesting flavors, you know? Which is why this pesto is so enjoyable. Guess what? It doesn’t have basil in it, just a bunch of powerhouse greens and some yummy, nutty-tasting flax. There’s not much to say about it, except that it’s inspired by this recipe by Cookie and Kate and it’s perfect with anything — spread on bread, used with sort of a bruschetta, spread on pizza crust in lieu of sauce or simply thinned and tossed into pasta. Or zucchini! Your call.

As you  can see above, I went the simple route.

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Superfood Summer Salad (gluten-free, meatless)

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I am really, really bad at themed food. The second I try to come up with something to fit a certain holiday or season, every idea I might have had flies straight out of my head. Then, I come up with tangential ideas that only kind of fit the theme and try to make them fit, usually with disastrous results.

But every once in a while, a recipe comes beautifully and gloriously together and happens to fit a perfectly appropriate theme. This salad is a perfect example. The recipe reads like I just threw every superfood at my disposal into a salad bowl and mixed thoroughly; the reality is that the flavors all meld deliciously together, complementing each other in complex and satisfying ways.

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Kale and Apricot Salad (paleo, gluten-free, vegan option)

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After three weeks straight of stomachaches, I had to do something. My wedding is swiftly approaching, to the point where everyone I see feels the need to tell me how close it is —  four weeks! Three weeks! So soon! Are you nervous? — and I knew that unless I wanted to be achy, bloated, angry and sad for the actual Blessed Event, I needed to do something.

That something was switching back to Paleo. I am pretty sure I’m not intolerant to dairy, nor do I really think I have any kind of gluten intolerance — though I will say that my skin cleared up considerably once I made the switch again. All I know is that on Paleo, I have fewer stomachaches, and while I’m positive that 100 percent Paleo is not right for me in the long term, it is until June 20.

Of course, the second I made that decision, I started craving my favorite kale and quinoa salad from a sandwich shop downtown. Continue reading

Kale and Quinoa Power Bowl (vegan, gluten-free)

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After Monday’s fake mac and cheese, I felt like I needed more veggies in my life.

Yes, squash is a vegetable, but don’t you just feel more virtuous eating things that are green? I do, for whatever reason, and kale always intensifies that experience. It’s certainly not time for garden salads yet, though, or ethereal whipped things with berries, or bright lemon-infused pesto on zucchini noodles or whatever people eat when it’s not snowing out.

So I had to come up with something green that packs a punch. Continue reading

“Almost Springtime” Salad

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Confession: This salad came together mostly because I was cleaning out my fridge.

I had planned on just making a sprout salad. But then, I realized I had a random pomegranate sitting in my fridge — I have literally no idea why — as well as a bunch of lacinato kale I hadn’t used, pecans and pepitas leftover from making granola bars, and parmesan cheese that probably should be used sooner rather than later.

A hazy memory of this salad from Bon Appetit (and this adaptation by The Brass Blossom) convinced me that clearly, kale and brussels sprouts could live harmoniously in one salad bowl. Continue reading

Green Monster (vegan, paleo, gluten-free)

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I had to make something green for you for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s somewhat (but not entirely) coincidental that this grass-green smoothie is excellent for hangover recovery.

Remember how you used to drink in college? You’d knock back some obscene amount of alcohol and wake up most mornings with nothing more than a headache and a vague feeling of nausea that could be quickly squelched with pancakes doused in lots of syrup and some good, strong coffee. Then, suddenly, you turned 25 and more than two glasses of wine meant you probably woke up feeling like you wanted to die.

Or at least, that’s how it worked for me. Continue reading

Kale and Wild Rice Salad (gluten-free)

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It’s only the end of January, but I am antsy for spring. South-central Idaho is in the midst of an extreme drought, which means we’re having an incredibly mild winter — the hillsides are bare, the skies are blue and the temperatures are reaching the mid-forties. It’s going to make for a hell of a wildfire season, but for now, it just makes me want to go hiking. Or take a beer and a book out on the porch and work on my tan.

Of course, I can’t do any of those things, because it’s still only 45 degrees out. Warm, but hardly tanning weather. So to assuage my ache for everything happy and spring-y, I’m turning to my kitchen and trying to cook things that at least taste like spring.

This salad fits the bill. It combines hearty, winter-friendly ingredients such as kale, wild rice and walnuts with lighter, happier flavors such as raspberries and salty, creamy feta. This is a solid salad for sure, one I’d be tempted to serve as an entree.

The dressing, though, is what makes this dish sing. Made with green onions, it basically punches you in the mouth with fresh, bright flavor, shouting “IT’S SPRINGTIME, DAMNIT.”

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