Tag Archives: kale

The Best Kale Salad with Sweet Sesame Dressing

14 Mar

Kale has become a hot & trendy little vegetable lately, which is fine by me because I love finding it on restaurant menus everywhere I go. But I’ve been a kale admirer for many years and it’ll continue to be my favorite leafy green even when its fifteen minutes of foodie fame are up.

I absolutely love this powerhouse vegetable. Every time I eat raw kale I feel amazing inside. It’s the only food that has an almost instant effect, making me feel like I’m doing my body good by eating it. And it tastes amazing! It’s so earthy and hearty and the flavor changes and intensifies based on what you do with it.

I love it roasted, steamed, sautéed, juiced, baked, and, of course, in ‘chip’ form, but the best way to eat kale is most definitely raw.

I sometimes like to just toss it with olive oil, sea salt, lemon and a touch of maple syrup; but this easy sesame dressing is one of my all-time favorites and it stands up to and pairs so nicely with the boldness of kale.

I make this sesame dressing often. When I feel like cleaning a slightly bigger mess, I use a blender to mix it, which gives a really nice, smooth and creamy consistency. But when I don’t have the patience, I just whisk it up in a small bowl and add the hot water in a little bit at a time while whisking to smooth it out.

The photos here show a dinner salad that I made last week with a mix of red and green kale, raw cauliflower and crunchy bean sprouts. Kale is a great green to eat as a meal because it’s so filling and full of goodness. And it holds up nicely as a weekday take-to-work lunch salad because it doesn’t really get soggy like other lettuces when it’s dressed. 

This dressing would also be amazing on sautéed or steamed spinach with some sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

Kale Salad with Sweet Sesame Dressing

Bunch of kale, washed & torn into bite sized pieces

¼ cup tahini

2 tbsp tamari soy

2 tbsp agave

Hot water, to taste (to thin out the dressing)

Sesame seeds – optional, for sprinkling

Use a blender or a small mixing bowl and whisk. Mix the tahini, tamari soy and agave until blended. Add in hot water a little bit at a time until you get a consistency that you like.

Toss kale with sesame dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds. 

* I did find this general recipe online somewhere a few years ago but I can’t remember where it came from so I can’t source it properly. 

Mushroom & Kale Polenta Hash with Eggs

11 Mar

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I cherish my weekends. I try to savor every minute of the two glorious days where I can shed (most) responsibility & stress and just be. And savoring them over a delicious brunch is pretty much as good as it gets. 

But Neil and I have made a promise to eat out less and cook at home way more, and that means brunch falls in my hands. 

For some reason, despite being an amazing cook, Neil’s intimidated by breakfast. His creative ideas cease to flow pre-coffee, and just the thought of having to figure out what to eat seems to push him over the edge. Though I don’t mind because breakfast and brunch is definitely my domain. 

I love thinking of interesting breakfast creations, brewing up a pot of good coffee, turning on some weekend-appropriate music and getting to work in the kitchen. 

As much as I love meeting friends for brunch and having someone else cook for me in my down time, taking the time and care to make something beautiful myself and then sitting down with my husband at our own kitchen table to enjoy it, is a bit of weekend bliss. 

Here’s a quick and delicious brunch that I made yesterday, using what we had in our fridge. 

When I spotted the polenta and mushrooms, I imagined an earthy, savory hash to go with eggs. I cooked the eggs medium so that the yolks were still rich and runny but not too thin or liquid-ey when they broke. There’s something so satisfyingly perfect about breaking a rich egg yolk overtop of savory ingredients and taking a bite of everything together. 

With a cup of dark coffee, I think this brunch stands up to the best of them. 

Oh, and it took about 12 minutes to throw together. Way less than standing in a brunch lineup!

Mushroom & Kale Polenta Hash with Eggs 

1 log of Italian-style pre-cooked polenta

Bunch of kale (I used a mix of red and green)

Cremini mushrooms (I used 2 medium-sized ones for two people)

1 large shallot

Olive oil

Thyme-infused olive oil or fresh or dried thyme

Sea Salt

Pepper

Red chili flakes

Eggs

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Cut off a few rounds of the polenta (I used three) and then chop them into small cubes.

Chop the shallot and mushrooms into small pieces and tear the kale into small bite-sized pieces as well.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan over medium heat and sauté the shallot for a few minutes, seasoning with a bit of salt. Add in the kale and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes before adding in the polenta cubes. Sautee everything together, season with pepper and a few chili flakes.

I drizzled just a little bit of Nudo’s thyme-infused olive oil into the hash, which added such a great earthy compliment to the mushrooms and kale. You could use some dried or fresh thyme instead, but only use a little bit so as not to overwhelm.

Cook on medium-low heat until the polenta cubes are a bit crispy on the outside.

Meanwhile, heat another pan and cook a few eggs sunny-side up. I cooked ours to medium so the yolk was still gloopy and runny, but not too liquid-ey.

Plate the polenta ‘hash’ and top with eggs.

Happy weekend!

Simply Assembled: Dilled Potatoes with Smoked Salmon

18 Feb

Recently a friend asked me “Do you guys ever make anything bad? Do you ever screw up?” Though I would like to have answered “No. Never. We’re perfect. In every way,” that is far from the truth. Neil and I love to cook but we have a ton to learn and we do, of course, sometimes screw up. A Parmesan ice cream incident and a tofu cupcake mishap are among two of the worst. We just don’t post about the screw-ups!

I know it may also appear that we’re constantly busy cooking up delicious things, but just like most other regular day-job-holding home cooks we have our moments of  “Let’s just order a pizza” or frequent nights when we’ll get home from work, look at each other and say “What should we do for dinner? I don’t feel like cooking.” That’s usually followed by blank stares and silence, followed by whining (mostly be me), and usually ending with Neil suggesting take out sushi from our favorite place or burgers from one of the many burger joints in the east end and me vying for vegetarian or Moroccan food from around our hood.

Sometimes we’re in the mood to eat at home, but are more interested in easily assembling something instead of actually cooking. We have a few go-to meals for such occasions, and one of those is dilled potatoes with smoked salmon and a very leafy green side salad.

I once saw my celeb crush Jamie Oliver make this easy meal on his beautiful show Jamie at Home. I didn’t write down the recipe (because there really isn’t one) but the idea stuck with me and we’ve been making it ever since. Jamie is known for using really fresh, simple ingredients and producing dishes that are bursting with flavor. I love how he just adores every ingredient he throws into a dish and speaks of each one like they’re all his little muses.

This meal is not fancy or fussy but it tastes amazing and is really quick to throw together if you have all the ingredients in your fridge. It took us 20 minutes from starting to sitting down at the table.

If you’re wondering what’s up with the rainbow smoked salmon in the photos, we decided to try President’s Choice Vodka Beet Smoked Atlantic Salmon, mostly because it was on sale, but also because we were curious. It’s really beautiful and would go over well for a nice brunch or dinner party, but we didn’t really think it added much to our dinner, aside from some nice color on the plate. The taste is really no different from their regular smoked salmon, though it may have been a bit less smoky-flavored. I actually like to use gravlax for this meal because it’s thinner and more delicate and kind of melts in your mouth, but any smoked salmon will do.

Don’t skimp on the herbs for the potatoes though – they really make the dish. And I find that the horseradish sauce just brings it all together nicely. We’re big fans of horseradish sauces for lots of different dishes, as evidenced here and here.

The other night when we made this, we served it with a simple raw kale salad dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and a touch of maple syrup. And I have to say, this dinner pairs well with a really good cold beer on the side. We had Beau’s All Natural Lug Tread Lagered Ale (we’re really loving their beer as well as their cool packaging) and it was the perfect complement to our simple but fulfilling Jamie O-inspired meal.

Smoked Salmon with Dilled Potatoes

Sauce:

Plain yogurt or sour cream

Lemon juice

Lemon zest

Prepared white horseradish

Potatoes:

A bunch of red or white mini potatoes

Dill, chopped

Chives, chopped

Good quality extra virgin olive oil

White balsamic or apple cider vinegar

Lemon juice

Sea salt

If you’re using frozen smoked salmon, take it out of the freezer a few hours before eating and let it thaw in the fridge.

We like to cut the potatoes into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Place potatoes in a steamer and steam until soft. We actually steam ours in the microwave for approximately 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. I never measure; just use your judgment and adjust to your taste.

Get your herbs and oil and vinegar ready so you can quickly work with the potatoes while they’re steaming hot. Prepare your salad.

Once the potatoes are done, transfer them to a big bowl, add in the herbs, drizzle in olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and a good amount of sea salt.

Bring everything to the table and let everyone serve themselves. The best way to eat this meal is to take a heaping spoonful of potatoes and then top them with pieces of smoked salmon and a little bit of sauce. Try to get a little bit of everything in each bite.

Simply Assembled: Mango Salad with Mint and Ginger & Kale ‘Chips’

6 Sep

On a recent trip to my hometown of Montreal, my sisters and I were inspired to make a fresh and healthy meal together after traipsing through the Atwater Market.

Using fresh ingredients and our favorite herbs and flavors, we created an amazing mango salad that needed no dressing at all.

I quickly pickled a red onion based on this recipe that I’ve made before. But to be honest, I didn’t even measure any of the ingredients or look at the recipe and proportions. We didn’t have enough rice wine vinegar so I used what we did have then topped it up with white balsamic, which I brought to a boil with some sugar, salt and pepper. I omitted the mustard seed and bay leaf because we didn’t have those either but no big deal, the onions still came out great. Once the vinegar came to a boil, I removed it from the heat and tossed in one whole red onion, sliced thinly. I let the onion sit in the vinegar cooling and pickling for about 45 minutes and then strained the pretty hot-pink slices and threw them right into the salad bowl.

It’s worth the effort because in this salad, the flavor from the pickled onions replaces the need for dressing. I think pickled onions are my new favorite ingredient. I can’t seem to stop making them and adding them to everything.

My sister came up with the idea to add grated ginger and lime zest, which brought so many layers of flavor to this colorful salad. She also chopped up the mint and cilantro extremely finely, which helped distribute the herbs evenly throughout, making sure every bite had a nice mix of each.

To assemble the salad – Mix in a large bowl:

3-4 Mangos, sliced into thin strips

Yellow, Red or Orange Pepper, sliced into thin strips

1 Pickled Red Onion, in slices

Fresh Cilantro, chopped very finely

Fresh Mint, chopped very finely

Grate a good amount of fresh ginger directly into the bowl

Add the grated zest and juice of 1 lime into the bowl and mix it all together.

We served this refreshing salad with bun-less homemade lamb burgers and oven-roasted kale ‘chips’ which you can make in a flash for one of the healthiest and tastiest side dishes ever. I always feel so good after eating kale and this is a great way to get a good dose of the healthy green.

To make the ‘chips’: (yes I know, they’re not really chips, but they’re an awesome alternative and they seriously taste amazing!)

Throw a bunch of cleaned and dried kale onto a baking sheet, brush with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Then toss into a 400-degree oven for about 5-8 minutes, until crispy. Don’t overcook the kale though, because the ‘crispier’ it gets, the more of a mess it is to eat. You just want the flowery edges to be nice and crispy and the stems to be soft and tender.

Roasted Tofu and Squash with Kale

11 May

I’m always trying to get Neil to appreciate tofu, one of my favorites. Whenever I make it he tells himself that he’s not going to love it, that it won’t be satisfying and that he’s really just eating it for me. But somehow, at the end of every tofu meal, he admits to liking it.

Tonight I was craving something really healthy, leafy and low in fat and salt, and this is what transpired. It was delicious! I’ve never roasted tofu before and it came out so moist and had such a great texture and flavor.

Try it. You’ll like it. Neil might have even said that he really liked it.

Roasted tofu and squash with steamed ginger-lime kale

1 package extra firm tofu, dried and cut into cubes

Butternut squash, cubed

1 bunch of kale

Fresh ginger

Grape tomatoes

1 lime

Preheat oven to 375 C. In a baking dish, drizzle the cubes of tofu and squash with olive oil and grind some fresh pepper overtop. Roast in the oven for approx 40-45 minutes, mixing and turning pieces over half way through.

Rinse the kale to get rid of dirt (you really have to clean every leaf if you want to get rid of the sandy bits).

Chop ginger into small pieces. Drizzle a bit of olive oil into a large pan on medium-high heat, add ginger and sauté for a few minutes. Add the kale and squeeze in the juice of half a lime. Cover. The kale should steam pretty quickly within a few minutes. Watch it to make sure it doesn’t wilt too much or turn brown. You want to keep that bright green color! A few minutes before serving, add in the grape tomatoes to heat through.

For sauce:

Juice of half a lime

Agave nectar

Grated ginger

Citrus-seasoned soy sauce (I used Kikkoman Ponzu sauce)

I made a quick sauce by mixing the above ingredients (I don’t measure! Use your judgment) and I poured it overtop of the tofu and squash when it came out of the oven.

This was really easy and quick to make and satisfied my craving for something healthy while still keeping a wannabe ‘meat-a-tarian’ and lover of bacon happy and satisfied. Mission accomplished.

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