Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kale is the new black.  

Yes, that dark, green, leafy, good-for-you veggie is now fashionable, and being served in a fine restaurant near you, as a side dish, a salad or even as chips to accompany a well-crafted cocktail.

If you’re like most Americans, your first encounter with kale was a sloppy looking mess of soggy, dark green. And if that first experience was also your last, it’s time to give kale another chance .

I love this recipe. It uses kale raw, so it’s crunchy, not soggy.  And the dressing in this salad is light and fresh and takes full advantage of kale’s crunch and naturally nutty flavor.

This goes together quickly and can be prepared a day ahead of serving.

·         1 large bunch kale
·         One generous cup of good, homemade coarse breadcrumbs (or you can crush store-bought croutons in a plastic bag until they are the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs)
·         1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
·         ½ cup dried currants, soaked in a cup of warm water for 10 minutes and drained
·         1/2 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
·         1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus additional shredded cheese for garnish (you can substitute parmesan)
·         3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish (use the BEST oil you have!)
·         Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon (just about 1/4 cup)  Tip: Squeeze your lemons into a cup through a tea strainer so you don’t have to pick out seeds.
·         1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Trim the bottom inches of the kale stems and discard. Slice the kale into 3/4-inch ribbons; this should yield about 5 cups. Place the kale in a large bowl.

Mince the garlic and mix it in a small bowl with 1/4 teaspoon of salt until it looks like a paste. (You can also do this with a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with the side of your chef’s knife). 

Combine the garlic paste with the 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper and whisk to combine.

Pour the dressing over the kale, add the pine nuts and currants, and toss very well (the dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat the leaves).. Let the salad sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with the bread crumbs, additional cheese, and a drizzle of oil.

Adapted from the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Chiles and Pecorino recipe in Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pretty in Pink

There may be no vegetable prettier than a bunch of fresh radishes, all preppy hot pink and green and piled up in a colorful tumble at your local farmer's market. They're almost impossible to resist, so I always end up buying a bunch, cutting a few up into a salad and feeling like they really didn't live up to their looks. (Sort of like that hot guy that you lusted after for months, only to discover he was completely devoid of personality.)  I also hate that I always throw away those beautiful green tops...surely there must be some way to use those? And I wondered, could I cook the radishes? Would that mellow their flavor?

The radishes in the market this year have been particularly gorgeous...large and round and perfect, with crisp, fresh greens attached. So I've been on a quest to find new ways to prepare them, with great success, I am happy to report.

 Radish, cucumber and edamame salad with fresh mint.

This is SO simple:
 English cucumber, diced
shelled edamame, thawed
radishes, chopped
lemon juice, EVOO
fresh mint, chives chive blossoms salt/pepper to taste

 Do you really need measurements here? I think not. Just wing it. So pretty!

 Steamed radishes with sauteed greens, lemon chive butter and chive blossoms

Cut the radishes from the bunch and trim. Wash the greens well. Sautee the greens in a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Steam the radishes in a covered dish in the microwave with about a cup of water, until they are just getting tender. Set aside and melt 1/4 cup of butter, stir in a handful of minced chives and a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Pour over the radishes and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange greens and radishes on a plate and scatter chive blossoms over them. (If you don't have chive blossoms, you can just skip this. They look pretty but are only available for a few weeks in the spring. You could substitute other edible blossoms.)

Stop by, bring wine.

Preferably good wine. Food would be good, too.