kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (9)

Kale, Caesar!

kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (9)My favorite way to eat kale is not new or trendy – I like it cooked tender and until it’s ​no longer bright green. But on a hot day or for company or a potluck, kale Caesar is refreshing and a little fancy.

Kale salad is trendy right now, and kale Caesar, specifically, is very Vermont chic.

Raw kale is a nice alternative or addition to lettuce in a salad – especially if you already have kale and don’t want to buy lettuce or salad greens. Plus, making croutons for Caesar salad is a good way to use up stale bread.

For eating raw in salads, choose fresh kale with smaller leaves. The flavor tends to get stronger as the leaves mature on the plant or in your fridge. Have a lot of older kale sitting around? Rip off a piece and see what it tastes like. A braise with plenty of salt, garlic, bacon fat,​ and a splash of leftover wine might be a better choice than a salad.

To prepare kale for any salad, pull the stems off and break leaves into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle them with a little salt and oil and squeeze them with your fists until the leaves get wilted and soft. People call this “massaging” the kale but I think that sounds weird. Add dressing and other ingredients and serve!

Here, we’re going to make Caesar salad with dressing and croutons from scratch. If you prefer, you can always use store bought croutons and/or Caesar dressing, but don’t be put off by the fairly straightforward  process of making your own. You’ll build kitchen skills and have a better end product.

–Bethany Fleishman, Vital Communities’ Transportation Program Assistant and former pastry chef, is contributing recipes this summer for our Valley Food & Farm program.

Photo credits: Julia A. Reed

Kale Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
Recipes adapted from Tyler Florence and from Natasha’s Kitchen

Ingredients

1-2 bunches green or lacinato/dinosaur kale

freshly grated Parmesan, or any hard sharp cheese from a local farm

Croutons
2 cups of stale bread, cubed or torn into chunks, crusts left on

2 T unsalted butter

2 T extra virgin olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves, smashed or minced

1 T fresh thyme, finely chopped, or 1 t dried thyme

1/4 t salt

1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

Dressing
4 anchovy fillets or 2 t anchovy pasteblueberry fool credit Julia A Reed (5)

1 clove garlic, smashed or minced

1 lemon, very well squeezed

1 yolk from a fresh local egg (save the white in the freezer to add to scrambled eggs or to make cakes or meringues)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (or any hard sharp cheese from a local farm)

freshly ground black pepper

salt

Make the croutons first:butter herbs cooking credit Julia A Reed
1. In a small saucepan, heat the butter, olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme, and pepper over medium heat until butter is melted and bubbly. Set aside and let the flavors infuse into the oil. (Wash the kale and pat dry while you wait.)
2. Drizzle the butter/olive oil mixture evenly ocroutons kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (1)ver the bread cubes and toss until they have an even coating of oil.
3. Spread the croutons in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 375˚F for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown and crunchy. Set aside to let cool.

Make the dressing next:
Blend the anchovies, garlic, egg yolk, and lemon juice for 30 seconds until the mixture is smooth (use an immersion blender in a tall mug or wide-mouth canning jar). With the blender running, pour the olive oil in slowly for the dressing to emulsify it. Stir in the Parmesan and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Season, to taste, with salt and set aside. Refrigerate the dressing if you will not be using it right away.blueberry fool credit Julia A Reed (13)

Assemble the salad:
Pull off the kale stems and break leaves into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle a little salt and olive oil/salad oil over the leaves and squeeze them with your fists until the kale gets
somewhat wilted and soft. Add enough dressing to coat the salad to your liking. Add the croutons and some extra Parmesan and toss the salad well.kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (7)

Eat it now or eat it tomorrow. The kale holds up well with dressing and a night in the fridge, but leave off the croutons until serving.

Summer squash salad photo Julia A Reed800x600

Summer Squash Salad

I’m making the most of the summer vegetable supply before the first frost shows up – which could be any day now – which is why this light, delicious summer squash salad is a perfect addition to any meal.

This recipe comes to us from the Norwich Inn‘s chef Luis Luna. The Inn served this on the summer menu and Luis was nice enough to share the recipe with Everyday Chef. Luis juliennes the squash with a mandolin –  which makes perfect shoestrings from the summer squash.  I don’t have a mondoline, so, I used a spiralizer – which can make vegetable “noodles” from almost any vegetable. My version wasn’t quite as professional looking, but it still tasted great.

summer squash salad ingredients

summer squash spiralizing400x250

Simply blanch the julienned squash and red peppers for 1 minute, drain and cool.

Mix together the lime juice, honey, water, sweet Thai chili sauce, and chives. combine the blanched vegetables with the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.

dressing ingredients400x250

Summer Squash Salad

4 summer squash, julienne
1 red pepper, julienne
juice from 3 limes
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 cup chives, chopped to 2″
1 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Summer squash salad photo Julia A Reed250x400

It’s that simple! I love this great new way to enjoy one of my favorite summer vegetables, that is light, easy, a so quick to make!

 

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Chard, Beet & Orange Salad

I’m a big fan of salads that aren’t just plain old salads. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, of course. But salads don’t all have to be a big bowl of lettuce. Maybe you can already figure that out from some of the other recipes I’ve posted. Raw or cooked. Hot or cold. Really, a salad can be whatever you throw together and toss with dressing.

chardbeets

Future Chefs Challenge second-place winner Izabela Woolf with her White and Green Goodness salad. (Albert J. Marro / photo)

Earlier this spring, I was a judge in Sodexo’s Future Chef Challenge where Rutland fourth and fifth graders competed with their favorite salad recipes. With tasty combinations like tortellini salad, southwestern salad, Greek salad and Thanksgiving salad, those talented kids proved the point I’m trying to make. You can find an article I wrote about the event about the event in The Rutland Reader.

The combination of grated raw beets, lightly cooked rainbow chard, bright, juicy oranges and tangy balsamic dressing in this salad is refreshing and simple. It’s a good way to get beet detractors to give the vegetable another try. They’ve probably never had them like this – crunchy and raw, so they might be surprised this time around. At least, that was my experience when I served this for my sister – who actually wanted to keep the leftovers after dinner. And at a recent demo at GE, attendees quickly finished up the entire bowl I made for them and I didn’t hear one beet complaint. Woohoo!

On the other hand, the quick cooking down of the chard takes away some of the bitterness people often encounter when trying the green raw. Yet that aspect is no longer an issue here. All around, this salad will change your preconceptions. Give it a try at your next picnic.

  Sauteed Chard and Raw Beet Salad

  • 3-4 medium-sized beets with the leaves
  • 1 large bunch rainbow chard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • 1 medium orange, peeled and segmented

For the dressing:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Peel the beets and either grate them on a box grater or in a food processor. If you’d rather not have your hands stained purple, handle the beets with paper towels or wear gloves. You should have about 2-3 cups grated beets in the end.

Wash the chard. Shake to remove excess water, but no need to dry. Separate the stems and ribs from the leaves either carefully with a knife or by simply tearing by hand. Give the ribs a rough chop. Stack the leaves on top of each other and slice them crosswise into thick ribbons.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stems and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the leaves of the chard and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leaves have wilted and taste tender. If the leaves still taste bitter, season with additional salt. Transfer the chard to a large bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes.

To make the dressing, combine ingredients in a small jar and shake until thoroughly mixed.

Combine the greens and the shredded beets, and toss with the vinaigrette. Serve, topping each plate with goat cheese, if using, and orange pieces.

This salad will keep refrigerated for up to one week, but wait to dress and top with goat cheese until just before serving.

Adapted from Elizabeth Passarella at The Kitchn

bean-grain-and-green-salad

Bean, Green & Grain Salad

We’ve talked about cooking with grains in the past. If you don’t recall, here is a chart of how to cook 10 common grains for your reference.

September_Handout-2

And cooking dried beans was another past topic in the post on RAFL’s Everyday Cehf titled A Beginner’s Guide to Dried Beans.

beans
spinach-2

What I love about this recipe is that everything is interchangeable. Use the grains, beans and type of greens that you like most or have on hand – it doesn’t matter.

Serve it hot or cold, as a side or main dish, vegetarian or chock full of bacon. (If you go the bacon route try a maple smoked variety – adds some amazing flavor.) It’s all up to what you like and want to do. And in the end, you can even top it with your preferred dressing.

bacon1


Bean, Green & Grain Salad

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main dish

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp butter or oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces of spinach or other spring greens
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans or your favorite bean variety
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa or your favorite grain variety

If using bacon: Heat a skillet on medium heat and add chopped bacon. Fry until golden brown, then remove bacon with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel, keeping the bacon drippings in the pan.

If not using bacon: Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.

Add onions and mushrooms to the pan and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and
spinach and stir for 2-3 minutes, until spinach is wilted down.

Add in beans and quinoa. Turn off heat and stir in bacon (if used). Serve as a main entree or side dish. Dress with your favorite dressing for extra flavor, if desired.

bean-grain-and-green-salad

Thai Beef Salad

photo (1)

We’re nearing the end of the July and that means we’re also wrapping up our salad for dinner theme. You’d think with a whole month dedicated just to salads that things would get boring fast. But, as I’ve said before in Six Steps to an Awesome Dinner Salad, the key is mixing up flavors and ingredients. And as I’ve played around with those notions in the kitchen this month, I’ve realized that at some point I almost forgot that what I’m making and eating actually are salads. Not convinced? Well, I’ve got another salad for you: Thai beef. Guest Chef Yvonne Brunot, of Right Mind Farm and I, worked our way through this simple recipe at one of our farm to workplace cooking demonstrations. If you’re unfamiliar with Thai food and have always thought it sounded a little too adventurous for your cooking abilities, here’s your chance to see how wrong you are. And you probably already have most of the ingredients that constitute this salad as Thai cuisine on hand.

THAI BEEF SALAD

Of course, as a salad, this dish highlights produce you can find growing locally right now – lettuce, cilantro, garlic and onions, for instance. Though, as always, change things up to your liking. I threw in peas instead of peppers, as you can see in the picture, and chicken or tofu would be great as well.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, or reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 head lettuce, halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
  • 3/4 pound sirloin steak, trimmed of fat and thinly sliced
  • 3 jalapeno or serrano chili peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 orange, peeled and white pith removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts

Stir together fish or soy sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl. Arrange lettuce on individual plates. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Stir-fry beef, in batches, until browned on the outside and still pink inside, about 1 minute per batch. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan and cook chili peppers, onions and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the sauce-sugar  mixture and bring to a boil, stirring. Remove from the heat and stir in orange and cilantro. Place the beef on top of the lettuce, spoon over the sauce, top with the peanuts and serve.

Salad Greens: Pick Dark and Loose

greens

As you set out to form the perfect dinner salad this summer, consider what greens you choose for your base. Though they’re all some shade of green, they’re not all equal, or even comparable, in nutritional value. In fact, the differences between iceberg lettuce and spinach, for instance, are astonishing. But you don’t need to have nutritional data memorized to make wise choices. A simple rule of thumb is to go for the darker and looser varieties. Not to pick on iceberg, or put any iceberg farmers out of business, but iceberg lettuce has some of the fewest vitamins and antioxidants out of all of your salad green options. It’s no coincidence that it also happens to be a very light green color and the leaves form a tight head – the exact opposite of what you should look for. Iceberg’s low nutrient count is due to its high water content, which equates to roughly 96%. Yet, for some reason it still remains one of our country’s most popular lettuces. Romaine, on the other hand, with darker leaves and a looser form, has much more to offer. And if you care about taste or texture, I’d say it beats out iceberg in those departments as well.

What is it that makes darker greens more worth your while? Vitamin K is at the top of the list – the vitamin that helps your blood clot, protects your bones and can even help prevent certain cancers. Then, there is folic acid (folate), a type of B vitamin that is necessary for healthy cell formation and is especially important for pregnant women. Vitamin A is another prevalent nutrient found in many greens. It helps improve eyesight and strengthens the immune system.

If you’re stuck on iceberg, all is not lost. The pale green does contain some nutritional value, just not much when considering the alternatives. Instead, try a mix of greens, whether you’re an iceberg fan or an all around green lover. It will allow you to experience a variety of nutrients, as well as tastes and textures. You can often find bags of mixed greens at the market, or buy a few different ones and experiment. I was pick a variety of greens from my garden when putting together a salad and it never gets boring.

 

Two New Salads Featuring Two Exciting Veggies

Kale and mango salad

On Friday, Everyday Chef gave out samples of two salads at Friday Night Live in downtown Rutland. While they weren’t technically dinner salads – our theme of the month- I thought they were great because they utilized two main ingredients that many people are not familiar with – kale and kohlrabi. Despite the unfamiliarity, both items are grown at Radical Roots Farm right here in Rutland. A visit to their farm stand, which is open on Tuesdays, or any of the stands at the downtown farmers’ market, proves that one doesn’t need to travel far to discover new flavors and healthy, tasteful, items to cook. Or, in the case of these salad recipes, you don’t even need to do any cooking to enjoy. Note: If you want to make these salads into full dinners, you could try a piece of grilled chicken on top of the kale salad and a grilled pork chop on top of the kohlrabi.

KALE AND MANGO SALAD

While you probably won’t find mangoes in Vermont any time soon, this is an example of how to incorporate a more exotic item with something you can find in Vermont throughout the summer and into the fall. Massaging the kale leaves really helps soften them down and transform the texture into more of a lettuce-like consistency. And when paired with the sweetness of the mango and dressing, I think people were surprised with the results. 

Serves 4     Prep: 15 minutes

  • 1 bunch kale stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 mango, diced (about 1 cup)
  • Small handful toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds

In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little kosher salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms, and you like how it tastes. Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango and pumpkin seeds. Toss and serve.

From: foodnetwork.com 

KOHLRABI AND APPLE COLESLAW

Between the two – kale and kohlrabi – people sampling our salads seemed to know less about the kohlrabi. The part that is most often eaten, and that is used here, is the swollen stem that loosely resembles a turnip. However, kohlrabi grows above ground rather than under. Its taste is comparable to cabbage and broccoli, but a little more sweet, which is why it pairs well  here with the tartness of apples and tang of the yogurt dressing. This is a great way to change up a traditional summer barbecue dish. I added in a few handfuls of dried cranberries to add some color. Out of the two salads I gave out, this one disappeared the quickest. 

Serves 4   Prep: 15 minutes

  • 1 large kohlrabi or 2 small, peeled
  • 1 large tart apple or 2 small, cored
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • juice of half a lemon, or 2 tablespoons
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Julienne the kohlrabi and apple. You can use a mandoline or do it manually. If doing manually: slice the kohlrabi and the apple thinly, then stack slices and cut into matchsticks. Note: You may want to sprinkle the apple with lemon juice to prevent browning. For the honey yogurt dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, honey, pepper, and salt. Toss in the kohlrabi and apple, and mix well. Let sit 10 minutes before to allow the flavors to mingle.

From shinycooking.com

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Six Steps To An Awesome Dinner Salad

 salad

July is here and so is Everyday Chef’s new theme: the Dinner Salad. As the weather heats up we’ll be here to help you transform a simple side salad into a complex, satisfying meal that will leave you largely out of the kitchen and with more time to enjoy your summer days. Not to mention, a salad is an ideal opportunity to utilize all of the beautiful, seasonal foods that surround us here in Vermont during the month of July. Your salad misconceptions will end here. As RAFFL’s Executive Director, Tara Kelly, likes to say, “It’s not just rabbit food!” And she’s right. A salad dinner incorporates a variety of greens, vegetables, proteins, fruits, dressings and toppings. The combinations of flavors and textures are endless, but more importantly, a salad can be a fulfilling dinner – even for the hungriest of individuals.

Here’s how, in six steps:

 

And here are a few of our related posts to get you started on your salad planning.

Grilled Romaine

With the Fourth of July holiday weekend(s) kicking off in just a day, you’re probably dreaming of all the grilled foods you’ll soon be enjoying. And believe it or not, salad can be one of them. Briefly grilling halved Romaine heads adds a nice charred flavor that just tastes like summer. Red onion, soft blue cheese and crispy bacon bring a variety of flavors and textures – a quality you should strive for when assembling any salad. Then, a balsamic reduction drizzled over it all adds an amazing level of tangy sweetness. With a little imagination, you could even stretch this to fulfill your red, white and blue quota. Have a delicious Fourth!

GRILLED ROMAINE WITH BALSAMIC AND BLUE CHEESE

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 lb diced bacon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 heads romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  1. Preheat the grill to high.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy. If not using bacon, go ahead and cook the onions until they start to become translucent.
  3. Remove the onion and bacon from the pan and add the balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp olive oil. Reduce for 2 –3 minutes then remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Brush the Romaine with the remaining olive oil. Place on the grill cut side down until grill marks are visible, about 2 minutes.
  5. For each serving, place half a Romaine head grilled-side up on a plate and drizzle over the balsamic. Sprinkle with blue cheese, bacon and onions, and garnish with cracked black pepper.

Serves 6

Adapted from Food Network Magazine, June 2011

The Dirt On Salad Spinners

I have a very small kitchen and no room to waste on unnecessary appliances and gadgets – not even a toaster. So there are only a select few items that I consider worthy of taking up my precious kitchen space. A salad spinner is one of them. Deemed unnecessary or extravagant by some, if you grow your own greens, or buy them from a farm, it is well worth the investment. I actually enjoy finding dirt, and sometimes even insects, clinging to my greens. It reminds me of where they came from – real soil and real people. Nevertheless, I want my greens clean before eating. The best way to make that happen is to immediately submerge the freshly picked or purchased greens in a bowl of cold water. Then, give them a shake to release any particles to the bottom of the bowl. Cold water is important here because it helps the greens maintain their crispness.

After rinsing is when the salad spinner comes into play. If need be, I tear the greens into smaller pieces. This is certainly required with head lettuces, like Romaine, which are not going to fit into a spinner while intact. Tearing greens by hand is the ideal method, as chopping with a knife can cause bruising. Once the greens are in the spinner, put the lid on and spin. Sometimes this is achieved by turning a crank and other times it requires pulling a string. Either way, I find it kind of fun. Several spins are probably going to be necessary to get the greens sufficiently dry. In some cases, you might find you need to repeat the rinse and spin process a couple of times.

What I also like about a spinner is that when I’m done drying my greens, I empty out the water, place a paper towel right inside, and store the whole container in the fridge until using. Of course, a plastic bag with a paper towel inside also works. But if you’re still not sold on a spinner, here’s one additional use: perfectly dressing a salad. Adding the dressing right to the spinner (after drying) makes it easy to get the greens coated and prevents a pool of dressing in the bottom of your salad bowl. Or, you could evenly coat pieces of kale with olive oil when makingKale Chips.

The bottom line is that if greens are properly rinsed, dried, and stored, they will remain at their prime for as long as possible – giving you the most for your money. Sure, this could all be completed without a spinner. You could shake the greens dry in between paper towels or clean kitchen cloths, but I find that leads to unnecessary waste or laundry and simply does not do as good of a job. I don’t know about you, but I eat greens all summer long and know that the spinner will be in use throughout the season – much more than that dust accumulating slow cooker. A decent spinner can be found for about fifteen dollars. I actually found one for just a dollar at a yard sale a few weeks ago. By no means should you consider this a luxury item, but rather, the most useful kitchen tool of the summer.

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