Arugula Stuffed Baked Potatoes

IMG_2783I love arugula. But sometimes I want something a little more substantial than a salad. Here’s a simple recipe combining arugula with another one of my favorites – potatoes.  It’s really just a well dressed arugula salad squeezed right inside of a potato. I find that the spiciness of the arugula pairs well with the lemon and tarragon flavors of the creamy dressing, as well as the contrasting softness of the warm potato. And it really beats the unhealthy, traditional loaded baked potato. Two of these made a satisfying dinner with some extra arugula and dressing on the side.  Crumbling some crispy turkey bacon on top would add a healthy source of protein. Can’t wait to make this again with potatoes from my garden later this summer!

Short on time? Microwave two potatoes for 12 minutes then bake until crispy. Too hot for the oven? Wrap seasoned and slightly oiled potatoes in foil and grill for 40 minutes. 

Ingredients

  •  2 medium to large baking potatoes
  • sea salt
  • olive oil or butter
  • 2 large handfuls of arugula

dressing:

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • a couple leaves of tarragon, chopped
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Scrub the potatoes and then prick all over with a fork. Sprinkle with sea salt. A light coating of olive oil helps the salt stick, but better yet, creates a crisper skin. Bake until tender – about 45 minutes.

While the potatoes bake, make the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.

When done cooking, slice the potatoes open. Toss the arugula with the dressing. You can scoop some of the potato flesh out to make room for the dressed arugula, but I just kind of pile it right on top and dig in.

Adapted from 101cookbooks.com

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.

In The Mood For Salad?

I am. It’s been a long, pretend winter this year, and Everyday Chefs all over may want to break up the soup schedule with some interesting new flavors. And, it’s great timing. Word around town is that greens have resurfaced at the weekly farmers’ market.

This healthy winter salad is the perfect way to marry basement butternut squash with these lovely green gems from the market.

Butternut Squash and Smoky Black Bean Salad Adapted from Cooking Light

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 7 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 bag of winter greens
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese

PREPARATION

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Combine squash and 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Arrange squash on baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until tender.

3. Arrange walnuts on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon salt over nuts; toss. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring a couple of times.  Watch them carefully–toasted becomes burnt rather quickly.

4. Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, paprika and oregano in a bowl; stir with a whisk.

5. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add squash, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, pepper, and beans; cook 3 minutes or until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in 3 tablespoons dressing; toss to coat.

6. Combine remaining dressing and arugula; toss to coat. Divide arugula mixture evenly among 4 plates; top with bean mixture. Sprinkle evenly with nuts and cheese.

Kale Chips

We all hear about the health benefits of Kale. And you’ve probably heard about one Vermont artist’s campaign to Eat More Kale. But let’s face it; if something doesn’t taste good to you, then you’re simply not going to eat it – no matter its antioxidant count or popularity.

Unlike salad greens, kale is not sweet and tender in its initial state and it is easy to see how one might be turned off by it at first bite. However, there is a way to transform kale’s taste and texture into something completely different – a chip. Yes, crispy like the potato chip, but without the excess fat, calories, and need to fry. In fact, kale chips are incredibly easy to prepare, taste good, and retain the green’s healthy qualities. So, before you look to give that bunch of kale away to the first person who will take it, try out these chips.

This is the basic recipe to get you started with kale chips. It is seasoned with nothing more than sea salt. Feel free to experiment.

Ingredients:

  • One bunch of kale
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Sea salt
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 300°F.
  2. Give your bunch of kale a good rinse and then pat dry with a clean towel.
  3. Remove the center rib and any tough stems. This can be done either by pulling the leaves right off or by running a sharp knife down either side of the rib. Discard the ribs for the compost pile.
  4. Tear the leaves into large to medium sized pieces and throw into a large bowl.
  5. Toss the chips with the olive oil and sea salt to taste.
  6. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray and then arrange the chips in a single layer.
  7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes or until crisp.
  8. Place the chips on a rack to cool, that is, if you aren’t eating them right out of the oven.

Frittata with Spring Greens

A frittata is a tasty combination of eggs, vegetables, and cheese cooked on the stove and then finished in the oven. This is a basic recipe that can be widely adapted.

Frittata with Spring Greens

Ingredients • One large sweet or yellow onion, diced • One clove of garlic, minced (if desired) • 2 tbs of butter or olive oil • One bunch of green vegetables: chose one or more: spinach, asparagus, swiss chard, kale, arugula, scallions, leeks, etc., rough chopped • 3/4 to full cup of your favorite cheese: shredded cheddar, ricotta, goat chevre, feta–just about anything works! • 1/4 cup grated parmesan for the top • 8-10 eggs • ½ cup cream, half and half, or milk • salt and pepper to tastePreparation Melt butter or warm oil in a heavy, ovenproof, non-stick or cast iron skillet (approximately 10 inch). Saute onion and garlic in the butter or oil until translucent. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cheese with salt and pepper. Add chopped vegetables to the skillet and saute briefly (longer for thicker veg like asparagus). Add egg mixture to skillet; fold gently to combine. Cook until almost set. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Broil until frittata is puffed and cheese begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Rhubarb… Salad?

Yes!  Spring’s queen of tartness can be eaten in a main course.  Though Everyday Chef loves sweet and tart rhubarb desserts, we also love to explore new flavors–this Roasted Beet and Rhubarb Salad recipe from the Domestic Diva is surprisingly fresh and flavorful.

Roasted Beet and Rhubarb Salad with Orange Tarragon Dressing The Domestic Diva

 

For the dressing: 1 lemon, zested and juiced 1 orange, zested and juiced 1 tbsp tarragon, chopped finely 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar 1 pinch of nutmeg 1 tsp Dijon mustard ½ cup grapeseed, canola, or olive oil

salt and white pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients except oil in blender or food processor and pulse.  Slowly add oil, until dressing is thick. OR, place all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shake vigorously.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

For the salad: 1-2 lbs of beets. (red, chioggia or yellow) olive oil salt and pepper 1 pound rhubarb 1 cup of sugar in 2 quarts of boiling water

1 lb of your favorite spring greens:  arugula, spinach, mesclun mix, baby beet greens, etc.

Wash rhubarb and cut into small bite size bites. Wash beets, toss in oil with salt and pepper, wrap in aluminum foil and place in 400 degree oven until tender.  Remove from oven, allow to cool, and rub off skins. Slice beets into bite-size quarters and place in a bowl.  Place rhubarb in boiling water just long enough for rhubarb to become slightly tender—not mushy!  Add to beets.

Place greens in a bowl and toss with just enough dressing to coat.  Pour out on a platter and sprinkle warm rhubarb and beet mixture over the top and serve. Beets and rhubarb should be warm when placed on the greens.   Feta, blue cheese, and slivered almonds make wonderful additions.

Braising Greens

Braising is a cooking method that involves both dry and moist heat and can be achieved in a pan on top of the stove. What’s great about braising greens is that it’s the same technique for whichever green you chose to use: kale, escarole, collards and Swiss chard are all good options. You can even mix different greens together. This makes a great side dish any night of the week.

Braised GreensServes 4 Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water, broth, or white wine
  • 1 large bunch of rinsed and roughly torn greens  (6 – 8 cups)

Preparation

  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  2. Add garlic, red pepper, and greens.
  3. Cook until greens just begin to wilt.
  4. Add in the liquid and salt.
  5. Simmer until liquid has reduced in half and greens are tender.

Spinach Smoothie

Adding leafy greens into your or your child’s diet may seem like a challenge.  Everyday Chef and Everyday Kids are here to tell you that it’s not as hard as it looks!  Getting a variety of leafy green vegetables into your diet is extremely important.  These veggies minimize the risk of cancer and heart disease because they are so low in fat and so high in dietary fiber.  Leafy greens also contain tons of nutrients, vitamins, and enzymes, including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins K, E, and C.  Greens are great for those with type two diabetes, as well, as they are low on the glycemic index and  high in magnesium.  Eating plenty of leafy green vegetables will not only make you feel better (they’re high in antioxidants, which boost your immune system), but they will also keep you younger for longer (phytochemicals in greens prevents cell damage and increases eye health). Ok, I think I’ve made quite an argument as to why you need to add more greens into your diet.  – But maybe you or your child don’t like the taste of greens in general.  There is quite an easy solution to this!  Start making “green smoothies” for breakfast every morning – you will not be able to taste the green ingredients because they are masked by the fruity flavors you love – but you’ll still enjoy all of the benefits.  Below is a recipe for a delicious spinach smoothie, but be be sure to seek out other smoothie recipes for different types of greens (kale, chard, etc.), as variety is key!  Trust me, you can get very creative.

Ingredients: 1.5 cup water 1 ripe banana, peeled 1/2 cup frozen strawberries 1 cup of fresh spinach

1. Add the water first, then the banana into a blender. 2. Follow with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. 3.  Enjoy!

Make sure to blend everything very well so that there aren’t bits of spinach floating around.  If you’re making this for a child who is afraid of anything green, feel free to add more strawberries or blueberries to the mix!

Root Salad

After doing quite a bit of research, I came  across a website that is extremely helpful for farm to school programs and healthy food tasting.  I recommend visiting Washington State’s Farm to School website and checking out their “Washington Grown Food Kit,” where you will find a number of links to vegetable and fruit nutrition and education facts, as well as recipes that are often split into appropriateness for schools, seniors, and child care.  This is where I found this mouth-watering root salad recipe that is perfect for preparing in the classroom or in your home kitchen. This recipe is adapted for a classroom size of 25! Each student would be able to try a 1/4 cup.

Ingredients: 1 pound Parsnips 1/2 pound Carrots 6 oz Beets 1 tbs Grated ginger 3 tbs Honey 3 tbs Fresh lemon juice 3 tbs Fresh orange juice 6 tbs Olive oil

Begin by cleaning and grating all vegetables and set aside.  Then, mix in the ginger, honey, fresh juices, and olive oil.  Combine the veggies into the homemade dressing and mix well.  Let stand for about one hour so that the vegetables can marinate.  Then serve and enjoy!

Pretty easy, huh?  – And a perfect recipe to do with students of all ages – knives aren’t necessary except to initially cut through the fruit (which an adult can surly handle before the salad preparation begins).  Also, using peelers to create ribbons of vegetables instead of graters can be a fun and safe way to get kids involved in the cooking. Adding raisins, cilantro, parsley, and/or scallions are other interesting and delicious variations to this recipe.

Happy Wednesday and remember to eat lots of vegetables !

Healthier Chocolate Beet Cake

In case you were wondering about chocolate beet cake, here is a delicious recipe (adapted from Straight from the Farm) that Everyday Kids used to reward our students for an excellent day of learning!

Ingredients: 3/4 cup butter, softened 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar 2 tsp baking soda 3 eggs at room temp 1/4 tsp salt 2-3 oz. dark chocolate 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 medium beets (2 cups pureed) 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp nutmeg

To make beet puree, trim stems and roots off beets and quarter them.  Place in a heavy saucepan filled with water and simmer for 50 minutes or until the beets are tender.  Drain off remaining liquid and rinse beets in cold water.  Slide skins off and place beets in blender or food processor.  Process until a smooth puree forms.  Let cool slightly.  Can be made up to several days ahead and refrigerated.

In a mixing bowl, add cream, butter and brown sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Melt chocolate using a double boiler or in the microwave and cool slightly. Blend chocolate, beets and vanilla into the creamed mixture.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch cake pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Eat as is, or sprinkle lightly with confectioners’ sugar.  For a decadent twist, whip up a batch of orange cream cheese frosting.

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