Kale and crispy quinoa salad with apricots

Crispy quinoa salad with kale and apricots was a success. #vegan #vscocam

People are often impressed (or pretend to be impressed) when they see our garden. They think it’s because we are serious about hyper-local organic vegetables but the real reason I keep a garden is because I’m often too lazy to go to the supermarket and like the convenience of foraging for veggies in the backyard when I need to cook dinner.

Our apricot tree is just starting to bloom.  In the usual race to pick ripe apricots before the birds and squirrels get to them, I wanted a way to use not quite perfect apricots as well as a way to use the bountiful kale that’s in the garden.  I had some leftover cooked quinoa in the fridge I also wanted to use up.

As with all my dishes, I free-styled this one, so there’s not so much a precise recipe — more like a suggestion of how to throw things together.

Ingredients:

  • lacinato kale
  • 4-5 ripe but not too soft apricots
  • 1.5 cup cooked quinoa
  • almonds
  • a few sprigs holy basil
  • 1 shallot
  • orange marmelade
  • sherry vinegar
  • olive oil
  • aleppo pepper
  • ground cumin
  • ground ginger
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

De-stem the kale, wash, and thoroughly dry. I use a salad spinner for this, but swinging it around in some kitchen towels also works.  Chop the kale roughly so the pieces are smaller than a dime. Put the kale in a large salad bowl and throw in a pinch of salt and a couple glugs of olive oil.  Now use your hands and massage the kale, making sure to distribute the oil and salt.  Don’t be afraid to squeeze the kale. After a minute of massage, set it aside. The kale will tenderize while you prepare the other ingredients.

Put a tablespoon of oil on a skillet and spread about half the amount of cooked quinoa out on the bottom of the skillet.  Sprinkle on some aleppo pepper. The quinoa should be in one layer.  The heat on the pan should be high enough that there’s a slight sizzling sound.  Keep an eye on the quinoa and toss and re-spread every couple of minutes to prevent burning.  In the meantime, in another pan, toast the almonds, tossing every few minutes to prevent burning.

Remove the pits from the apricot and chop roughly to the size of M&M’s.  Put the apricots in the bowl with the kale.

Now for the dressing. Get out a glass jar with lid to mix the salad dressing in.  Mince the shallots and put in the jar. Top with a few tablespoons of oil and 1/3 as much vinegar.  Throw in a pinch of salt and a pepper.  Put in half a teaspoon of orange marmalade, or more if you like your salad sweeter.  Put in a small pinch of cumin and a small pinch of ground ginger. Cap the jar and give it a good couple of shakes to mix everything up.

Finely chop the holy basil.

When the quinoa is toasted (took me 10 mins) the almonds should be done too. Chop up the almonds and add them to the kale.  Add the rest of the (untoasted) quinoa to the kale, and then add everything else (toasted quinoa, holy basil, toasted almonds) to the bowl. Top with the salad dressing and mix, mix, mix.  Taste the salad and add more salt if needed.  Serve and eat immediately.

I thought I had made enough to eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow, which would also give me a chance to see how well this salad kept, but we ended up eating everything for dinner, so I have no idea if the quinoa would stay crispy or not, sorry.

Roasted Vegetables

An easy thing to make for dinner is a plate full of roasted vegetables. Once the vegetables are washed and cut into bite-sized pieces, it’s only a matter of throwing them in some olive oil, seasoning, salt and pepper, and then letting them roast in the oven for 45-60 minutes.

DSC_5270

This batch has sliced sunchokes, cauliflower, sweet potato, and kale. I put the cauliflower, potatoes and sunchokes in the oven first, then the washed and trimmed kale halfway through, on top to crisp. The kale turned out super crispy, like little kale chips. I enjoyed those, but the BF not so much.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Better late than never!  Thanksgiving week was hectic with the shorter work week and food preparations. Then, last week was hectic with two company holiday parties, company staying over, and playing too much Gyromancer, which is why these pictures of our Thanksgiving dinner is coming in so late.

Thanksgiving Dinner

We had lots of kale this year. Kale in the stuffing. A raw kale salad. Kale in quiche. And even a bunch left-over for later.

Thanksgiving Dinner

I made a wild mushroom (chanterelles, porcini, and cremini) and kale quiche.  I used Thomas Keller’s buttery pastry shell recipe for the quiche crust and subbed in vegan shortening instead of the butter. It was a whole lot of oil, but I have to admit that the crust was crispy, rich, flaky, perfect. The quiche wasn’t half-bad either. Even the kale-hater of the enemy ate some of this quiche! This will definitely be made again.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Also on our dinner table was the BF’s cornbread and bourbon stuffing, roasted root vegetables with a maple glaze, brussel sprouts, kale with meyer lemon dressing, seitan roulade, Beijing duck (courtesy of my parents and Sam Woo), cranberry and orange relish, cranberry sauce, roasted smashed potatoes, fresh shell bean salad, and mushroom gravy.

Thanksgiving Dinner

For dessert, I made vegan pumpkin muffins topped with a lemon glaze and toasted walnuts. I had run out of sweetener (honey) for the batter, but it came out fine because the spices lended enough flavor and I don’t like overly sweet muffins anyway.  I roughly used this recipe except I subbed in 1.5 cups all purpose flour for the whole wheat, and veganized it*.

Hosting Thanksgiving was tiring, but I think everything we cooked came out well and there wasn’t some horrible kitchen disaster and it was finished at our planned time. Hoooray for us.

* Instead of buttermilk, I used the same measure of soy milk and 1 tsp of white vinegar to make it curdle. I left out the 2 eggs entirely and replaced it with about 1Tbs ground flax seed and about 1/2Tbs water mixed together.