Massaged Kale Salad With Random Stuff

It was 84F today and I didn’t want to warm up the kitchen by cooking. Luckily, there were a few bunches of kale in the fridge, two carrots from the garden, and more kumquats than I know what to do with from the neighbor’s yard. Dinner was kale salad. I get this paranoia when I make salad that it wouldn’t be filling enough. Maybe that’s why I ended up adding so much stuff to it.

Dinner: Massaged kale salad with dates, kumquats, pistachios, avocados, carrots, preserved lemons.

The kale was de-ribbed, washed, rinsed, and dried. Then I made a dressing of preserved meyer lemons, the juice of half a fresh meyer lemon, olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, and black pepper.  I shook the dressing in a small bottle, dumped it onto the kale, and got my hands in there massaging the oil into the salad.  Once every leaf was evenly coated, I let it sit for 45 minutes. It’s important to let the kale sit so that it can tenderize in the dressing.

In the meantime, I did some yoga (wow, kale AND yoga??), sliced up two small carrots, a handful of dates, and a handful of kumquats. I also added some roughly chopped pistachios and chopped tempeh bacon I crisped up in a pan.  At the last minute, I chopped up a pretty ripe avocado, added everything to the kale, and smushed it around with my bare hands. Barbaric, I know.

I’m happy to say the salad kept me and Will pretty full for dinner.

Warm Lentil and Potato Salad

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For eating vegetarian at home, we don’t have lentils as often as we should. Now that I’ve made this warm lentil salad for the first time and realized how easy it was, maybe we’ll have lentils more often.

The puy lentils (I like these because they don’t break down as much when they’re cooked) were boiled in some water with a quarter of an onion, a carrot, and bay leaf. Those additions to the water flavor the lentils.

While the lentils were cooking, I chopped some yukon gold potatoes into bite-sized pieces and then boiled them in salted water until they were done.  I fished the potatoes out of the water and set them aside in a strainer to cool. With the remaining boiling water, I blanched a bunch of kale and then rinse in cold water.  I then chopped the kale up roughly.

When the lentils are cooked to a point where they’re soft enough to eat, but not so soft they fall apart, I drained them, and mixed them in with the potatoes and kale.  The carrot that I had boiling with the lentils was chopped into a fine dice and also added to the salad.

I made a dressing of grainy mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a splash of white wine vinegar.  I poured that over the warm potato and lentil salad and tossed to coat.  Finally, I rinsed some cold lettuce we had in the fridge, tore it into pieces, and mixed it in with the warm salad.

This lentil and potato salad may sound like it has a lot of steps, but they’re all very simple and it’s easy to make a big batch at a time.  It’s also one of those things that gets better if it sits for a little bit before eating so that the flavors can meld together.

If you’re feeling extra fancy and have leftover risotto lying around, you can shape those into small balls with some lentil, bread them in panko, and fry them into arancini to top off the salad like so:

lentil salad with arancini

Happy Birthday Mom!

Tomorrow is my mom’s n-th birthday, so Will and I prepared dinner for her at our new house.  I think she liked it because I had never seen her eat so much before!

Moms Bday Dinner

For dinner, we had roast chicken, broccoli rabe, potato salad, eggplant caponata, and a green salad.  I’m not sure why there are so many pieces of silverware out when all we used were chopsticks.

Moms Bday Dinner

Today was also the first time I’ve ever roasted a whole chicken. I don’t know why I was scared of doing it before. It was incredibly easy, just as Thomas Keller said it was on his video! I used some sustainable, organic, brouhahah chicken that I picked up on a whim at the nearby Sprouts. I stuffed a quarter onion, half a lemon, and some rosemary inside the cavity, trussed it, tossed it onto a pan, and roasted it in a 450F oven for 1 hour.  The resulting chicken was really flavorful and moist, even the white meat, which I usually hate!

The eggplant caponata came out pretty well too. I used this recipe. I think next time, I’ll cook the eggplants longer. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but I also put in about a quarter cup toasted pine nuts. The eggplants weren’t underdone or crunchy this time, but I bet it’d be better if they were cooked longer and even slightly more browned.