Winter Kale Salad with a Maple Vinaigrette

A hearty kale salad with a 4-ingredient maple vinaigrette. This salad is simple, yet has many flavors and textures that will keep you satisfied until you’re ready to devour that Valentine’s Day candy. And why not eat that whole box? You just ate a salad!

20150130-204131-74491501.jpgI first discovered a version of this salad on Cookie and Kate, who adapted it from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I was looking for an easy, non-oven-using vegetable recipe to serve at my Mom’s Thanksgiving. She makes so many delicious dishes that I knew I couldn’t take up any oven space. I also needed to make most of it hours before so I wouldn’t get in the way and I would be free to help her. Kale seemed like a good choice, since it is such a hearty green, doesn’t wilt like lettuce or baby spinach and can be prepared hours before eating. The only potential issue with kale is that I knew I was taking a huge risk serving kale at my family’s Thanksgiving. I have a reputation of bringing food that isn’t traditional enough on Thanksgiving. A few years ago I brought my Easy Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup and most of my family revolted against it. Some refused to even try it. They reacted to it as if I was I was asking: “would like to try this gum I scraped off the bottom of my shoe?” So you can imagine, I didn’t have high hopes for most of my family to even try the kale salad. But to my surprise, everyone LOVED it.  They said the maple vinaigrette was their favorite part! I was hoping for leftovers, but there were none left! What a compliment.

Winter Kale Salad with a maple vinaigrette

That’s right. You heard it. On Thanksgiving, where we have 3 types of stuffings, 20lbs of turkey, roasted crispy potatoes and about 10 other dishes, this very kale salad was eaten up. If that doesn’t convince you to make this, I don’t know what will.

dressing and apples2I’ve adapted this recipe slightly since Thanksgiving. Since it has been SO COLD in Boston (and we’re buried under 40 inches of snow, no biggie), I’ve taken to wilting the kale first. It warms it, and I feel like it’s much more fitting for winter now. You can make this raw or wilted. Whatever tickles your fancy.

before after kale

Left: Before wilting. Right: After wilting

Just in case you are not sold yet, let me briefly elaborate on why this salad is so great. The maple syrup in the vinaigrette brings a little sweetness that tempers the bitterness of the crunchy radishes and the toughness of the kale. The granny smith apple is tart and juicy while the goat cheese adds some creamy decadence. Finally the salad is finished off with toasted walnuts for a nutty crunch and some protein. Bam. All the flavors you would ever want in a salad.

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Kale chips are overrated. Make a kale salad.

 

Winter Kale SaladRecipe: Winter Kale Salad with a Maple Vinaigrette

 Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

Kale Salad

  • 1 Bunch of Kale
  • 4-6 radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 Granny smith apple, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • Lots of goat cheese (2-3oz)

Maple Vinaigrette

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

1. Toast the walnuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Allow the walnuts to cool before adding to the salad. Walnuts can be toasted up to a week before. Store toasted, cooled walnuts in an airtight container.

2. Wilt the Kale: Rip off the leaves from the ribs. Tear the leaves into bite size pieces (or however large you like them) and rinse well with water. With the kale leaves still wet from the water, add them to a large pot with a lid. Wilt the kale leaves with a pinch of salt on medium heat. Stir the kale about every 1-2 minutes to wilt all the leaves evenly and leaving the top on the pot when not stirring. I usually wilt the kale for about 3-4 minutes or until kale has become a bright green color and has become fragrant (See picture in the post). Time and amount of water will depend on how much kale you are wilting and how big the pot is.  The small amount of kale I have in the picture only took 1 minute to wilt (2 handfuls of kale leaves) and no extra water except what was on the kale to rinse. You may need to add a little more water if it dries up before your kale is wilted.  Be careful not to add too much water or cook it too long, or your kale will be super chewy.  After kale is wilted, drain any extra water and squeeze the kale to remove excess water before adding kale to a large bowl and set aside.*

3. Make the dressing: In a small bowl add olive oil, maple syrup, red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. Whisk with a fork until well combined.

4. Put it all together: Dress the salad and let the leaves soak up the dressing about 10-15 minutes before serving. Top with radishes, apples goat cheese and walnuts.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, if desired.

*Another way I have also cooked the kale for this salad is to saute with a little bit oil (olive or vegetable) in a non-stick skillet for a few minutes until it has softened a bit (3-4 minutes).  The original recipe serves the kale salad raw. I have made this raw and it is delicious! Head over to Cookie and Kate to get good tips on how to prep raw kale.

Recipe sources: Maple Vinaigrette deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

Kale salad adapted from Cookie and Kate

Looking for some more great vegetarian recipes?

Breakfast Grilled Cheese

Egg Apple and cheese sandwichMy taller half and I eat this sandwich at least once a week.

Spanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell Pepper

Spanish TortillaA delicious egg and potato dish.  A spin on the traditional Spanish Tortilla.

Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke dip

Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke dipMy favorite dip.  Perfect for watching movies and trashy tv shoes when you’re snowed in.  It’s made with vegetables and Greek yogurt – so it’s totally good for you.

Curried Apple Tuna Salad

How about an apple and some tuna for lunch?

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How about we put them together.  On a sandwich. With some spice. Yum!

I’m constantly on the look out for new lunch recipes.  I ALWAYS bring my lunch to work because I hate buying lunch. It’s expensive, usually less healthy and I’m super indecisive, so it takes me forever to decide where to buy lunch.  But mostly, I am cheap and buying lunch is not.   In the past year, I have bought lunch at work 3 times.  THREE times.   Yeah, I’m wicked frugal.  So this is a great salad/sandwich to add to your lunch rotation!

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What else is so great about this Curried apple tuna salad?  It is delicious and healthy and perfect for using up some of those apples you still have.  Also, it is so full of flavor, you won’t realize it is healthy.  Really. And this is no wussy salad – it is FULL of protein. Tuna and Greek yogurt pack a pretty good protein punch that will make sure your tummy stays full at least until your 3pm chocolate break.  Wait, you don’t have a 3pm chocolate break?  What?!  Well, you should. Bonus: it is SUPER easy to whip up!  1 step.  There is only 1 step to make this salad.

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What is in this salad?

1. Tuna (I use chunk light, packed in water)

2. Plain Greek yogurt

3. Apple

4. Dijon mustard

5. Curry powder

6. Crunchy veggie of your choice

This is another recipe for you MAYO HATERS>>> There is NO mayo in this tuna salad!

20131028-205908.jpgThe warm curry flavor pairs perfectly with the crunchy, sweet apple.

20131028-205916.jpgAnd it all goes so well to make a creamy, crunchy, warmly spicy and slightly sweet tuna salad

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Mmmm.  Delicious in a Dash.  Seriously fast and scrumptious!

Recipe: Curried Apple Tuna Salad 20131028-205936.jpg

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 5oz canned tuna, drained (I like chunk-light tuna packed in water)
  • 1/2 of a medium sized apple, chopped (I like crunchy, slightly tart apples)
  • 3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder (depending on your taste)
  • 1/2 cup of your veggie of choice, chopped (I really like celery because it adds a nice crunch.  I used cucumber because that is what I had in the house – but I recommend celery)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, add all ingredients and stir until combined.

Serve on your favorite bread, lined with spinach leaves or lettuce or just eat it right from the bowl!

Enjoy!

Spicy Avocado, Pepper and Egg Salad

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Oh boy. I am super excited to share this recipe with you guys! I should probably change the name of my blog to “Eggs and Sweets” because of the high percentage of egg recipes on here. But I promise you, if you like egg salad and guacamole, this will be the best egg salad you ever had.

20130812-195508.jpgWhat is the secret to this spicy, creamy and crunchy egg salad? Avocado and pickled jalapeños! Oh yeah, and the “crunchy” part comes from the red bell pepper

The inspiration for this recipe came from the way I make guacamole- I always make mine with pickled jalapeños! One day, I didn’t have fresh jalapeños or lime juice in the house, and I had a hankering for guac.  Well, all I had was pickled jalapeños in the fridge, so I added some chopped pickled jalapeños + some of the juice and BAM. it was delicious! The juice that the jalapeños are packed in adds some acidity to the mix so it’s a semi-substitute for the lime juice.

20130812-195522.jpgThis salad is a unique twist on an old favorite. It only needs 6 ingredients and it is very versatile

  1. avocado
  2. pickled jalapenos
  3. onion
  4. red bell pepper
  5. hard boiled eggs
  6. plain Greek yogurt

What is this versatility I speak of? You can switch out the red bell pepper for your veggie of choice: cucumbers, tomatoes, celery – or any raw veggie you like that will add crunch.

 Another great thing about this egg salad is it has NO MAYO!  I know there are some MAYO haters out there, so THIS IS YOUR SALAD!

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You can easily make this salad before going to work and even dress it up for a semi-fancy brunch by serving it in a bell pepper half (Oh so fancy!)

How do you make this spicy avocado, pepper and egg salad in a DASH?

The first thing I like to do is to make the avocado “dressing”.  In a medium sized bowl, I smash the flesh of the avocado with a fork.  I don’t really make it too smooth, I like mine a little chunky.   **Do you need to know how to pit and peel an avocado? Check out the simple step by step process at Simply Recipes

Next I add a little Greek yogurt and the pickled jalapeños and juice and stir that in.  Then stir in the onion and red bell pepper. Then I smash up the hard boiled eggs in the center of the bowl and then smash it all together.

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Tada! 

Your delicious breakfast, brunch, lunch or anytime salad is done!

20130812-195638.jpgEat it with crackers, with tortilla chips, with veggies or even the old fashioned way – between 2 slices of bread!  Just eat it!

20130812-195704.jpgThe salad is creamy from the avocado and crunchy from the bell pepper and “oh a little bit spicy” from the jalapeños.  Yum!

Recipe: Spicy Avocado,Pepper and Egg Salad

20130812-195630.jpgMakes 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1/4 cup of pickled jalapeno, chopped + 1 tsp of the pickled juice
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped small (about 1/3-1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of onion, diced (I used yellow, but you can use red or omit if you don’t like raw onions)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt – any % fat (optional – adds creaminess)*
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*If your avocados are not at the optimal creamy state, you may want to add a little plain Greek yogurt.   If your avocados are nice and creamy and ripe, you could probably leave this out.

Instructions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients and smash with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Serve and enjoy immediately with crackers, between two slices of bread, on a salad, or use the bell pepper as a delicious vegetable bowl (oh so fancy!)

This egg salad is best eaten the day it is made. After being stored, the salad will look a little less pretty because the avocado will brown from being exposed to air.   Despite it’s color change, it will still taste good after being stored in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days. (but I would only serve this salad to others the day it is made)

Recipe source: deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

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Vegetarian Orzo Parsley Salad

20130507-143829.jpgMay is National Salad Month! That’s right, salad gets a whole month to itself to celebrate how awesome it is.  Mother’s Day is also coming up and it’s about time I start sharing stories about the inspiration for all my culinary adventures and the person who taught me how to cook: my mom. Well, I’m kicking off National Salad Month with a non-traditional salad: Vegetarian Orzo Parsley Salad.  Although this recipe is not one that my mom has shared with me, my mom loves fresh parsley, so I think she would like this salad too. Parsley is a significant part of this dish, and whenever I smell fresh parsley, it reminds me of times in the kitchen with mom, making pasta sauce for Sunday “dinner”.  Being Italian, this dinner would take place at 2pm.  If you’re not Italian, this time probably sounds strange.  If you are Italian, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Of COURSE you eat dinner at 2pm on Sundays. Dinner also consisted of pasta and 5ish other courses. It was quite an event.  I miss it.  Being the little piglet that I was growing up, I LOVED Sundays.

20130507-144025.jpgOk.  Back to the superstar: Parsley.  One of my jobs as a little kitchen helper was to pluck the leaves off the parsley bunch so my mom could put it in the chopper to add to the red sauce (called gravy in our family).  My mom always liked to put extra parsley on her pasta.  She also adds fresh parsley to meatballs, chicken soup, stuffing for peppers and probably a ton of other things that I never realized.  So, Happy Mother’s Day Mom!  Here’s another recipe you can load up with parsley!

20130507-144127.jpgThis salad screams Spring to me.  Fresh parsley gives the salad a bright taste, that is crisp and refreshing.  It makes a great side dish to grilled burgers, steak or chicken.  It is also good on its own, and you can add some cannellini beans to it to spike it with a little protein if you want it as a main meal. What is so great about this salad??   It’s versatility.  This salad is delicious hot OR cold.  Another bonus: The Baby Bella mushrooms used in this dish are so flavorful and meaty, you will hardly notice there is no meat in this salad. Also, just like all of my recipes, this dish is easy to make and takes the amount of time it takes to boil pasta.  So what are you waiting for?!! Make some orzo salad!

20130507-143846.jpgThose are some good lookin’ mushrooms.  I know a lot of people don’t like mushrooms, but really, I beg you to try baby bella mushrooms.  Baby bella mushrooms, also known as cimini, are just young portobella mushrooms. They have a subtle taste and a meaty texture.  Baby bella mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, B vitamins and potassium.

Alright, enough with the nutritional lecture.  Let’s make some Orzo Salad!

Dice up some onion and garlic and place in a large pan on medium heat and saute with some olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to your onions/garlic.

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Slice up the mushrooms and add them to the sizzling onions and garlic in the pan.  Cook mushrooms with onions and garlic for about 7-10 minutes.  Onions should be soft and translucent.

20130507-143900.jpgMake sure you use a large enough pan.  Your mushrooms need space! Don’t crowd the mushrooms.  If you like a little kick to your salad, put in a touch of crushed red pepper flakes to the mushrooms.   While your mushrooms are cooking down, cook your orzo pasta in salty water.  I had some extra broccoli in the house, so I added this to just warm up in the pan with the mushrooms for about 2-3 minutes. ***I LOVE my cast iron pan.  I cook almost EVERYTHING in this pan and it only cost me about $20 at a big box store (Kmart/target/walmart)  It is a an essential cooking tool in my kitchen.

20130507-144036.jpgNext, prep that parsley! I usually buy flat leaf parsley, but you can use curly parsley if you like. Grab a really good handful of the washed leaves and give them a good rough chop, and set aside. The dish’s superstar is now ready! When the orzo is cooked al dente, (or how you like your pasta – just don’t make it mushy) drain the pasta, and save about 1/4 cup of the cooking water. DO NOT RINSE the orzo.  You want the starch to stay on the pasta.  Then place orzo in the pan with the cooking mushrooms and toss together.  You could also instead add the veggies to the orzo pot, if doing this or if you are not tossing the orzo directly with the veggies, drizzle a little olive oil over the orzo to prevent the pasta from sticking together.

20130507-143942.jpgAfter the pasta and veggies are well mixed, toss in all the delicious parsley and mix some more.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  If your salad is a little dry, you can add a little of the reserved pasta cooking water.

I love eating my orzo salad this way.  The best thing about orzo, is that it’s shape, lends itself to staying moist and not needing a sauce, but if you’re a person who can’t eat a salad without a dressing on top – you can drizzle a little garlic oil and a splash of lemon juice on top.  See below for my super easy garlic oil recipe!

Now DIG IN and ENJOY!

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Mmmm look at that veggie to pasta ratio!  Lots of veggies in there!

20130507-144050.jpgSo easy, so fast, so fresh!  A perfect spring dish!

Recipe: Vegetarian Orzo Parsley Salad  20130507-144140.jpg

Servings: 2

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil (this is an estimate, enough to just coat your pan)
  • ¼ cup of onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 baby bella (crimini) mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ cup of broccoli, chopped (optional – you can substitute in almost any vegetable here – tomato, roasted asparagus, red bell pepper)
  • ½ cup of uncooked orzo, cook in salty water per instructions on box
  • ½ bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped (about a large handful)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pot, boil salty water for orzo*
  2. Coat a large pan (I use a cast iron pan) with olive oil and warm on medium heat.  As the pan is still warming, add onions and garlic.  Cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sliced mushrooms to the same pan, and cook for about 7 minutes, until onions are translucent and mushrooms are soft.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to onions/garlic and mushrooms as they are cooking
  4. Add the broccoli and cook just until warm, about 2 minutes.  You want your broccoli to add some crunch
  5. While your veggies are cooking, add orzo to boiling, salty water (or chicken stock) and cook per instructions on your pasta box (about 10 minutes)
  6. Drain orzo and reserve ~ 1/4 cup of cooking water – DO NOT rinse your pasta, you will lose the moistness,
  7. Immediately toss the orzo and veggies together –if needed, add a little pasta water to moisten it up.  Add in parsley and mix until combined. **
  8. Add some salt and pepper to taste

ENJOY!

* I stress the salty water here because you are not putting a sauce on the orzo, thus, the only time you have to flavor the pasta at all is during the cooking process in the water.  You can also cook your orzo in chicken stock.  That will give the pasta a very good flavor.

** If not tossing immediately with the veggies, drizzle a little olive oil on the orzo after draining and stir to prevent orzo from clumping.  You can also just add a little pasta water to moisten up.

Recipe Source: Deliciousinadash.com

Bonus Recipe!

Easy Quick Garlic Oil

Adapted from Ina Garten

  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  1. In a small saucepan, slowly warm up the oil to a simmer with the garlic cloves
  2. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5-10 minutes – until garlic is lightly browned – careful, so it does not burn
  3. Remove from heat and let cool
  4. Remove garlic and save for later (To spread on bread)
  5. Drizzle oil over anything!

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