Friday, April 18, 2014

Asian Kale Salad with Peanut Dressing

Ohh boy. This is a good one.

I'm not usually a fan of kale salad (I know, very surprising considering the fact that I'm one of those health-conscious kale-worshiping hippies). I do absolutely love it cooked, but it's always a bit too rubbery and bitter if I try to tear it up and toss it in a salad. Just no bueno. But I have a solution!

Smother it in peanut sauce, of course.

Now this is a kale salad I could get behind. I used lacinato (sometimes called dinosaur) kale because I find the flat leaves easier to chop and more tender than curly ones. When it's finely shredded and mixed with a slew of other veggies, I couldn't get enough of the raw kale. The slight bitterness actually compliments the dressing and the other veggies in the salad, so I wasn't left wishing it was iceberg instead.

I made the whole batch and kept the veggie mix separate from the dressing in my fridge for a few days - perfect to make ahead and have on hand for those times when you know you should be eating vegetables but something involving peanut sauce sounds much better. Now you get the best of both worlds!

I would even argue that this is a kale salad my mom would love. And she dislikes kale salads more than me.

It's that good.

Asian Kale Salad with Peanut Dressing

makes 4 servings

  • 2 cups stemmed and very thinly sliced kale
  • 2 cups cored and very thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • Fresh cilantro, to garnish

  1. Toss the kale, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and scallions in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and raw sugar in a small bowl. 
  3. Store the salad and dressing separately or toss together if serving immediately. Garnish with cilantro.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Savory Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

Simplicity is key.

This phrase brought me and my friends a lot of debate last night. I know, a group of friends sitting around discussing the ideal simplicity of food (and watching youtube videos of a fifteen year old chefthe reasoning and science behind awesome recipes, and everyone's dream kitchen) isn't what you'd call a "normal" college weekend night.

But that's why I love my school...and friends. That and the fact that we did, in the end, decide that simplicity is always key when it comes to vegetables. Buy them fresh, local, and gorgeous, spruce them up a little bit, and appreciate their deliciousness. I stand to reason that this method works with just about any food as well.

Last week at the farmer's market, I picked up some real beauties. Russian kale - a flat leaf, lavender stemmed variety, and oyster mushrooms - tender, juicy, and mild clusters. You see, buying things straight from the farmers' hands gives me an incredible appreciation for everything I eat, making it that much easier to enjoy a minimalist approach to food. Not to mention, it's way easier and comes at a much higher success rate than fussing around with tons of ingredients and techniques (although that can be pretty fun sometimes).

Alright. I'm pretty sure you understand my food philosophy by now, so let's get on with the simplest, tastiest, most appreciation-prompting mushroom and kale recipe you'll ever need. 

Savory Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

Serves 2

  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil or avocado oil
  • 3 heaping cups roughly chopped oyster mushrooms (criminis, shiitakes, or mixed wild mushrooms will work in a pinch)
  • 1 small bunch Russian kale (or, you know, any kale), roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • parsley and grated parmesan, for garnish
  1. Heat half the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add half the mushrooms and let sit for a minute or two, until seared and golden brown on the side facing down. Toss and continue sauteeing until cooked through (just another 2-3 minutes)
  2. Set the first batch of mushrooms aside and repeat with the remaining mushrooms. Sauteeing them in batches allows for a good, caramelized sear on them, rather than a bunch of limp, watery mushrooms.
  3. When the second batch of mushrooms is done, add the fresh thyme, kale, and first batch of mushrooms. Saute for about 3 minutes, until the kale is just wilted.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish with parsley and parmesan.