Greens and more greens…and a recipe

I hope you had great holidays; it seems that all of us get some time off from the regular routine, no matter what we are celebrating. Personally, the whirlwind of the week before Christmas just about did me in. I had a huge amount of work due the 21st on a project related to my job, and a million other things to do. I’m glad that’s over. Now I feel peace…

Extra free time is such a gift, seriously. I have so enjoyed using my WordPress blog reader and checking out old and new blogs that I have not had time for.  I’ve had time to delve  into recipes without worrying about time requirements or rushing somewhere…

I received a new cookbook from my mom, which I love-Wild about Greens, by Nava Atlas. This is such a beautiful book. If you are a book lover, you will relate…pleasing green colors on dust jacket (color green enhances serotonin production in the brain, you know), nice feel to the pages, illustrations throughout that help me with identification of my greens, and easy to follow directions, with tons of tips. I made a few recipes already which turned out well. I think she has set me straight on kale chips…they definitely turned out better than my past attempts.

Here is a picture of her Kale Salad with Dried Fruits and Nuts in a fun container I found at TJ Maxx. This was still delicious 2 days later! In Wild About Greens, Nava gives basic directions for massaged kale salads and easy variations. I used Craisins and walnuts. Although I had made a variation of this in the past, she provided the best instructions I have seen. Click here for Nava’s quick video on making a massaged kale salad, which I got from her website VegKitchen.

kale salad in frigoverre container

 

I’ve also meant for a very long time to share the following recipe I developed. I can’t believe I found this picture of it too. Just before I started this blog in March 2012, I was building confidence with cooking quinoa and greens. I saw an email at work that our hospital was having a cooking contest for Nutrition Month. I think the top meal would be served in the cafeteria. I tinkered with this recipe a bit and submitted it, sure that I would be in the top few. It is a quick, well-rounded, gluten-free, plant-based meal. It was not meant to be, and I will admit I was disappointed that I never heard back from them. But here it is.  I like to think at least one of the folks that judged the recipes took this one home and is using it…He, he, we all have our daydreams…

 

IMG_0260

 

Easy and Colorful Spinach and Quinoa (Entrée)

Ingredients:

1 c quinoa grain

2 c water

1 vegetable bouillon cube (use cube designed for 8 oz of broth) if desired to add flavor to the water–can be omitted if desired

1 TBSP +1 tsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp minced garlic from jar (approx 4 small cloves)

¼  cup pine nuts

8 packed cups washed and ready to eat fresh spinach (approximately 10 oz in weight). You can add in more if desired because it will reduce down significantly in cooking.

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup Original flavor Craisins (or any sweetened cranberries)

 

  1. Using small sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water to boiling, then add the bouillon cube and stir to dissolve. Add the quinoa, stir, and reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer according to package directions, until water is absorbed (usually 10-15 minutes). Fluff quinoa, remove from heat, and keep covered.
  2. As the quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in large non-stick skillet on medium until hot. Add garlic and pine nuts and stir for 1 minute. Keep the skillet on medium for the remainder of cooking.
  3. Add about ½ of the spinach and stir constantly to coat and distribute the oil mixture.
  4. Once spinach is mostly wilted, move it to the outside of the pan and add the remaining spinach in the open “hole” in the center. Stir the fresh spinach in the middle for 1-2 minutes. Stir the entire pan as needed to evenly cook the spinach.
  5. Stir spinach mixture frequently and once nearly fully wilted, add salt, pepper and Craisins.
  6. Stir another 1-2 minutes to warm but do not overcook the spinach. Add more pepper to taste.
  7. Serve the spinach (with some of the toppings included) on top of a large spoonful of quinoa. Combine them if desired.

Recipe is easily adjusted to add more spinach, pine nuts, or craisins if desired.

Serves 3-4

Entire recipe takes 25-30 minutes.

 

Have you ever entered a recipe contest? Do you like to fix greens?

Have a great week!

 

 

 

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Farmers’ Market leads to another kale experiment

I’ve been writing about this for some time…I finally got to a local farmers’ market on Thursday afternoon. I had not been to this particular market before, and it was much smaller than I expected. I strolled around (it did not take long with about 8 booths!), purchased some veggies, and tried some iced coffee. I was expecting organic vegetables–based on three other markets I have visited over the years–but none were advertised as organic. Darn. No fruits to speak of either. Definitely need to check back later for strawberries, blueberries, and anything else.

Here is what I bought:

Fresh mint, kale, and Bibb lettuce.

One night I made salad with the Bibb lettuce and (store-bought) romaine hearts chopped, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, and feta cheese. It was great! So much tastier with the addition of fresh Bibb lettuce.

Another night I made a simple kale salad.

Here is my quick recipe:

Quick Kale Salad

Makes 4 small salads

1. Start with about two small kale stalks for each salad. (Total of 8 stalks for this recipe). Wash and dry the kale at least most of the way. Tear leaves off the main “stem” and tear into bite sized pieces.

2. Place kale in a large bowl and massage (with your hands) a homemade or premade dressing into the kale, making sure to cover every piece. My dressing was Marzetti brand (picture below). No need to measure-just add slowly to get the amount you like.

3. Cover and chill the salad about 30 minutes if you have time. I chilled mine about 10 minutes because I was in a rush.

3. Prior to serving, pour 3 Tbsp sliced almonds over salad. Add other optional toppings based on your dressing.

Here is the dressing I chose, thinking a stronger flavor might be best since kale is a stronger-flavored green! It is Marzetti’s Simply Dressed Ginger Sesame-I love that it’s made with extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt!

The salad was yummy, but I will admit the kale was not better or worse than kale I have purchased at Whole Foods, which is fresh with most things. What I liked the most was the greens “held up”–no soggy, icky salad for lunch at work the next day– and I had a truly healthy lunch addition.

Tomorrow, I plan to try some kale in a smoothie to use it up. I hear it’s good that way !?

Have a great, green week!

Challenge of the kale chips

Confession: As a teenager, I did not know people ate kale. Kale repulsed me a bit. I worked at a steakhouse (ironic, eh?) and we used kale only to decorate the dessert case each day. I vaguely remember one of the older customers telling me that it was good to eat, and I probably looked at him like he had three heads. It was a thick leaved, large variety, maybe only sold for decoration purposes. Once in a while we found a big old slug in it, which further decreased my opinion of it.

So, twenty or so years later, I was intrigued about all the “buzz” about kale and how nutritious it is. Then I started reading about kale chips. I figured this was something I could find a way to eat! Here is my best method after several trials (and my usual tribulations)…

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees. A fairly low temperature for the delicate leaves.
  • Start with 2-3 “stalks” of kale for one large cooking sheet. I use my jelly roll pan, ungreased. Rinse the kale well, tear into your desired chip-sized pieces, making sure to tear it off the center stalk. Discard the stalk.
  • Dry the kale fully. Feel free to use salad spinner, but then you may need quite a bit longer for it to finish air drying. Trust me, this takes a while (seemed like 1-2 hours). From now forward my plan is to wash early in day and cook in the afternoon!
  • In a bowl large enough for the kale (don’t add yet), mix 1-2 Tbsp olive oil–probably closer to the 1 Tbsp for this amount of kale, 1/4-1/2 tsp kosher salt, about 1/8 tsp black pepper, and maybe a dash of garlic powder, or paprika, or seasoned salt. I’ve seen many combinations in the recipes I have read.
  • This is the key–Now place the dry kale leaves in the bowl and mix the oil mixture and the kale with your hands until the leaves are well coated. I found that drizzling the oil over the kale leaves was very uneven and led to overly crispy chips, nearly burned in some places, when I made my first attempt a few months ago.
  • Place the kale leaves on the cookie sheet, without touching each other. Place in the middle rack of oven.
  • Turn the leaves over during cooking after 10 minutes. Cooking time is approximately 20 minutes.

This is the happily coated kale prior to being placed on the cooking sheet.

This was the kale just before cooking. Although it does shrink, I definitely had too much on the pan, which made the chips slightly less crispy.

Most importantly, it tasted quite good and I got a lot of healthful greens in as a late afternoon snack. My husband was eating them so quickly that I had to ask him to stop for a quick picture. So success was obvious there. Younger son was somewhat willing to try them. His comments were less than edifying…”Bad…Well, not that bad.” Hmmm, am I suddenly on American Idol’s premiere of a food episode?

I’ll admit, this is not the most artistic or enticing arrangement of chips. I had to rush an unappreciative child to soccer after all!

Please share if you have any tips for kale chips…any thoughts on how to store them?

P.S. I watched the episode of Dr. Oz from last Thursday. Chia seeds were not featured (see last week’s post). I think I must have seen a bowl of flax seeds in the promo ad. I don’t even know how to begin to summarize the episode (on fat burning). If you are interested, you could check out his website.