kale salad with currants and feta cheese

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When did kale get so popular? I don’t remember it ever being on the menu or the dinner table when I was growing up. Is it a cross breed of some sort? Did one farmer’s cabbage get planted with another farmer’s spinach (remind me to look that up!). I remember the first time I ate kale. It was on a road trip up the coast of California to San Francisco. We stopped at this cool little hipster lunch spot/coffee bar/henna salon (don’t laugh…..that’s what it was) outside of Santa Cruz, and Kale Salad was the special of the day. I’m not sure that it was love at first bite, but I did find it interesting enough to make my own version when we returned home. I can honestly say that after much experimentation, I am a kale fan and maybe even a kale fanatic!

This gorgeous plant is one of the healthiest foods on our planet and has only 33 calories per cup. It can be eaten in a variety of salads, soups, and casseroles. I love to roast this veggie and make kale chips. It’s said this super star vegetable will lower your cholesterol and is a cancer fighter when eaten on a regular basis. I am sharing this kale recipe with you because it is one of my favorites. I hope you will love this salad as much as I do. I’m off to do some research on this interesting plant and hopefully, answer my questions.  Stay tuned……..

Salad Ingredients
6 cups kale leaves, washed and chopped small
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1/4 cup currants
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Arrange all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour salad dressing on top of salad and massage dressing into the kale. This salad tastes better if it sits about 5 minutes before serving.

Salad Dressing Ingredients
1 lemon, squeezed
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tb agave nectar
1 tsp salt
1 large shallot, minced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well.

eat-more-kale

 

WOW4

panna cotta

Lead Panna CottaI am not a fan of anything with milk. I blame it on a bad childhood experience (enough said). So when Christi showed up to our dinner party with Panna Cotta, I already knew there was no way the beautiful dessert was going to pass my lips. I mean look at some of the ingredients – skim milk and heavy cream – that was two strikes right there. But, Christi in her persuasiveness insisted the dessert was amazingly delicious. Against my better judgment and knowing I wouldn’t like it, I took the tiniest of bites. “Yes, Christi…I WAS WRONG and YOU WERE RIGHT.” No milky taste to the Panna Cotta at all – just a light and sweet fluffiness enhanced  by a touch of honey and tangy berries.

Serve this elegant dessert as the final course to complement our rustic Italian holiday menu. It can be made in advance so you can actually enjoy an evening NOT spent entirely in the kitchen.

Ingredients

1/3 cup skim milk
1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
honey
fresh raspberries and blueberries

Panna Cotta 2

Directions
Pour milk into a small bowl and stir in the gelatin powder. Set aside.

In a saucepan, stir together the heavy cream and sugar, and place over medium heat. Bring cream and sugar to a boil, stirring slightly. Pour the gelatin and milk mixture into the cream, stirring thoroughly until completely dissolved. Cook for one minute or so, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into 5 or 6 individual ramekin dishes.

Cool the ramekins, uncovered, at room temperature. When completely cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours but, ideally, overnight before serving.

Just before serving, drizzle honey in a cross-pattern and top with fresh berries.

*Double the recipe to make 10-12 ramekins

farm-to-table heirloom tomato marinara sauce

Lead Heirloom TomatoEverything about this sauce is good for your body– farm fresh Heirloom tomatoes (cancer fighting, low in calories), kale (superfood packed with enough nutrients to be one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet), parsley (often overlooked as just a garnish, it is a powerhouse of nutrients) and fennel (at its peak from fall to early spring; it is crunchy and sweet with an abundance of phytonutrients).

And everything about this sauce is good for your taste buds. I enjoy wandering through my local farm stand [South Coast Farms] hoping the vivid colors and freshness of the fruits and veggies will light up the think tank in my head. On this particular day, the Heirloom tomatoes filled every corner of a wooden table with hues of reds and yellows and greens. I loaded up my wicker farm stand basket with tomatoes and other veggies and headed home envisioning a bubbling marinara on the stove.

Heirloom Farm Collage

Trust me, I am not one to skimp on taste for health. I try to eat healthy but love food and the creativity of new flavors. The first time I made this marinara, I also made Ina Garten’s Rosemary Polenta to go alongside. No calories were saved (hello butter) but together the flavors came together for a beautiful meal.

Next week, Cashmere Apron is going to hit on some simple entertaining ideas for the hustle-bustle of the holiday season. Look for this sauce to make a re-appearance in a rustic holiday menu for 10.

Heirloom Tomato On Its Own

Ingredients
7 large organic Heirloom tomatoes
4 Tb olive oil, divided
1/2 Tb Kosher salt
Cracked fresh pepper
1/4 cup fennel, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium leek, diced
1/2 cup diced organic parsley
1/2 cup diced organic kale
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 large shallot, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1-1/2 tsp Cumin
1 stick unsalted butter
3 Tb Pale Dry Sherry
2, 15 ounce cans organic tomato sauce
1, 6 ounce can tomato paste

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Roughly chop the Heirloom tomatoes and fit onto baking tray (it’s fine to squeeze them in). Drizzle the tomatoes with 2 Tb olive oil and the 1/2 Tb Kosher salt. Sprinkle lightly with freshly cracked pepper. Put baking sheet in oven and roast tomatoes for 30 to 35 minutes.

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While tomatoes are roasting, chop, mince and dice the remaining ingredients so they are ready to go when the tomatoes come out of the oven.

Once tomatoes have roasted for approximately 35 minutes, remove from oven and let sit. Melt butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat with the remaining 2 Tb of olive oil. Once butter is melted add sherry and stir lightly. Add fennel, carrot, leeks, shallot, garlic, jalapeño and cumin and sauté for approximately 5 minutes. Add kale, parsley and basil and sauté for 2 more minutes until fully blended.

To the Dutch oven add the roasted tomatoes along with the natural tomato liquid that collects beneath the tomatoes when they are in the oven. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste to the mixture and stir all of the ingredients together thoroughly.

With an immersion blender on medium speed, gradually blend the roasted Heirloom tomatoes in the Dutch oven. Blend the Heirloom tomatoes until the sauce is a smoother texture. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for at least 90 minutes.

I have always made this sauce a day in advance which seems to let the flavors meld together even better. This recipe makes enough for eight to ten people+ left-overs. Serve separately as a soup, mix in with quinoa, enjoy over pasta, spread over a grilled steak, use as a pizza sauce…the options are infinite!