A good salad dominates the dinner conversation. When it doubles as a vegetarian main course, that’s even better.
That was the case last week with this Kale, Quinoa, Feta, Avocado, Cucumber and tomato creation that we enjoyed at my sister’s house in Iowa. As soon as we got back to Austin, I had to have it again, and made the mistake of steaming the kale for too long. It’s a whole different thing when the leaves all clump together without any of the that robust kaleness that we have learned to love. So rule No. 1: Only steam the kale leaves for a split second — just long enough for the green to become deeper.
Otherwise, this salad is a sure hit. First time around, we had discussion about whether or not to go with the quinoa once all of the other ingredients were tossed together. It seemed perfect already without tossing in a grain when a grain did not seem necessary. We took the leap of faith. Turns out, it was a good leap.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 large bunch of kale, rinsed and torn into small pieces
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- Rinse quinoa and add to a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed — about 15 minutes. Stir and set aside to cool.
- Using a steamer or a metal colander, steam kale for 45 seconds. Remove from the steam and allow to cool.
- Transfer kale to a large salad bowl and top with avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese and quinoa.
- Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salad and toss.
Long before I launched my beet jag, the concept of borscht intrigued me. Beet soup. Right up there with cabbage soup in its appeal. The ultimate in old-country fare, with five consonants all in a row to reinforce its Eastern European roots. But the deeper I dove into the beet thing, the clearer it became that this was a stone that I was going to have to overturn before all was said and done. If I can make a beet muffin, I can certainly make a beet soup. Trouble is, most borscht recipes seemed to call for beef stock, sour cream and dill which were neither on my list nor sounded like a tasty combination. So tonight, with four small beets left, and a determination to start focusing on another vegetable, I decided to go out with a bang and whip up a pot of borscht. Actually not borscht. Just beet soup. My idea basically was to combine everything that I like roasted with beets, (along with some celery which is always good in soup) add some vegetable stock and herbs, blend, call it a soup and hope for the best. And it was, truly, the best.
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 4 carrots chopped
- 4 stalks of celery
- 4 medium beets
- 1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano or 2 tsp. dried
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- Crumbled feta cheese for a garnish (optional)
Rough chop, onion, carrots, celery and beets. Heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a heavy soup pan and add vegetables. Cover and cook on medium-high heat for 25 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure vegetables don’t burn.
When vegetables are soft, add 1 Tbsp of grated ginger, along with parsley, oregano, salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and add vegetable stock to cool vegetables prior to blending. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree soup.
Add lemon and reheat for 15 minutes. Top with feta cheese.
Now there’s a word that you don’t hear much these days. If Zesty Rice Pilaf calls to mind a recipe that you might find in a Church Ladies Cookbook circa 1965, be assured that cream of mushroom soup is not called for here and nothing is going into a Jello mold. Lately, when in doubt, I zest an orange, and my recent pilaf adventure was no exception. The result, I’m happy to report, is that one of my faves shot up a notch.
- 1 cup brown rice
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- zest of one orange
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- Combine 1 cup uncooked brown rice and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until water is absorbed. (About 25 minutes)
- Transfer cooked rice to a serving bowl, and add raisins, green onions, orange zest and orange juice. Stir.
- Add almonds, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir again, garnish with an orange slice and serve.
Somewhat of a hybrid between an omlette and a quiche, and somehow a lot more festive, we are now big fans of the frittata. This morning’s brunch was inspired by our four hard-working hens in the side yard, along with a fabulous haul from the farmer’s market that included two beautiful bunches of beets with greens and the most robust bunch of kale that I’ve ever seen. I’m relatively new to the big world of kale, and yesterday learned that the Russian is the very best of the best in the entire vegetable kingdom. Whether true of not, that’s the story that I’m running with.
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 14-16 cups washed, dried and torn greens into small pieces away from the large center stems*
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 10 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
*Final word on greens: As far as I can figure, they are all good. This recipe used about 3 cups of beet greens, 10 cups of kale and the one remaining cup of arugula that we had in the fridge. I have to think that any combination of greens, spinach or fresh herbs would be equally good and worth trying.
- Heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a large, cast iron or oven-proof skillet. Add chopped onions and 2 cloves minced garlic. Saute on high heat for 3 minutes and then add mushrooms, sauteeing for an additional 2 minutes.
- Begin adding greens in batches of about 3 cups. As greens cook down allowing for more room in the skillet, continue adding, ending with parsley and oregano.
- While greens are cooking whisk together 10 eggs and cheeses.
- Once all of the greens are thoroughly wilted, spread them evenly in the pan pour in eggs and cheese mixture.
- Sprinkle Kosher salt and pepper on top and cover. Cook for 5 minutes on medium.
- Preheat broiler.
- Add skillet to the broiler to complete the cooking of the eggs. Monitor closely to guard against burning and remove when eggs are fully cooked (about 3-5 minutes).
- Allow to set for a few minutes before cutting into wedges.
The beet is to our household as the buffalo was to Native Americans: every part is put to good use.
The greens, washed and dried and ready for a Beet Green and Russian Kale Frittata for brunch.
The beets themselves: washed and peeled and ready to be rough chopped and pulverized in the food processor for Beet Green Apple Walnut Muffins.
And the stems! Chopped very small for a special Easter treat for the chickens.