I actually love kale salads. They are crunchy and filling and will last for several days in the fridge. I’ve even cracked the code and found a way to get kids to eat kale salad: make it just a little sweet with either the dressing or toppings to counteract kale’s slight bitterness.
Here’s a super delicious kale salad I made last week.
Versatile Kale Salad with Grains
1 cup dry grains (such as quinoa, couscous, farro, barley, wild rice etc.)
about 8 oz. of Lacinato (also called Dinosaur or Tuscan) kale
1/2 cup nuts, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup dried fruit, chopped
optional additional veggies (cooked or raw), such as: green beans, sugar snap peas, cucumber, radishes, sweet peppers etc.
fresh herbs if you have them, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook grains and drain off any extra water.
Wash your kale and dry it well. Pull the thick stalks off of the leaves (I find this is easiest to do with my hands). Set the stalks aside. Stack the leaves and cut across them to make kale ribbons. In a large bowl, toss the kale with the grains (it’s okay if the grains are still warm).
Chop the kale stalks into small pieces. Sauté them in olive oil until they are tender. If you want to add cooked veggies to your salad, you can cook them along with the kale stalks. Salt the cooked veggies to taste and toss them in with your salad. Add the dressing and remaining ingredients and toss to mix.
I’ve been trying to fight a nasty cold that has been getting the better of me for the past four days. I pretty much never call in sick, especially not for a class of seniors preparing for a portfolio review this Saturday. However, I did use my misery as an excuse to skip out of my office hours today and to come home and prepare myself a proper lunch. You have to feed a cold, don’t you?
Luckily, I have a fridge full of leftovers from our Mother’s Day feast of Hawaiian-style tacos with pulled pork, coconut rice, and pineapple slaw. For my lunch, I sauteéd up a mess of kale, rice, pork and pineapple chunks in coconut milk combined with glorious pork roasting juices. I squeezed on a ton of Sriracha in a futile effort to open up my nasal passages.
The kids’ lunches were cobbled together in a hurry this morning: jam and butter on bread, a fruit salad with strawberries, pineapple and apricots, and a baggie of Goldfish.
This past weekend I made a super delicious smoothie by throwing all kinds of odds and ends into it:
a couple of small roasted beets (that’s what gives this smoothie its gorgeous color!)
some frozen bananas
the last little bit of a bag of frozen blueberries lost underneath a bunch of other frozen fruit
an over-ripe nectarine
several leaves of lacinato kale
fresh squeezed orange juice
Normally, I don’t put quite so many ingredients into a smoothie, but I had lots of little things that needed to be either used immediately or tossed. I wasn’t sure if the kiddos would go for this smoothie because of the beets, but they both loved it. I think I might have to experiment with more roasted beet smoothies (not sure if I’m ready for raw beets). Yum, yum, super yum!
Spaghetti with homemade meat sauce was my absolute favorite meal growing up. What kid doesn’t love a spaghetti dinner? Last night I made spaghetti (well, fettuccini, actually) and no meat lentil sauce. If you are a vegetarian (or a flexitarian who eats just about anything) and like things to taste meaty, lentils and mushrooms are your best friends. To add lentils to your pasta sauce, cook the lentils first, drain off any excess liquid, and add the lentils to homemade or bottled marinara sauce. I like to mash the lentils up a bit with a potato masher—this thickens the sauce nicely. The kiddos are pretty good about eating lentils because lentils are, in fact, super yummy. They’re not fooled into thinking that lentils are ground lamb, but they don’t complain either. I used some of the leftover lentil sauce to make today’s pizza bagels.
For my own lunch, I made one of my favorite working from home lunches: the one egg frittata:
I started by preheating the oven to 400˚ and heating about a tablespoon of olive oil in a small cast iron pan. While the oil was getting hot, I chopped up some kale and threw it in the pan for a quick saute. Then, I chopped up some leftover noodles and added those to the pan along with a nice dollop of lentil sauce. I stirred this around, grabbed an egg out of the fridge, cracked it into a bowl, added a little milk and whisked it up with a fork. Then in went the egg, I sprinkled some cheese on top, because I couldn’t help myself, and stuck the pan in the oven. It was nice and bubbly and brown after about 10 minutes. I’m embarrassed to admit that I often eat my delicious one egg frittata right out of the pan when I’m home alone. But today I was feeling civilized and I didn’t have to race off to pick up my daughter from preschool, so I actually took the time to put the frittata on a plate. Even with the preheating and chopping and saute-ing and browning, this meal is done in about 30 minutes. And when I say done, I mean cooked and consumed. After all, I have to get back to procrastinating, I mean, working.
This is what we like to do with stuff that’s growing in the garden: put it on top of pizza. Every Friday night we make pizza; this is my night off from cooking, so to speak. If my husband and son are motivated, they make dough on Thursday night. If not, I buy a couple of packages of whole wheat pizza dough at Trader Joe’s. I just love a pizza loaded with veggies. Last Friday I picked four big artichokes and boiled them up. I sliced the hearts for the best pizza topping ever. I also threw on some kale, because kale is awesome on pizza. Toss it with a little olive oil first, so it doesn’t get too charred. Then consume pizza with an enormous glass of red wine, because it’s the right thing to do. I highly recommend Cocobon if you are looking for a good, cheap wine that tastes much more expensive than it is.
I have this theory that kids will eat just about anything if it’s formed into a little cake, pan fried in olive oil, and served with ketchup in the side. Trader Joe’s Dill & Jalapeño Tartar Sauce is also a favorite accompaniment to almost any like cake thingy. Even my four year old can handle a thin smear of TJ’s spicy tartar sauce—the stuff is that good. Whenever I make lentil cakes or salmon cakes or quinoa cakes or some such cakes, I try to make extras for lunch. For last night’s dinner I made a whole mess of lentil, rice and kale cakes. I’ve tried several different ways of making lentil cakes and have had the best luck when I use an egg or two as a binder. My vegan attempts haven’t been as successful. For today’s lunch, I cut the cakes up into little pieces because Lily, my dainty eater, likes things cut into small pieces. With the lentil cakes, I’ve also included honey whole wheat pretzel twists, sliced carrots, grapes, persimmons and a date. I really have to work on my photography to make those dates look more appealing.
This post has nothing to do with school lunch and everything to do with how glorious vegetables can be. Seriously, look as those colors. This is a pile of chard getting ready to go into a boiling pot of water and then into a lasagne. My kids aren’t crazy about chard (but, glory be, they do love kale). However, they eat almost any vegetable when it’s in lasagne.