This Fig Prosciutto Pizza is a far cry from those sticky Newtons you grew up on. Sweet jammy fig butter, with crispy and salty Prosciutto, creamy rich Cambozola and fresh luscious figs let this pizza span a meal from appetizer to dessert, while achieving rock star status along the way. If you are like me, your first exposure to figs was the famous Fig Newton. Can’t say I was really a fan. It was kind of gummy and way too seedy for a kid. But yet, against all odds, the Newton became a fan favorite. Must be all that sugar. What really surprises me though is that Newtons are almost always the end of the line for the poor fig. After childhood, we fickle feasters don’t look back and all too often have never seen a fresh fig, much less tasted one. I ran across them in the garden when staying with friends in Italy some thirty years ago. My hostess was not a fan of the texture, and I get that, especially if you pull it from the tree and chomp into it, apple-style. But the flavor!! Oh my. It is a perfect foil for a creamy rich blue cheese and some salty Prosciutto. Hmmm…let me think what else? Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. Pizza dough? Now we’re cooking with gas!!!
Fresh figs have a fairly short season – found both in the spring and the fall, or if you are in Cali maybe a bit longer. They date back to 9000+ BC and were cultivated more than 1000 years before wheat or rye. Their existence is well documented from Aristotle to the art world. I mean, where would we be without fig leaves? Spanish missionaries brought them to the US in the late 1700s, where the Mission variety thrived in the California sunshine. To this day, Black Mission figs are among the most popular and that is what I used here.
Dried figs used to be a bit tough and required soaking (brandy wouldn’t be so bad) to use. But today there are unsulfured, wonderful, juicy varieties available in resealable pouches. Valley Fig offers organic dried Mission figs and Made in Nature offers dried Smyrna figs that are velvety and have “hints of honey, jam and butterscotch.” If you can’t find fresh figs, try chopping some of these in place of the fresh. As Made in Nature’s package says, “… congrats, nature. You really nailed it on this one.” They’re “figgin awesome.”
For the cheese, I used Cambozola, but there is a wide range of blues from which to choose, especially Stilton or Roquefort. I like the creaminess and richness of Cambozola as an offset to the salty meat and juicy fruit. This cow’s milk cheese, made in Germany, is a triple crème-ripened blue cheese and you might liken it to a cross between a blue and a brie. You would not be all wrong. While the name appears to be a portmanteau of Camembert and Gorgonzola given its similarity to the rich creaminess of Camembert and the blue bite of Gorgonzola, the name is also a nod to its terroir. It is made in Kempten (in Bavaria), whose Roman name is Cambodunum.
Fig Prosciutto Pizza
This is really another non-recipe recipe, which I know y’all love. Proportions are not essential when topping pizzas. Actually, even choosing the ingredients is not critically important. Just remember to aim for a balance of sweet, salty, fat and acid and a mix of textures, and if you dare, a contrast in temperatures. As written below, the jam provides sweetness; the cheese and meat are salty; the cheese adds creamy fat and richness; the vinegar add acid and serves as a light (just a drizzle) dressing for the arugula. The textures range from creamy to crispy, and the temperature is hot pizza with cold salad. Done and Done!
Let me know how it goes, and – as always – I love to read your comments on the website and see your photos on Instagram.
This Fig Prosciutto Pizza is a far cry from those gummy Newtons you grew up on. Sweet jammy fig butter, with crispy and salty Prosciutto, creamy rich Cambozola and fresh luscious figs let this pizza span a meal from appetizer to dessert.
1-pound fresh pizza dough (see notes)
11-ounce jar of Fig Butter (or fig jam) – may have leftovers
Favorite oil for drizzling on crust (I wouldn’t be mad if you used truffle oil once it comes out of the oven, but brush the crust with something less delicate before baking. Lemon oil is nice)
8 fresh figs, about 1/3 pound, sliced
1/2 pound Cambozola cheese, or other creamy blue like Gorgonzola
Flaky sea salt to finish – like my beloved Maldon’s
Preheat oven and pizza stone to 425oF. Check pizza dough directions to confirm this is best for your dough.
Lightly flour a work surface and stretch or roll the pizza dough into a 12” diameter round. If you are using the roll-out dough that comes in a popping-fresh canister, follow those directions and roll into a rectangle, but plan on using more topping ingredients. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled pan.
Spread the fig butter to create a thin layer, leaving a 1/2 “ border of dough around the outside. (See notes.) Brush the exposed outer ring of dough with a favorite oil.
Set the pan on the pizza stone and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is set.
Carefully remove from oven, adding the figs, some dollops of Cambozola and the Prosciutto. I like to take a half-slice of Prosciutto and twirl into a rosette, but some prefer to chop it and distribute the flavor more uniformly. Maybe you should be making two pizzas?
Return to oven and bake for 10 more minutes or until the crust is golden and the Prosciutto starts to crisp. The cheese should be melty.
Remove from oven and top with the arugula. Drizzle with a balsamic reduction (or Crema di Balsamico) and sprinkle with a flaky finishing salt.
Dessert Pizza or Appetizer? Actually, I have served it both ways. Spread the fig butter according to taste and purpose. If you use the whole jar (don’t judge) it will be pretty sweet. But it will also be nice and jammy. Depending on your taste, you might want to load up a bit more on the salty items like the cheese and Prosciutto.
Trader Joe’s makes a great fresh pizza dough, stashed in the cheese and prepared food refrigerator case. You can find it made with white flour, whole wheat and even gluten-free.
Stonewall Kitchen makes a lovely Fig & Walnut Butter and Valley Fig offers three flavors of fig spread. For this test, I used the Trader Joe’s Fig Butter.
This late summer quick and easy pasta dish needs no introduction – corn, tomatoes, and summer squash? Why, hello friends! Welcome!! In a word – YUM! I found myself with a zucchini/tomato bounty post farmer’s market and wanted to whip up something that screams, “I see you Indian summer and I beg you to stay.”
There’s always so much to do this time of year, so why waste time getting dinner on the table? I say that it takes 25 minutes in the notes below, but that is really for the non-multi-tasker. If you get that water boiling first, start your sauté, drop the pasta, and add the veggies to the tomatoes, all while sipping a nice glass of vino, you will be done in far less time. Or at least you won’t notice. This dish is inspired by those that want no fuss, yet full flavor. Skillet-burst tomato & corn pasta has got your back.
Was your sweet corn as amazing as mine this summer? Dutch Love, Silver Queen, Peaches & Cream! Yes, please!! I am partial to the white corn, but the key to me is tiny kernels, sweet enough and oh-so-tender that you can eat it raw.
But corn shopping can get competitive where I come from. It might not be at the market by 8:15, because they are still picking, and by 9:15 you might be disappointed. A total shut out. Thanks to Ham Family Farm and my really pointy elbows, I was corn-endowed all season. Do you remember Everything But the Farmer Farmer’s Market Salad? Same joint. That is a salad that is also epic this time of year. And as long as you are buying tomatoes, buy extra and put up a batch of oven-dried tomatoes. You will thank me all winter.
Skillet-Burst Tomato & Corn Pasta
To get started, drop the cherry and grape tomatoes – I love heirlooms for their gorgeous hues – into a sauté pan with garlic. Whirl the pan to coat the tomatoes with the EVOO and sizzle til they start to char and burst. Add the summer squash and cook until caramelized.
Toss in some corn, arugula, and seasonings, then add the al dente-cooked pasta and Parmesan. I am using rigatoni here, but any short-cut shape will do. Divide among bowls, top with hand-torn fresh Mozzarella and fresh basil. As always, check the seasoning. I like to use a finishing salt like Maldon, and of course some fresh pepper or hot pepper flakes.
This late summer quick and easy skillet-burst tomato & corn pasta dish needs no introduction. Corn? Tomatoes? Summer squash? Why, hello friends! Welcome!! This dish highlights the bounty of late summer produce. Tumble onto a bed of pasta, shred some fresh mozzarella, garnish with basil, and you have yourself a feast.
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds summer squash, about 8 extra small, trimmed and sliced (if using larger squash, cut into half-moons)
1-pound rigatoni, or another short-cut pasta
3 Tablespoons butter
2 ears of fresh corn, cut from the cob
1 cup thinly sliced arugula
Red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 balls fresh Mozzarella
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced basil (chiffonade)
Finish with Maldon sea salt or other flaky finishing salt
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add garlic, tomatoes and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat the tomatoes, smashing garlic further. After 6 minutes, add the summer squash, stirring occasionally. Cook for an additional 5 or 6 minutes until the summer squash start to brown and caramelize.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the package instructions, about 12 minutes.
Turn the heat down to low on the sauté pan, and stir in butter, corn, arugula and season with red pepper flakes. Cook for three minutes, scrapping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove the thyme.
Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of pasta water. Add the pasta to the vegetable mixture and add the Parmesan. Stir to combine, adding pasta water to thin, if desired.
Divide among six bowls and top each with 1/3 of a ball of fresh Mozzarella, torn by hand.
Garnish with basil and finish with flaky sea salt, adding more red pepper flakes if desired.
Use a bit of the pasta water, if you prefer a more saucy pasta and feel free to hit it with more butter. What could be bad?
Not going to lie – I wouldn’t be mad if you threw a Tablespoon or two of pesto on this. I did however create this combo of ingredients to let stellar tomatoes, sweetest corn and gorgeous squash be the rock stars. The more things you add, the less they are the standouts. This pasta mimics a fresh ear of corn slathered with butter. You be the master of your destiny!
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:15 minutes
Keywords: Tomato, Corn, Pasta
To source the Maldon salt and see more of my must-have kitchen tools, visit my shop. (affiliate links)
Finally! Ermahgerd!!!! Did you think that winter would ever end?? I for one did not. Today in NYC it was 90 and stickeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! But that means not only are the farmers’ markets in full spring swing, they are pushing out the bounty that Mother Earth shares this time of year. Garlic scapes! Remember them? I am scooping them up to dose plain ole pesto with these fresh shoots and flowering stems of the garlic bulb, while also jam-packing the processor with not only basil, but also arugula and parsley. Arugula and Garlic Scape Pesto! Oh yeah!!
Those growing garlic will be familiar with this curlicue that shoots up from the buried bulb. I’m sending out this scape pesto recipe now because my readers are scattered across the globe, and it is found from May through July, depending on where you are. It usually starts shooting up about a month after the bulb’s first leaves, and many will cut it back and compost to stop diverting energy so the bulb itself can fatten up. Resist! Just say no! Cut back, but don’t compost. There are many things you can do with these stems, from chopping and adding to a potato salad, to making sauces like this scape pesto, to making those cute bundles below. They can be eaten raw, blanched, roasted or grilled. For a deep dive on all things you can do with these divine shoots, check out (and follow) Suzie Durigon at Just Crumbs. She has a wonderful post on everything you always wanted to know about scapes.
Try to find a farmer that will sell you a big bag. They last a month or so in a plastic bag in the fridge, and buying them by the piece can get pricey. I have seen them for a quarter each, but I shop at the end of the day and dazzle farmers with my true appreciation for this shoot. I can usually make off with a 2-gallon ziplock filled for just $10. As long as you are successful in your hunt, why don’t you whip up a batch of Roasted Garlic Scapes? You won’t be sorry. They have that I-want-more-ish quality like salted edamame, with a big dose of robust flavor. Plus they are easy-peasy and are a bit of a show stopper.
Arugula & Scape Pesto
The ingredients, ratios and directions are detailed below, but rest easy that this is a 5 minute processor recipe. The scapes, arugula, parsley, and basil give it a jewel-like green color and the Parmesan and sunflower seeds (so much cheaper and flavorful than pine nuts) give it some body. I am serving it here atop a fresh gemelli (did you know that is Italian for twins, as the pasta is doubled over and twisted together?) and oven-dried tomatoes. The tomatoes are from the freezer and were dried at the end of last season when they were at their peak. I linked the recipe below so you can keep it in mind for later this year. You could also add some of the other spring veggies, like peas or asparagus tossed in at the end of the pasta’s cooking, or even some sauteed morels or other spring mushrooms. This flavorful pesto is not limited to pasta: drizzle it on a Caprese, marinate vegetables for the grill, or spoon it on a grilled steak or chicken breast. It’s so universal you can also slather it on a panini.
Swapping out more mature bulb garlic with just-in-season garlic shoots, while supplementing the basil with arugula and parsley, gives this scape pesto a bright and spring-like freshness that is great on anything from pasta to grilled fare to tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.
10 – 12 garlic scapes, trimmed and sliced crosswise
1 cup tightly packed basil
1/2 cup tightly packed Italian parsley
1/2 cup tightly packed arugula
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the scape, basil, parsley and arugula in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse 8 – 10 times until coarsely chopped.
Add the remaining ingredients, except the olive oil, and pulse again to combine. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream until combined and desired texture is reached, scraping down the side of the workbowl as necessary.
Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
The salt in this recipe is based on using it with pasta. If you plan to use it in a non-carby way like a fresh mozzarella drizzle, then you may want to cut back on the salt.
Serve on pasta – hot or cold; top a tomato and fresh mozzarella Caprese; spoon onto grilled chicken, steaks, fish or vegetables; or slather on a sammy.
Prep Time:5 minutes
Keywords: Scape Pesto
When you give this spring arugula and scape pesto a whirl, tag me on Instagram and as always, I LOVE to see your comments below.
Winter Winds into Spring? Is that winds like a pathway or winds like gale-force nor’easter…AGAIN? It’s the first day of spring and NYC is getting hit with the fourth nor’easter in three weeks. This one is coming with perhaps 16″ of snow. My stomach says “winter be gone”. But the howling winds outside say “in due time.” So let’s agree to disagree. This shrimp & white bean dish with a flavor-packed pesto is a compromise. We CAN all get along. The beans and tomatoes cooked down to a hearty stew, but the pesto is tricked out with mint and parsley. I see you, spring.
Upgrade the Pesto
I know how you roll and I got you covered. Shortcut cooking. And before I digress on why I am not a fan of the term “hack”, let’s just acknowledge that shortcuts are what the pros do. Know when you can use a convenience product, like store-bought pesto, and when you need to put on the apron. I am right there with you on not re-inventing the wheel when it comes to already made products. But let’s face it, the pesto can be a little one-note samba-ish. No real depth of flavor. So with only about ten minutes of pan roasting garlic, while picking mint and parsley off the stem, and zesting a lemon, we can add real layered flavor and bring some zip to this dish.
Kick Up the Shrimp
The spice in the shrimp is just enough to make you notice and pay attention. Hellllllo, shrimp. Welcome. You need to give it at least a little kick to soar above the tomatoes and beans which can be bland left to their own devices. It’s all about building the flavors. This only needs a 15 minute marinade while you move on with the rest, then a quick sauté of two minutes per side and you are done.
Prepare the Beans
Nothing goes better together than shrimp & white beans. And nothing makes me happier than opening up cans and dumping into a pan. Okay, okay, it’s best to rinse the white beans, but come on!! I practically pioneered the dump & stir technique and I bring it to you on the reg. Throw the remaining ingredients in a large sauté pan and let ‘er rip. You’ll want to add the pesto last to maintain some green. Show of hands: how many knew that cannellini beans are white kidneys?
Garlic, shallots, lemon, mint plus shrimp & white beans and tomatoes. What’s not to like? Take that pan above and divvy it into bowls, then top with the sautéed shrimp, a sprinkle of fresh mint and a crisp white wine and you are all set. Oh, did I forget? A big crusty loaf of sourdough is mandatory. So many carbs, so little time.
You could really serve shrimp & white beans almost anytime of year, except perhaps the dead of summer (unless cold), but this dish is a polite nod to the arrival of spring. Comfy and cozy, the robust stew of beans and tomatoes, topped with spicy shrimp is lifted up by a pesto that has been doctored with mint and lemon. Yum!
8 cloves of garlic, not peeled
7 ounces prepared pesto
1 cup tightly packed mint leaves
1 cup tightly packed parsley leaves
Zest of one lemon
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided per below
2 or 3 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Garnish with fresh mint, cut into chiffonade (thin strips)
Prepare the pesto:
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, roast the garlic, stirring from time to time, until the skins have charred evenly, about 8 – 10 minutes. Cool and peel.
Transfer the pesto to a blender or food processor and add the garlic, mint, parsley, and lemon zest. Blend until well-combined.
Marinate the shrimp:
In a mixing bowl, combine two Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, Sriracha, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Add the shrimp and set aside for 15 minutes.
Prepare the beans:
Add the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil to the large sauté pan. Heat over medium heat and add the shallots, sautéing until soft and lightly golden, about 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes and their juices, salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, cooking until liquid is reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add beans and pesto and warm through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Cook the shrimp:
In another sauté pan, cook the shrimp over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. You may need to do this in batches.
Divide the bean-tomato mixture among 6 bowls. Top with the shrimp and garnish with fresh mint.
Shrimp is sold in one-pound bags, by size. A one-pound bag marked 16 – 20 contains between 16 and 20 shrimp. The higher the number, the smaller the shrimp.
This can easily stretch to 8 servings with the addition of the third cans of beans and of tomatoes, especially if you are using the smaller size shrimp (and therefore have more per pound).
Makes great leftovers, but you may want to add a little liquid if the beans have soaked it all up. Broth, tomato juice, white wine, or even a little water. Whatever you have on hand will work.
I have had a tattered copy of the grandmother of this meat pie recipe since I first moved to New York – and I always read the faded title as Kulebvaka. Shared with me by an older Jewish woman who was very adventurous in exploring international flavors even in the 70s, the copy was covered in her handwritten notes. I assumed, wrongly as it turns out, that the vaka had something to do with beef, the main ingredient in this recipe. All those years of having the name wrong prevented me from making the connection to coulibiac, one of my earliest catering days’ fancy puffs. The coulibiac I made was filled with salmon and – oh yes – crammed full of eastern European flavors, like dill and sometimes horseradish. Coulibiac. Kulebyaka. “Yaka”, not “Vaka”. The name had nothing to do with the beef that fills the pie. Color me surprised – years and years later.
It turns out the word Kulebyaka comes from the Old Slav verb kulebyachit which means to make with hands – nothing to do with what was inside. It can be stuffed with fish, meat, mushrooms, rice, hard-boiled eggs and so much more. The traditional meat pie recipe calls for a yeast-based dough (I am just using a store bought pre-rolled pie crust), but it was elevated to haute cuisine status (and the pastry became more delicate) during the 19th century when French chefs started appearing in Russia. The tradition continues as the Hennin twin brother chefs that I trained under in Paris spent time in Russia. One showed up here with a vat of caviar as his carry on. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!
That meat pie recipe I received so long ago did in fact have sieved hard-boiled eggs in it, and I kept that intact, making good use of one of my favorite tools, the potato ricer. It helps bind the mixture and is a nod to its Russian roots. I changed all the spices and added fresh dill and an entire bottle of prepared horseradish, because we like our flavors a bit more assertive here in ‘Murica.
There are no real secrets to make this a perfect party addition, and it’s also great for a cozy night at home, served with just a simple salad. Serve it cold, serve it hot; make it an app, make it an entrée. I used a springform pan here, but I have also made it in a scalloped-edge tart pan which gives it a great look. Take some of the extra dough scraps and create flowers or leaves to decorate the top. Just make sure you have a removable-bottom pan for easy removal. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!
This tasty beef pie is great hot or cold. Easy to pull together and pour into a ready-made crust, it is a real crowd pleaser year-round.
Pastry for a double crust pie
2 pounds lean ground beef
3 Tablespoons butter
2 small onions, minced, about 3 cups
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup beef stock
1 8-ounce bottle prepared horseradish, drained
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard seeds, coarsely ground (pulse in a spice grinder)
1 teaspoon celery seeds, coarsely ground (pulse in a spice grinder)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bunch fresh dill, stems removed and finely chopped
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon half & half (cream, milk, whatever you have)
Preheat oven to 400oF. Lightly butter a 9-inch, deep-dish, removable-bottom springform or tart pan. Arrange the bottom crust, pressing into the bottom and sides. Refrigerate until needed.
Sauté beef, breaking into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a strainer and let fat drain off. Wipe out the pan and add the butter. When melted, add the onions and sauté until golden brown, about 13 – 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, press the hard-boiled eggs through a potato ricer or strainer until finely sieved.
Add the drained beef to the onions, and heat through. Sift the flour over the beef and stir in. Add the stock and stir again, cooking through 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in the sieved eggs, the horseradish, pepper, mustard seeds, celery seeds, salt, and dill. Let the mixture cool.
Spoon cooled mixture into the bottom crust. Press down with the back of a spoon to compact. Cover with the remaining pie dough, seal edges, and crimp decoratively. Cut several vent holes to allow steam to escape.
Mix egg yolk and half & half in a small bowl and brush the top of the pie. Place pan on a sheet pan to bake.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Serve hot or cold, as an appetizer or main.
If you cut the pie straight from the oven it will be a bit loose. Better to let it rest for 10 minutes to firm up.
Are you still coming off that turkey coma from last week? Did you feast yourself silly?? Be honest – how many slices of pie did you do? This year we have the rare gift of an extra week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So here’s a dish that will ramp up your detox, so you have plenty of time to retox later. I bring you the Wonder Woman Superfood Salad. Or is it the SuperMAN Superfood Salad? Up to you.
Those who know me know that I am about as far away from being vegan as you can get. Indiana, people. We like our beef corn-fed. Sugar steak. Brats. Pork tenderloin sandwich (smashed and fried to within an inch of its – or my – life). Seriously, if you don’t know what that is, click on the link to see a photo. The damn thing is twice the size of the bun.
Vegan, not so much. But there’s something you may not know. I pretty much stick to plant-based protein for the first two meals of each and every day. Along the way (and thanks to Lyn-Genet), I have found that getting protein from seeds, nuts, and vegetables (broccoli!!!) gives me more energy than a big ole turkey sandwich on white bread. No more post-lunch slugging around. A plant-based dinner is not so far-fetched; it’s free-will choosing to venture to a vegan restaurant that’s outside my zone. Luckily wiser minds prevailed and the good people at Mambo Sprouts hosted a lovely dinner a few months back at Zest Kitchen in Salt Lake City. Shout out to Celiac and the Beast, Just Crumbs, Tea and All Its Splendor, and Delicious Table, among others who made the meal so special.
Superfood Salad – The Green Machine
This superfood salad is somewhat loosely based on the dinner I had that night. And with all the beautiful winter greens in the market now and feeling the need to clean up my act before I do it again, this seems to be the perfect time to hit you with it and get you jamming on my superfood wavelength. Consider this an un-recipe. I don’t give proportions because you can do that. You also are not remotely locked in to all – or even any – of the ingredients I list. So please don’t be daunted by the long string of ingredients below. They are all chef’s choice. Being the overachiever that I am, I may have used all those things listed (I did!) in one salad. Don’t judge. To be fair, I was filling a salad bowl the size of a hula hoop and serving about 30.
One of my favorite dark leafy greens is Tuscan kale. You may also know it as lacinato. Or dino. Or dinosaur. Or black. Or cavolo nero. It goes by so many names. A few years ago, recipes called for you to massage it with salt, but the way I see it…I don’t get salt scrubs and there’s no way my kale is getting better treatment than I. Just sayin’. As with all coarse greens, I stack them (having removed any tough ribs), roll tightly, and cut into the thinnest ribbons. This keeps you from getting a big bite of woody, tough greens.
So many of the fancier greens now are available in baby style. Check out this gorgeous baby kale I found at the winter farmers’ market. It needs nothing more than a quick rinse and a turn in the salad spinner. Dark leafy greens are all high in nutrients, but are especially rich in Vitamin K, iron and calcium, essential for building healthy bones. Eating these greens raw maintains the high levels of all nutrients.
Once you have picked your greens for the base, play around with what I call the chunkies. Grated vegetables that add contrast in color, texture and taste. I used grated carrots, turnips, purple cabbage, some steamed and chopped broccolini, and avocados. Ultimately it will all get tossed together, but it’s nice to present it composed so you can show off all the wonderful choices you have made, at least when it comes to salads.
Power of Protein
Giving up on meat doesn’t mean going protein-free. Did you know that pumpkin seeds have about 9 grams of protein per ounce? That’s only a small handful. And hemp hearts are slightly higher – 10 grams per ounce. Those are the mainstays of my daytime meals, along with some sunflower seeds, chia and flax. Sometimes I add lentils or quinoa to the salad. Both require cooking – pretty fast – and both bring additional protein.
And I love microgreens. These jewels have been popping up in restaurants in recent years as a delicate garnish to sandwiches, salads and entrees. But in fact they are not so delicate when it comes to flavor and nutrition. Their nutritional value is about five times higher than their older sisters, and the flavor they deliver is quite concentrated. Have you ever tried a radish microgreen? Wowza! In the lifecycle of greens, microgreens come between sprouts and baby leaves or baby vegetables. Give them a whirl next time you see them.
Curried Avo Dressing
Because there are a lot of textures in this salad, I wanted a creamy dressing to pull it together. And because many of the ingredients are a bit earthy, I wanted a bright flavor profile in that dressing. Avocado brings the creamy, and curried spices – cumin, coriander, and turmeric – bring the bright flavors, with an underlying earthiness that matches up with the greens. Because this dressing was made for a lot of hearty, sometimes bitter greens, I did not use a light hand in the flagrant flavor department. If you want to use this dressing on a lighter dish – say a chicken salad – you might want to cut back on the garlic and red pepper flakes. Then again, the full flavor version in the recipe below might turn your chicken salad into something pretty special. This is the best curried avo dressing around. Toasting the spices first brings depth of flavor and makes this dressing sing.
Don’t limit it to a green salad – veggie dipper, sandwich slather, pita topper, fish sauce-r. Go! Now!
To add a little pop of sweetness to balance the full flavored dressing, I threw in a handful of golden raisins. It is a nice little surprise for the old tastebuds.
This superfood salad with creamy dreamy curried avo dressing will make you feel good about every decision you have ever made. It’s mean, it’s green, it’s vegan, and it’s chock-full of protein. But forget all that, it’s super delicious and oh so satisfying.
Tuscan kale (aka lacinato, dino, cavolo nero or black kale), cut in thin ribbons
Rainbow chard, sliced
Purple cabbage, thinly sliced
Steamed broccolini, chopped
Quinoa, cooked according to package
Beluga lentils, cooked according to package
Curried Avocado Dressing
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, cut into chunks
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water, or as needed
Make the Dressing:
In a small sauté pan, toast the cumin, coriander and turmeric for about one minute, until fragrant.
With the motor running, drop the garlic into the bowl of a food processor. Turn off and add the avocados, pulsing a few times to a chunky puree. Add the vinegar, toasted spices, salt and peppers and pulse several times until combined.
With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until smooth, adding water as needed to desired consistency.
Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container until ready to use.
Assemble the Salad:
Combine any or all of the ingredients listed, arranging colorfully in a large serving bowl.
Drizzle with the curried avocado dressing and toss to coat the vegetables.
Makes 2 1/2 cups dressing. Store in the refrigerator, in an airtight container.
This dressing is designed for a hearty green and grain salad so is aggressively seasoned. If you want to use this creamy green goodness in a more delicate dish, cut back on the spices and garlic a bit.
If you don’t have white balsamic, use another mildly flavored and light colored vinegar, like rice vinegar.
Curried Avo Dressing is wonderful as veggie dip, a sandwich spread, fajita topper, potato salad dressing and so much more.
How powered up are you now? I promise if you dive right in to the Wonder Woman Superfood Salad, you will feel good about every decision you’ve ever made.