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Tuscan Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Tuscan Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

acinato kale with creamy avocado dressing and watermelon radishes on white plateIf you are up on your leafy green trends or just caught this scathing kale obituary in The Atlantic last month, you might be convinced that kale has had its day in the sun. If kale-bully Amanda Mull is to be believed, nobody really liked it anyway. As a pro-bono promoter of kale, I’d like to speak to my client’s intentions. Chock full of vitamins, with nutrient-rich fiber and low calorie to boot, kale has always had your back. I particularly love Tuscan kale. It’s much less bristle-y and mouth-scratchy than curly kale which can be downright aggressive from plate to mouth. I, a committed kale-lover, find myself begging kale to just get new handlers. Or more accurately, to stop crying out to be handled. Let’s face it – we’d rather get a massage than give a massage, and all those needy recipes calling out for massaging kale were just a bit too much! #AmIRight? Bad PR, in my mind, is the ONLY reason kale gets the cold shoulder. We are smart enough to eat ugly fruits and vegetables to minimize food waste. We should be able to dismiss this nay-sayer dissing my beloved leafy green. 

This time of year (actually most times of year, but it goes so well with fall dishes that it’s more noticeable now), Tuscan kale pops up on every menu. To my tongue, Tuscan or black kale is less woody than curly kale and less in need of a massage…though my pal Mike swears he enjoys beating the kale into submission with a meat mallet. (It’s not entirely clear to me that this is really just about the kale.) Simply trim the stems and remove the rib from the lower end of the leaf, then stack and roll into a tight bundle and cut thinly cross-wise. That’s called a chiffonade. Voilà! Now you speak French. You’re welcome. I recently came across a bag of pre-chopped Tuscan kale at Trader Joe’s, and it was not salad-worthy. The chop was too coarse and it made for quite an unrefined salad. Save the pre-chop for a soup or stirfry. 

Tuscan Kale

lacinato kale in the market

You may also know this dark, wrinkly leaf with a blue-green cast by names other than Tuscan: Lacinato, dino, dinosaur, Cavolo Nero…..even palm tree kale, because the growth pattern resembles the fronds atop a palm tree. It’s been grown in Tuscany for centuries and is a key ingredient in the Italian soups ribollita and minestrone.

Bunch of Lacinato Kale

Creamy Avocado Dressing

All the nooks and crannies cry out for a creamy dressing that will gently nap the leaves. I grew up with Seven Seas Green Goddess, but have never actually tracked down an authentic recipe for one made from scratch. I, as always, simply grab what is on hand. It won’t keep long with the acids taking their turn on all things that start out green, so just make it with what you have today and make it differently tomorrow. With so much flavor in the dressing, I keep salad toppings to a minimum – some sliced radishes for a color contrast and a handful of croutons for added crunch. Tasty!!

Creamy Avocado Dressing with avocado, lemon, and parsely

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lacinato kale with creamy avocado dressing and watermelon radishes

Tuscan Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups dressing; salad serves 4. 1x

Description

Tuscan kale, very thinly sliced, is the perfect dark, leafy green with nooks and crannies to grab this tasty, creamy avocado dressing. Add a few colorful and crunchy garnishes and you have yourself a salad. 


Ingredients

Scale

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (non-fat, full-fat, etc. – your choice)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgen olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped chives
  • 1 clove of garlic (or more to taste)
  • Handful of arugula
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

  • bunch of Tuscan kale, very thinly sliced
  • radishes, thinly sliced – watermelon radishes if you can find them
  • croutons

Instructions

Make the Dressing:

Put the dressing ingredients, and/or anything else green and flavorful you have on hand, in the Vitamix or food processor and let ‘er rip. Scrape down the sides as needed, and taste and adjust seasoning.

It will keep in the fridge for a few days before losing its bright green.  Simply press plastic wrap directly on the surface and seal tightly.

Make the Salad:

Thinly slice the kale by trimming the stems and removing the ribs from the lower end of the leaves. Stack and roll into a tight bundle and cut thinly cross-wise.

Top with sliced radishes and toss with dressing. (You will have dressing left over.)

Garnish with croutons before serving.

Notes

Without the croutons, the kale, even when dressed, will keep for one to two days in the refrigerator. Enjoy your sturdy salad greens!

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Tuscan Kale Salad, Creamy Avocado Dressing

Krazy for Kale?

Give these other kale delights a whirl:

Bunch of Watermelon Radishes

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Shiitake Kale Lasagna Loaded with Love

Shiitake Kale Lasagna Loaded with Love

Shiitake Kale Lasagna

Let me be the very last to wish you a Happy New Year. Can I make amends by being the first to say Happy Valentine’s Day? I’m hitting you up with a delicious shiitake kale lasagna today, and it’s just about perfect for showing the love. Ooey gooey goodness. Check. Next-level comfort food. Check. Flavors that are literally layered. Check. Check. Check. (A lot of layers requires three checks!) What distinguishes this dish from my normal recipe style is that it takes a bit of time. Did I say a bit? Half the damn day. (I exaggerate – a lot). Hence the love factor, as in it is a labor of love to prepare. And in fact, it was a labor of love that I even bring it to you. You can thank my two neighbors that showed up on my doorstep, knocking timidly, hands extended and holding up a cherished lump of frozen kale mushroom lasagna. “Could you? Would you? Figure out what this is?” they asked. They’d found it in the back of the freezer, and it had been a gift. They loved it and wanted more. It was the last little slab. This kind of reminds me of Monica and Phoebe trying to recreate Phoebe’s grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe. Anybody?

I tried it and knew if it was going to be a project I’d undertake, I would surely have to kick the flavors up a notch. I tested this a couple of times, once with the oven ready noodles – no bueno in my mind, but you do you – and it kept getting better. The last one we made together. One thing I learned then and there is that it’s fun to cook with friends, maybe even more fun than cooking for friends. Who knew? This is a perfect recipe – since it has 6 components – to either make over a couple of nights, getting the sub-recipes ready to assemble, or even better, enlist some friends, giving each their own ingredient to prep. I was worried that it was really a bit involved for my blog – I like to roll simple and flavorful. But the reality is lasagna was never meant to be an everyday dish. In Italy, it is a special occasion dish, eaten in smaller portions as a starter. Argh! Americans!! Must we supersize everything??!! I told my colleague Elena Tedeschi from Well Rooted Kitchen that I was working on this, and she gave me a side-eye glance and begged to be reassured that I was not adding ricotta. Wait, what? I always had. Before I could answer, my rolodex brain flipped back to realize that of course the traditional would have been made with béchamel, or besciamella in Italian, a white sauce. I assured her I had a béchamel, conveniently leaving out that I ALSO HAD RICOTTA!!!!!! What am I, an American…adding more when less would have done? Yup! Sorry, not sorry. Not only do I add ricotta, I season the hell out of it. Blame it on the first round with the oven-ready/no-cook noodles. I was trying to keep the dish moist. I will not apologize.

I remember a Washington Post article about the Americanization of lasagna. They are not wrong. The article describes in detail the variations throughout regions of Italy both in terms of recipe and special occasion where you might find it served. The thing they have in common is just how special this dish is, and how laborious – and even expensive – it can be. I think this one fits in right about there. Classic dishes are more likely to be made with homemade thin, nearly translucent noodles. I do short-cut this with a dried pasta, but I try to find an Italian brand, like De Cecco, which is thinner. Bonus points for an artisanal pasta maker. Because lasagna noodles are used by the piece, not the weight (how many pieces are needed to cover a layer?) but sold by the weight, not the piece, it’s tough to guess how much you will need. I used a pound of that inferior no-cook domestic brand, but only 1/2 pound of De Cecco.

I have worked over the years with the legend, Marcella Hazan. She is no doubt rolling in her grave over this version. While a laborious gesture of love, her lasagna was certainly not overstuffed. I would argue that the thing mine has going for it is that there are two distinctly different (and perfectly seasoned, I might add) vegetables – kale and shiitakes – that are the stars. But you can still distinguish all other layers individually – pasta, béchamel and ricotta. I have seasoned each component separately, and you can taste them distinctly. But enough about me, let’s get this party cooking. Have you called your friends yet to schedule a lasagna fest?

Shiitake Kale Lasagna

Picking the Produce

Prep the Vegetables

I am using two kinds of kale, as well as shiitake mushrooms, in lieu of meat for this non-traditional – go ahead and say it – Americanized, Katy-ized version of lasagna. Both Lacinato (also known as dino, Tuscan, black, or flat) kale and baby kale are sautéed, then sweat to a reduction. They get a dose of red pepper flakes for their seasoning. Shiitake mushrooms are sautéed in butter and the pan is then deglazed with Marsala wine.

Sauteing the Kale

Shiitake Saute

Make the Besciamella

This white sauce is normally butter, flour and milk, but because of the double dose of starch – flour + noodles – I cut the milk with vegetable stock. Don’t try to make sense of that – just know I am lightening up the béchamel a bit by not solely using milk for the liquid. Like all roux-based sauces, it’s 1 Tablespoon fat to 1 Tablespoon flour to 1 cup of liquid. Got that? I hope by now you have that mastered. So, it takes 1/4 cup fat, in this case butter, to result in one quart of sauce. Tricky math – 1/4 cup dry is 4 Tablespoons and one quart liquid is 4 cups. Voila! I’m seasoning this with some coriander – just because it plays well with the earthy vegetables – and some nutmeg, albeit more French than Italian. Stay with me.

Season the Ricotta

Elena: Just skip this section and forgive me.

I thin the whole milk ricotta with some milk, and season it with lemon zest, fresh basil and thyme, and a dash of red pepper flakes. Easy peasy.

Spicing the Ricotta

Cook the Noodles and Grate the Cheeses

As mentioned, look for a high-quality Italian-brand dried pasta. The amount needed will depend on the number of pieces per pound. Figure 13 to 15 noodles, which is hard to determine when you are shopping, so buy the one pound box. Before you cook, lay the noodles out in a pan and see what you will need to cover three layers. I like to do the first and third layer cross-wise and the middle layer lengthwise. That makes it easier to hold together when you cut the lasagna. If all layers go the same direction, you will no doubt trigger a noodle landslide. Nobody wants that.

For the cheeses, I used Pecorino Romano (a classic), goat Mozzarella (cow will do) and Fontina Fontal (super melter). Each cheese brings its own special flavor notes and texture, but at a minimum you want a finely grated super flavor like a Pecorino and a hand-grated melter like a Mozz and/or Fontina. Shout out to The Cheese Lady for filling my life with options!Lasagna Layers

Layer the Shiitake Kale Lasagna

At the risk of TMI, I have provided a detailed list of the layering order with specific details on how much of each ingredient to use. Maybe its me, but I often find myself trying to figure out why I end up with some arbitrary ingredient portion left over or trying to count layers and doing long division, especially if the details are buried in a verbose paragraph. It makes the printout lengthy but you can NOT go wrong. Not on my watch!!

adding ricotta

I hope you will find a cold wintery night and a couple friends to either help you prep or at least to pour your wine as you go. You will be the belle of the ball if you mic-drop this on the table. Some red wine and a big salad – maybe with a touch of sweetness like juicy pears – and settle in. Buon Appetito.

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Shiitake Kale Lasagna on a white plate with a fork and micro green salad

Loaded with Love Shiitake Kale Lasagna


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Description

This shiitake kale lasagna is a dreamy wintery dish, chock-full of earthy greens and mushrooms, with a cozy dose of melty cheeses and warm spices. Enlist your friends and make a night out of prepping the layers and assembling, then settle in to reap the rewards. 


Ingredients

Scale

Kale

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 bunches of Lacinato (dino, Tuscan) kale, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
  • 2 5-ounce packs of baby kale
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Mushrooms

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 12 Tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Marsala wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Béchamel Sauce (makes 1 quart):

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Grating of fresh nutmeg

Ricotta

  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound Italian-brand lasagna pasta (you will need about 15 pieces)

Cheese Mix:

  • 1/3 pound Pecorino Romano, 1 1/4 cups grated
  • 1/2 pound goat (or cow) Mozzarella, 2 cups grated
  • 1/3 pound Fontina Fontal, 2+ cups grated

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325oF. Butter a 3-quart 9 x 13 baking dish. 

Prep the layers:

Kale: Heat olive oil over high heat in a large sauté pan. Add chopped garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add chopped Lacinato kale and the baby kale and stir to wilt. You may need to add the greens in batches, until there is enough room to add more. Add 3 Tablespoons water and cover. Cook for about 2 minutes, then remove the lid and cook about 2 minutes more until the liquid is evaporated. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.

Mushrooms: Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the shallots and cook about 4 minutes until shallots are golden. Add 1 Tablespoon butter and the shiitakes, cooking for 4 minutes until cooked through. Add an additional Tablespoon butter, if needed. Deglaze the pan with 2 Tablespoons Marsala wine, scraping up the brown bits. Season with black pepper.

Béchamel Sauce: Heat 4 Tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, whisking in the flour until smooth. Cook the roux for several minutes, letting it bubble at least one minute, until lightly golden. Add the milk and vegetable stock, in a slow drizzle until all is incorporated. Season with salt, coriander, pepper and nutmeg. Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasonings and adjust.

Ricotta: Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Pasta: Cook the noodles according to package directions in salted water, undercooking by about two minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drizzle a little olive oil on the noodles and lay them out on a foil-lined sheet pan, with plastic wrap between the layers. Cover with a damp towel if you are holding for a little while or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate if you are prepping a day ahead.

Cheese: Combine the three cheeses together in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

To make assembly easier to follow, I am listing each layer separately, along with how much to use. Layer as follows:

  • Béchamel Sauce – 1 cup
  • Lasagna Noodles – cross-wise, about 3 – 5 pieces, depending on brand, trimmed to fit
  • Béchamel Sauce – 1 cup
  • Kale mixture – 1/2 of the mixture
  • Grated cheese – 1/3 of the mixture
  • Mushrooms – 1/2 of the mixture
  • Ricotta filling – 1/2 of the mixture
  • Lasagna Noodles – lengthwise, about 3 – 4 whole noodles, trimming as needed to fill ends
  • Béchamel Sauce – 1 cup
  • Kale mixture – 1/2 of the mixture
  • Grated cheese – 1/3 of the mixture
  • Mushrooms – 1/2 of the mixture
  • Ricotta filling – 1/2 of the mixture
  • Lasagna Noodles – cross-wise, about 3 – 5 pieces trimmed to fit
  • Béchamel Sauce – 1 cup
  • Grated cheese – 1/3 of mixture

Place on a sheet pan to catch bubble-overs, and bake, covered with foil sprayed with oil to prevent sticking, for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and raise the oven temperature to 425oF. Bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes until the cheese is starting to brown and the lasagna is bubbly.           

Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Notes

The prep time here is directly correlated to how many people and how much wine. I am a speedy chopper and prepped in less time than shown. If you are a leisurely chopper or socializing, it may take longer. Or, many hands make light work.

  • Prep Time: 90 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stovetop, Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Kale Lasagna

Shiitake Kale Lasagna Fresh From the Oven

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Wonder Woman/Superman Superfood Salad

Wonder Woman/Superman Superfood Salad

Curried Avo Dressing on Superfood SaladAre 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.

Power Greens Superfood

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.
Market Greens, Baby Kale

Adding Crunch

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.

Composed Superfood Salad

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.

Assembling Superfood Salad
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.
Micro Sprouts

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!

Creamy Curried Avocado Dressing

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.

Lots of Superfood Protein

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Curried Avo Dressing with Super Greens

Wonder Woman Superfood Salad with Curried Avocado Dressing


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Yield: Chef's Choice

Description

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. 

 

Ingredients

Scale

Greens

  • Tuscan kale (aka lacinato, dino, cavolo nero or black kale), cut in thin ribbons
  • Rainbow chard, sliced
  • Baby kale
  • Spinach, chopped
  • Arugula, torn
  • Watercress
  • Pea shoots

Veggies

  • Grated carrots
  • Grated turnips
  • Grated radishes
  • Purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Steamed broccolini, chopped
  • Avocado, chopped

Plant-based Proteins

  • Quinoa, cooked according to package
  • Beluga lentils, cooked according to package
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Hemp hearts
  • Chia

Toppings

  • Golden raisins
  • Microgreens

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

Instructions

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. 

Notes

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.

  • Category: Entree, Salad
  • Cuisine: Vegan

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.

Dressing the Superfoods

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.

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Turmeric: It Cures What Ails You and Makes a Mean Curry

Turmeric: It Cures What Ails You and Makes a Mean Curry

You know a movement has had its awareness sufficiently raised when a blithe reference slips into a throw-away line on a sitcom. After two posts on food waste last week, imagine my squeals when I heard this from a waiter at a hip millennial launch party on a newish sitcom: “The bruschetta has been made with rescued tomatoes and date of expiration burrata”. I’m squealing. Really. Yipeeeeeeee!

Unfortunately summer bruschetta is the last thing on my cooking mind today. A girl can dream. But as I moped through the grocery looking for anything to lift the gloom of winter’s darkest days, I was thrilled to see fresh turmeric. I didn’t even know you could get this in a mainstream grocery – in the Midwest. It used to be relegated to special trips to Asian markets in big cities. Or more likely it could only be sourced dried and ground. Honestly, I was never a fan of turmeric when I only knew its dried self. I thought it tasted – well, yellow. It didn’t really register much on my palate. But while doing guest chef stints on culinary cruises in the Caribbean, I would gather up ever fresh market item that was a bit unique and had a story and introduce our passengers to these new world treats. I even spent one week being followed by the Food Network, and we hit the Grenada spice market hard.

Fresh and Ground TurmericTurmeric was just one of the many spices I found bears little resemblance to its dry spice counterpart. Mace was another. It makes sense that I love turmeric because it’s related to ginger – and I’m well documented as a “fiend for ginger”. Both are rhizomes, along with galangal, lotus, bamboo, and many more. They spread laterally (called creeping rootstalk) and send shoots up. Many have culinary uses.

Like ginger, turmeric when fresh has a pungent and aromatic taste that can be quite peppery (HOT!), especially when used in excess. It is a key player in many South Asian (Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, and Cambodian) dishes – both for flavor and color; you’ll find it in American food as a colorant that can range from subtle to supreme. Vanilla products like yogurt and pudding turn creamy, not stark white, and mustard turns bright yellow.

But turmeric’s real claim to fame is its medicinal properties. Like ginger, turmeric has powerful anti-nausea (turmeric tea, just boil it up), anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties. If only this miracle worker could clean the bath!! (Nobody wants a yellow tub, I know, I know). It’s even being studied for treatment of IBS, Alzheimer’s, depression and cancer. Rock stah!

Infographic courtesy of  Cognitune Smarter Health.

So I grabbed a handful and headed home, determined to make a spicy vegan curry. It doesn’t have to be vegan or even vegetarian, but that is what I had on my mind. Tucking in for the night with a Buddha Bowl of Spicy Goodness.

Start by making a Yellow Curry Paste – this will make four times what you need and freezes well.  You can add a lot of different ingredients or leave out some of these, but this is what I had on hand and so what I used. Roasting the aromatics and toasting the spices, while a bit more time-consuming, will elevate the taste and develop a real depth of flavor that you simply can’t get by just pureeing all the ingredients. It’s worth the commitment.

Oven Roasting Aromatics

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Turmeric Yellow Curry

Chock-full o’ Turmeric Yellow Curry Paste


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: about 2 cups 1x

Description

Many curry recipes are simple purees, but this one roasts the aromatics and toasts the spices. While a bit more time-consuming, this extra step develops depth of flavor that you simply can’t get with dump and whirl. It’s worth the commitment. And bonus – it freezes well!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 shallots
  • 5 pieces of turmeric
  • 3 heads of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil (plus more to drizzle on aromatics)
  • Spice Blend:
    • 2 Tablespoons ground coriander
    • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
    • 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
    • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon clove
    • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 Tablespoons lemongrass paste (a tube usually found with herbs in produce section)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400oF.

Wrap the aromatics, each in their own foil pouch, and place on a sheet pan to roast. (20 minutes for the turmeric; 1 hour for the shallots and garlic)

  •  Shallots – peeled, placed in a foil pouch and drizzled with olive oil
  • Turmeric – well scrubbed, placed in a foil pouch and drizzled with olive oil
  • Garlic – loose outer “paper” removed, tops of each head trimmed, placed in a foil pouch and drizzled with olive oil

In a small sauté pan, heat one Tablespoon olive oil and add all the spices. Sauté, stirring, for about two minutes until the spices start to release their aroma. Transfer to the work bowl of a food processor.

Once the aromatics are cool enough to handle, transfer the shallots and turmeric to the bowl of a food processor. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the processor, picking by hand any that linger behind. Discard the garlic “paper”.

Add the lemongrass paste and sea salt. Puree until desired consistency.

Transfer to airtight container and refrigerate or freeze.

Notes

This will last longer than if it were made with raw herbs or aromatics, and it also freezes well.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Blender/Processor
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: turmeric, curry

Yellow Curry Paste

Now that you have that tasty curry, how about whipping up a Coconut Curry Buddha Bowl, filled with hearty and soul-warming sweet potatoes and earthy greens and topped with pumpkin seeds. It’s vegan and you can feel great about that for so many reasons. 

Coconut Turmeric Curry with Winter Vegetable Buddha Bowl

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 inch piece of ginger, trimmed, grated
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 Tablespoons yellow chock-full o’ turmeric yellow curry paste
  • 14-ounce can coconut cream
  • 1 cup (chicken or) vegetable stock
  • 5 ounce bitter salad greens blend (kale, chard, spinach)

Garnish:

  • 2 chopped scallions
  • 2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Serving suggestion – rice or brown rice* (See note below)

 

Start the rice.

In a wok or deep skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the ginger for 2-3 minutes until soft.

Add the sweet potatoes, curry paste, coconut cream and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring periodically, for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and sauce is thickened.

Sweet Potatoes and Bitter Greens

Add the greens and stir until wilted.

Divide rice among bowls and top with sweet potato curry. Garnish with scallions, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4.

*Brown rice note: I really prefer brown rice but you’ve likely heard the bad news about arsenic. Because it is a whole grain, it has more potential for danger than white rice which has been stripped of its outer hull (and for that matter its nutritional value). Truth be told, I really don’t eat it very often – once a month or less – so I’m not that worried but I do take a couple precautions. Brown basmati from California, India and Pakistan are the best choices – about 1/3 less risk than other brown rices according to Consumer Reports. The other thing I do is rinse it several times, and then cook it like pasta in a 6:1 water ratio (instead of the normal 2:1) and drain the excess water. That will help wash away the evil-doers lurking in your lovely whole grain. My Grandmother always said “you’ve gotta eat a peck of dirt before you die”. I’m guessing she wasn’t talking about arsenic, but she did make it pass 90. Just sayin.

Coconut Turmeric Curry with Winter Vegetables

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2016. All rights reserved.

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