Kale Salad: My New Found Winter Green Romance

Kale is a tremendously nutritious green, readily available during the gray winter months- but is it possible to fall in love with it?

No doubt most of you have heard all the remarkable benefits of dark leafy greens. It turns out that Kale is the superstar of them all! It’s packed with vitamins {1 cup=180% RDA of Vitamin A, 200% Vitamin C, 1,000% Vitamin K, 15% Calcium} plus fiber, minerals and leutine. All these letters and numbers add up to a heart healthy, blood healthy vegetable that would be really good for those who are at risk for heart disease- and just incredible for the rest of us. Not to mention all that goodness for a mere 30 calories!

This is all well and good, but I don’t know about you…. I’ve never really been a big fan. I find all the winter greens such as Collard greens, Mustard greens, Beet greens, Kale and Escarole tough and bitter. I’ve also have had a few bowls of Collards in the South (which may be the fault of the restaurant) that I found to be soppy and a bit gray/brown. I chalked it up to an acquired taste (and still may be).

Earlier this season I stumbled upon a shaved Brussel Sprout recipe, and the raw, tough leaves were incredible, especially when allowed to be subdued by languishing in a vinegar and oil dressing. Surely this would be the answer for Kale too.

And it is.

Even better is the notion of “massaging the leaves”, which aids in the breakdown of the cell walls, not only turning the mass into a bright, delicious green, but also turning the tough to tender.

A healthy pinch of salt brought out a bit of the sweetness- and then an amazing thing happened.

I, in fact, have found a new love. There is a “tooth” to Kale, even with this technique, but it’s satisfying, and the leaves are not bitter. I found myself gobbling it up with eyebrow lifting amazement. Sorry Spinach- there’s new kid in town.

If you’re a fan of sauteed greens, I’ve been told the trick is to boil the greens first in some salted water for approximately 3 minutes. Then remove them, squeeze out the water, and then sautee like spinach. The water and salt softens them while preserving some of the green and opens them up to receive other flavors, such as garlic and oil.

I do hope if you’re not a Kale fan that you give recipe this a whirl. Who knows, you may begin your own romance.

Tender Kale Salad with Apples and Pepitas
This salad an be eaten directly after making, or allow it to rest for 20 minutes, or more, for an even better taste. Prep time: 15 minutes
135 calories
26 g
0 g
3 g
4 g
0 g
225 g
107 g
11 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 135
Calories from Fat 29
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 107mg
Total Carbohydrates 26g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 11g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 2T Cider Vinegar
  2. 2T Walnut oil
  3. .5t Salt
  4. .5t Honey
  5. .5t ground black pepper
  6. 6c Kale, washed and chopped
  7. 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
  8. .5c celery, chopped
  9. .25c red onion, thinly sliced
  10. 2T pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  1. Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Add the kale. Toss with the dressing and with your clean hands work the dressing into the leaves by pinching and squeezing.
  2. The leaves will start to turn a deep green color after about a minute.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
  4. Serve.
A Stack of Dishes http://www.astackofdishes.com/

Chicken Crusted with Wasabi Peas and Slaw with Thai Peanut Dressing

The flavors here in Thailand are a symphony compared to a song. It is not unusual to take a bite and have so many taste sensations going on at once that it can be staggering: sweet, sour, spicy, deep umami and texture.

On my first trip to Chaing Mai everything was a delight (ok, the beans on the ice cream I could have done without), but this trip I am learning more of the nuances and quality of Thai food. There are cooks and chefs, and it’s apparent that it’s not the ingredients that separates the two, it’s the finesse, the grace and the balance.

What I can tell you is that the comparable ingredients that are available to me in NYC are not exactly the same as here. The limes I find sweeter here, and the tamarind more sour than tart- but don’t let that dissuade you.  Preparing Thai food is not difficult and the results are fantastic.

I love making this dish with the wasabi peas. The texture is fantastic and the bite of wasabi is not terrifically sharp when balanced with the chicken. My advice is the slice your chicken into thin pieces, or pound out thinly- otherwise the peas can burn before the chicken cooks through. An alternative is you can bake large pieces of chicken, such as breasts on the bone, and that would be fine.

The Thai dressing on the slaw will make you new friends. It’s so simple and so delicious that I invite you to make a batch and pour it over everything you can get your hands on. A great alternative on tomatoes and cucumbers out of the summer garden for instance.

I’ve never been a huge fan of mayonnaise rich cole slaw, nor of it’s picnic cousins potato and macaroni salad- but raw cabbage is delicious and tremendously healthy. I love this dressing on shredded cabbage. The red cabbage when mixed with the acid of the lemon juice draws out the color to a bright pretty pink. Both pretty and yummy- make more than you think- it goes fast.

Chicken Crusted with Wasabi Peas
serves 4
2# skinless chicken breasts sliced very thin
2c wasabi peas, roughly crushed
1c buttermilk
1 clove garlic crushed
grand pinch of salt
oil for frying pan
Note on frying: get our that honkin’ heavy cast iron frying pan and use it. As time goes by I am less and less a fan of nonstick pans. A well seasoned and loved cast iron pan can be a girl’s best friend. I used little oil for this recipe-less than I would in a nonstick- and my chicken cooked beautifully. Buffed biceps are a bonus.
combine garlic, salt and buttermilk in a bowl and allow to sit for a few minutes to flavor the buttermilk.
Meanwhile prepare the peas and place on a flat plate or low shallow bowl.
Preheat cast iron pan over medium heat with just enough oil to cover the bottom.
slip all the chicken into the buttermilk to coat and soak.
Press each fillet into the peas, pressing hard to get good adherence.
Cook the chicken on each side about 2-3 minutes or until cooked through.
serve immediately.
Cabbage Slaw with Thai Peanut Dressing
serves 4
4-6c finely shredded cabbage
1T toasted sesame oil
2T sugar
2T brown sugar
2T fresh lemon juice
2T fresh lime juice
2T chopped fresh mint
1 small thai chili finely chopped, or 2t jalapeno (optional)
3/4 c roasted, chopped, unsalted peanuts
Combine dressing ingredients into large bowl and stir to combine and melt sugars.
Toss in the slaw and allow to sit for 15 mins before serving.
My partner and I are planning on organizing Thai Food cooking trips in the future. We have connections to some of the best Thai chefs. My partner is fluent in Thai and lived here for many years. The next trip will probably be in January to Northern Thailand. I would love to know if there is interest. Drop me a note if you would like to be placed on the mailing list for more information.
Sawaadii Khaa!

Fresh Goat Milk Ricotta Ruby Beet Salad

Fresh made Goat Milk Ricotta with ruby beets and pistachios

A little disclosure is that I would really love to learn how to make cheese. It’s probably the mad scientist in me, but there is something about the alchemy of it all that is just fascinating. My friend Cathy Wheelbarrow-you may know her as Mrs. Wheelbarrow– taught just such a class this past weekend in DC.  Together this class made all of my favorites: Ricotta, creme fraiche, fresh chèvre and fresh mozzarella. Though aged cheeses are intriguing, a girl could keep herself pretty busy with these.
It’s no secret by now I can get into making ricotta at home. It’s pretty simple and I find it so remarkably rewarding. Though this past week I found myself wondering how goat milk ricotta would taste. Would the tang play though, or does it need aging?
This brought back to mind a trip that my family took one wintery weekend when I was a kid of about 9 or so. Some friends of the family had chosen to escape the corporate rat race and bought a goat farm up in Rheinbeck, New York. They lived in a rickety, drafty, old house warmed by wood stoves that was back into the woods down a winding country road. It was all so beautiful except for the frosty air that hit us when we climbed out from under piles of quilts the next morning. Shivering at the breakfast table all bleary eyed, we were given mugs of hot chocolate. In my house such things were for holidays and rarest of occasions, so this was a delight- until I took a sip. The taste was tart and sour and animal. Oh what a blow to my little girl expectations! When I pushed it away my Mother, in a sing songy voice said, “It’s fiiiiine, just go ahead and drink it petunia”- only later confessing it was made with milk from their goats.
So armed with this memory I decided to give it a try- and it turned out remarkably well. A little bit milder than I would have imagined, which turned out to be an asset. The result was a more delicate taste and an overall sense of lightness. The goat milk I had purchased from Whole Foods which came pasteurized and boxed. The next time I might venture down to the farmer’s market and try some fresh milk and compare the difference.
Fresh Goat Milk Ricotta and Ruby Beet Salad
1 qt goat milk
generous pinch of salt
2T fresh lemon juice
cheese cloth or a fine meshed strainer
roasted ruby beets, peeled
grated orange zest
fruity olive oil
chopped pistachios
S & P
Place the goat milk and salt in a heavy saucepan and gently bring to the boil.
Lower the heat and stir in the lemon juice. The curds will immediately begin to separate from the whey.
Gently simmer the ricotta for about 2 minutes, then strain though some cheese cloth or a fine meshed strainer. I have a yogurt strainer that I found somewhere that works like a charm. The whey is rich in nutrients and great tossed into a soup, if you’re compelled to do such things.
The longer the curds sit the dryer they will be, so you should go by personal preference on this. I let mine sit for about 3 minutes before transferring it into a container to store.
Let the curds come to room temperature on the counter and then store in the fridge. 
Use within the week.
The Ruby Beet salad is a simple combination of all the above listed ingredients. Drizzle the olive oil over with a nice pinch of coarse salt and a generous grind of black pepper.