Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kale Caesar Salad


As you know, I...love...kale.  So imagine my delight at opening my first Winter CSA box to find it blanketed in kale. Literally, the whole top of the box was kale-covered.  After a chard-heavy summer share, I quite literally squealed in delight, "ooooohhhhhhhhhhhheeeeee!"

Since then, I've enjoyed poached eggs over sauteed kale, kale chips, and the simple recipe below:  Kale "Caesar Salad."  What I love about this preparation is that you don't have to actually cook the kale.  And as a farm share loving neighbor** pointed out when I had him taste this the other night, this actually ups the nutritional value as you do not lose any nutrients to the cooking process. 

**Yes, during a rocking holiday party I pulled a fellow CSA lover from the living room into the kitchen to talk CSA, vegetable storage, and to taste this kale salad -- it was a nerdy vegetable convention in my kitchen and I loved it!

Kale Caesar Salad
Ingredients
  • 3 cups of washed, de-stemmed kale cut into bite-size ribbons
  • One lemon
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 5-8 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions
  • Mash the garlic with the kosher salt, add to the bottom of your serving bowl
  • Juice the lemon on top of the garlic paste, removing any seeds
  • Add a couple of cracks of freshly ground pepper
  • Add 1/3 cup of olive oil and 5 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, mixing until until the ingrediants form a dressing 
  • Toss in the kale to coat.  Sample your salad, and add more olive oil or Parmesan cheese to taste (i always end up with more of both!)
  • Let stand 15 minutes before serving
Dressing

Kale Caesar Salad

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bobby Flay's Wild Rice, Sausage & Goat Cheese Stuffing

For years, I skipped holiday stuffing opting for more mashed potatoes or starchy corn pudding. Perhaps it was my aversion to raisins (or any fruit in a savory dish) or dislike of those boxed, horribly hard croutons. Then I tried Bobby Flay's wild rice and goat cheese stuffing, and my oh my am I a convert!!  Stuffing is now hands down my favorite part of any holiday meal. We enjoyed it on Thanksgiving, and I will whip it up again this Sunday for the Christmas table. 

While Bobby's recipe is delicious on its own, I've made it enough times to alter it slightly for our tastes. Unsurprisingly to any regular LaurenLivingLocally reader, I added some kale. I also took the sausage down a notch in spiciness to accommodate the mixed palettes of our family. Lastly, I omitted parsley...the cardboard of herbs in my opinion. Otherwise, it is true to the original form and we enjoy every single flavor-packed bite.

The second best part of this stuffing recipe is the leftovers. Poach an egg, serve it for breakfast the next day and I promise you will be one happy camper.  The real question is why do we only serve scrumptious stuffing on the holidays? That has got to change! One of my 2012 food resolutions: Eat more stuffing! 

Bobby Flay's Wild Rice, Sausage & Goat Cheese Stuffing
Courtsey of Bobby Flay & the Food Network
Ingredients
  • 2 cups wild rice
  • 6 cups water / follow your rice directions
  • 1 pound diced sweet sausage (or spicy chorizo if your table can hack it!) 
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots 
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (optional)
  • 1 cup washed, de-stemmed and loosely chopped kale
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 loaf country-style bread, cubed (either day old, or toasted in the oven for crunchiness)
  • 2 to 4 cups chicken stock 
  • 12 ounces goat cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 375 
  • Combine the water, rice and 1 tablespoon of salt in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to low heat and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, (or follow directions on package).  Drain and set aside 
  • Melt the butter in either your final baking dish or a saute pan over medium heat, and cook the sausage, onions, carrots and celery until done.  Add the garlic, herbs & kale, and saute another 2 minutes, mixing frequently
  • Combine the bread, goat cheese, 2 cups of stock and rice with the vegetable sausage mixture and mix well to coat and melt the cheese.  It should be very moist, so add more stock if needed.  Add a few cranks of salt & pepper, and either bake in this dish or transfer to a large buttered baking dish
  • Bake, uncovered for 25-30 minutes.  Remove and let rest 10 minutes before serving
  • If you make this the day before, or want to enjoy it again in the morning, simply add a bit more stock and reheat for 20-25 minutes. 
Getting Started
 

A No-Justice to Deliciousness Final Product Photo 
 

Breakfast Stuffing with a Poached Egg!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lauren Lately: Anything but the Kitchen Sink Soup

With winters tentacles firmly rooted, I've been craving and making lots of "cozy" soup dinners.  Warm, thrown together without precision, better served with a hunk of bread... that's Lauren Lately!

Anything but the Kitchen Sink Soup
Ingredients
  • 2+ types of veggies, chopped into bite size pieces (Yesterday I used 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and 1 cup of frozen CSA Swiss Chard. Small potatoes and turnips work well too)
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • Protein of choice and/or a can of beans
  • Olive Oil
  • Stock
  • Herbs
  • Optional: Parmesan cheese
Directions 
  • Saute your onion, and any hardy vegetables in olive oil over medium heat for 4 minutes
  • If you are using it, add in the protein (2 crumbled sausages, 1 cup ground turkey, a handful of chicken pieces...) and stirring often continue cooking until warmed or cooked through
  • Cover the mixture with stock until everything is just submerged, then add another inch of stock on top
  • Add in any beans (kidney, garbanzo, black bean) or leafy vegetables (kale, swiss chard, radish leaves) and a couple sprinkles of herbs (dried or fresh rosemary, thyme, basil)
  • Cook over medium low heat for about 20 minutes, checking frequently until your sturdiest vegetable is cooked through
  • Optional: add in 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese to thicken the broth
  • Enjoy with bread or crackers 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce


Inspired by this delectable sounding sauce, I decided to try my hand at using a butternut squash as a quick marinara sauce alternative.  Butternuts are highly contested in our household -- one of us finds them too sweet often raising a brow when it lands on the table, while the other of us loves it. As the cook, I have probably not disguised who is who whatsoever!  I still sneak into the rotation, roasting it with other vegetables like this, or masking it with other great flavors.  On this night, there was no masking....we had butternut squash pasta sauce for dinner.  Unsurprisingly, half of us enjoyed it.

I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 on the flavor scale.  More importantly, I'd give it a 4.5 out of 5 for ease of preparation.  And lets be honest, mid-week, sometimes ease outweighs all else.

Next time, I would consider more onion or a roasted red pepper.  Do you have a favorite quick sauce recipe? I'd love to hear it in the comments section.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Ingredients
  • 1 large butternut squash, sliced in half lengthwise and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1.5 teaspoons crushed red pepper 
  • 2 - 3 cloves garlic, skin intact
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Pasta of your choice + 2/3 of a cup of reserved pasta water
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Toss the onion, squash and garlic with olive oil in a roasting pan
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the crushed red pepper and roast for 30-35 minutes, until browned 
  • Meanwhile, prepare the pasta reserving 2/3rds a cup of pasta water*
  • Remove the pan from the oven, separate the skin from the squash and garlic
  • Blend the squash, onion, garlic and parmesan until mixed in a food processor or blender.  In 1/3 cup increments, blend in the reserved pasta water until you reach your desired sauce consistency
  • Toss with the pasta, sprinkle with additional cheese and enjoy

*I often throw sturdy green vegetables into my cooking pasta with 1-2 minutes to go. Brocolli and green beans stand up well and add color and nutrients to the plate.
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