Kale & Cabbage Salad with Toasted Pepitas & Plum Vinaigrette

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I sliced 1/4 head of cabbage into thin ribbons and chopped up an equal amount of fresh kale in similar thin ribbons.

In a large pot, I brought 2 cups of water to a boil with a teaspoon of salt. I added the cabbage and kale and put a lid on it, letting them cook for one minute. I strained the water off and set them in the fridge to cool.

Meanwhile, I sliced up 2 plums and sautéed them in 2 TBSP of white wine vinegar and 2 tsp of soy sauce with 2 tsp of Tajín. I added a bit of salt and pepper, a tsp of sugar and stirred until the plums were just about to break down, but were still holding together. I poured the dressing on the kale and cabbage, stirred and set back in the fridge to cool.

Before serving, I toasted the pepitas in a bit of peanut oil with smoked paprika.

This made two large servings or four small salads. It’s a great blend of hearty veggies, sweet fruit and tangy vinegar. The pepitas add a bit of crunch and umami.

Roasted Grape Vinaigrette

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The Oregon Food Bank is an essential part of my monthly food budget, but except during the summer Harvest Share, it is a better source of canned and dry goods like beans, oatmeal and pasta than fresh foods. Most of the vegetables are at or past their sell-by date and it shows. However, that does not mean they are unusable. I went to the Food Bank yesterday and came home with about two cups of green grapes. They were more brown than green and looked rough around the edges, but I figured I could come up with something. I picked out the few that were actually rotting, only a small handful, and washed the grapes. I tasted one and it was pretty bland, its grape flavor lost, so I decided to roast them, hoping the dry heat would intensify their flavor. I spread them out in a pie pan and put them in the oven at 450° for about 20 minutes. They were starting to brown, but had no charring at all. I tasted another one, it had a rich, deep flavor now. I thought about making a sauce for some roast pork or chicken, but then had the brainstorm to make a vinaigrette – sort of a honey mustard vinaigrette without the honey, letting the roasted grapes provide all the sweetness. I think it was a stroke of genius.

  • 1.5 cups of seedless green grapes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp of mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • poppy seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 yellow onion, cut in a few pieces so it’s easy to chop.
  • 1 clove of garlic

First, clean, dry and roast the grapes at 450° for about 20 minute or so. Set aside and let cool.

In a magic bullet, blender or food processor (I only have the first) put the grapes, olive oil, vinegars and mustard, salt and pepper and puree completely. This whips everything together and the oil and vinegar do not separate later. Add the onion and garlic and pulse a few times so they are chopped up into tiny bits, but not completely liquified. You can tinker a bit, adding more vinegar, salt, pepper, etc to get this to your perfect sweet-tartness.

This is delicious salad dressing. It’s very tart with a bit of the sweetness of a sweet and sour dressing, but not nearly as sweet as a honey mustard. There’s a layered flavor from the roasted grapes that make me think of wine and a bit of smokiness. I will have fun trying it out.

Portuguese Chard and Bean Soup

Portuguese Chard and White Bean Soup

It has been incredibly hot here in Oregon – a heat wave the likes of which I never imagined for this temperate state. Nonetheless, I was in the mood for soup. Of course, I made it in the cooler early morning along with breakfast, long before lunch time and then just heated it up when it was time to eat it. The thing is, Mom was right about soup. There is no reason not to serve soup when it is hot, you just have to serve the right soup. By that she meant a soup that avoid lots of carbs. This soup does that.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of red chard stems, diced
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 11 oz linguiça, sliced thinly
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 3 cups chopped red chard leaves
  • 3 cups chopped cabbage
  • Salt and pepper

To make the soup, I put a tablespoon of olive oil in my stock pot and added 1 tsp of cumin and salt and pepper. Then I added the onions to sauté and get tender. When the onions were tender, I added the red chard stems and minced garlic. I added some white wine vinegar and let the stems cook and absorb the vinegar. This gives them a brighter, less earthy flavor. I also added some salt and pepper. Adding a bit of salt and pepper at each stage layers the flavors so everything is seasoned and, counter-intuitively, you will be less likely to over-season.

Next I added the linguiça and let them cook to bring out a a bit more flavor before adding the water and bay leaves. I let this all simmer for about 10 minutes, then I added the beans and tomatoes and some salt and pepper. I let cook another 10 minutes or so and added the cabbage and chard leaves, with some salt and pepper. Another 5 – 7 minutes and it was done. I let it cool just a bit before serving.

This is delicious, though it makes far more than a single serving. More like 10 servings, but soup only gets better the next day. The vegetables are not overdone, the cabbage and chard complement each other beautifully, the linguiça makes such a rich and flavorful broth.

Cucumber Strawberry Lemon Drop Salad

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

I dreamed about this salad before I made it. It was hot out and I was reading a book, cooled by a fan. I dozed through dinner, though I dreamt I made myself a salad of cucumbers and strawberries with a tart lemony vinaigrette. I sliced these strawberries twice, one in a dream and then later when I decided to make my dream-inspired salad.

This is a fast and easy salad. I sliced up 2 cups of fresh strawberries and 2 cups of English cucumber (but no reason you can’t use regular cucumber) and tossed them in a storage container.

I juiced two lemons and added the zest from one of the lemons. This gave me about 1/2 cup of lemon juice. To that I added about 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 TBSP of sugar. I mixed it all together and then added 1 TBSP of white wine vinegar. I added this to the strawberries and cucumbers and shook them together.

I let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes so the dressing could permeate everything. It was as sweet and tart as a lemon drop with rich fruity strawberry flavor and fresh, springlike cucumber. This made two servings.

Next time, I might use just half the dressing and reserve the rest for another salad.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad

I roasted some brussels sprouts and onion for dinner the other night. I really had to roast all my brussels sprouts because I had forgotten I had them and they were too close to turning. Cooking them would stop the process and give them a reset. So I roasted all of them with some onions, making far more than could be eaten in one meal. I stored in them in container in the fridge and made a salad the next day.  It was still a pretty big salad, making three servings in all.

I had about 2 cups of roasted brussels sprouts and bits of roasted onion. I cut the brussels sprouts in half or quarters depending on how big they were. Then I cut up an apple. I used a Gala, but any reasonably crisp and tart apple will do. I added about 1/4 cup of feta cheese and some salt and pepper. Then I added about 1/2 TBSP of white wine vinegar. I presumed that the olive oil used in roasting the brussels sprouts would be more than enough oil to balance the vinegar and i was right.

The salad was delicious. There’s a smokey sweetness to the roasted sprouts and onion and the apple adds its own tart sweetness. The feta adds an earthy tang and sour note that balances the sweetness perfectly, especially when brightened up by a bit of white wine vinegar.

 

Salad with Chicken, Grapes and Pear with Tarragon Pear Vinaigrette

Pear & Chicken Salad

I made the vinaigrette while chopping the ingredients for the salad.

In a small sauce pan, I added 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced. I let the onions sauté until they were tender. Meanwhile, I cleaned and chopped 4 leaves of romaine lettuce, 1 small stalk of celery, a handful of green grapes (1/2 or so) and about 1/2 cup of cooked chicken (removed from a roast I made earlier in the week).

I also chopped up a Bosc pear. It had ripened unevenly, so only a portion was ripe and the rest was not. This happened to inspire the dish. I had planned to just chop the pear up on the salad and add some oil and balsamic vinegar. But now I needed to do something with the stubbornly unripened part of the pear. I put the ripe chunks of pear on the salad. The rest I reserved for the salad dressing. I added a bit of pepper and finished up the vinaigrette.

So now my onions are nice and soft. I added the stripped off leaves from two tarragon stems. Then I added the chopped up pieces of pear. I let them sauté for a bit before adding the fresh-squeezed juice from 1 lemon and a bit of salt. I continued to let them simmer until tender and then mashed the pears up with my fork. I thought about pureeing the mix, but was too hungry to get my Magic Bullet out and puree. So, i just mashed a bit with a fork and added 2 TBSP of white wine vinegar – I went by taste more than volume, adding until it was light and fresh. Then, just for a bit of color and earthiness, i added about 1 tsp of finely chopped fresh parsley.

This is a subtly flavored vinaigrette. The pear adds a mellow sweetness, the onion a bit of heat, the lemon brightens it up and the tarragon is just heaven brought down to earth and infuse in a plant. The white wine vinegar just marries all those flavors into a wonderfully light vinaigrette. This made enough for 4 large salads, so i dressed the salad I made and stored the remaining vinaigrette for some more lovely salads.