Tangy Kale Salad With Dates & Toasted Nuts

This salad has become my go-to work lunch lately. It’s fast to prepare—you don’t even need to dirty a knife—it takes on additions well (sometimes I add garlic or anchovies), and it’s filling enough to hold me through the day.

I often switch out the toasted nuts for whatever I have on hand (walnuts, sliced almonds, slivered almonds, etc.). The only important part is that you toast the nuts. It doesn’t take long, just a few minutes in a skillet on medium low until they change color a bit and they start to smell delightful. Oh, and if you do decide to use minced garlic, go with half a clove—for the sake of your coworkers.

Ingredients

1/2 bundle of curly kale

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 tablespoons of wine vinegar (I like white)

10 or so toasted nuts (walnuts, sliced or slivered almonds, etc.)

5 pitted dates

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Method

Take the kale bundle and use your fingers to tear the leaves into bite sized pieces. Put all the pieces in a to-go container or the bowl you’ll be using.

Add the oil and massage it into the leaves with your fingers, then do the same with the vinegar. Do one tablespoon, mix, then the other.

Add the nuts (feel free to add beans here for more protein if you like), and then tear the dates into pieces and toss them into the mixture as well. Season aggressively with salt and pepper and let it marinate for a few hours if you can.

What’s your go-to packable lunch?

Quiche, Revised

Find my published version of this article in the Vanguard here

While quiche had its most glorified time in the ’80s, there is a reason why many home

cooks still are serving it up today. For me, it’s because my mother made a damn good one and it was the one of the first dishes I learned to cook. Others like it because of its simplicity: add vegetables and meat, cream, herbs and lots of eggs in a pie shell—45 minutes later, you have silk custard on a buttery crust.

While I still agree with this mindset, I recently set out to revamp my trusted quiche recipe so I can use up more of the vegetables that seem to pile up in my fridge at the end of the week. I cut down on cream and eggs to make more room for vegetables, which allows for more texture contrast in the filling. I still use a premade crust (though without a bunch of artificial ingredients in the list) for time’s sake, but if baking is your thing, by all means make your own.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 large leeks, cleaned and sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup Gruyere, grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 3/4 cup chopped herbs (I used thyme, parsley and chives)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pie crust (I like whole wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Method

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Bring the olive oil to medium heat in a large skillet. When it’s hot, add the asparagus and leeks. Sauté until the asparagus is tender and the leeks are soft, about 8–10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix half and half, eggs and cheese in a small bowl with a fork or whisk. Whisk until the mixture is uniformly yellow. Stir in the herbs, salt and pepper.

Spread the mustard across the bottom of the piecrust so it’s an even layer. Next, add the vegetables, and top with the egg mixture. Bake for 30–40 minutes or until a toothpick or fork comes out clean.

Soba Noodles With Cilantro Pesto, Mint, and Spinach

find my original article here

As the weather heats up (it will eventually, right?) our tastes for dinner may shift from

Photo by Karl Kuchs

rich, meaty casseroles to lighter fare. The following recipe is quick to pull together with a little help from store-bought cilantro pesto (I like Pesto Outside The Box at the PSU farmers market), and it is still incredibly flavorful. If you have more time, make your own pesto: blend one bundle of cilantro, 1/4 cup walnuts or pistachios and 1/4 cup of olive oil until chunky. Then fold in 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan and proceed with the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 package soba noodles or whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
  • 2 cups spinach, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cilantro pesto
  • 2 tablespoons mint, torn into pieces

Method

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Meanwhile, place edamame in a small bowl or mug and cover with about one cup of water. Microwave the edamame on high until soft, about three to five minutes.

When the water is boiling in your saucepan, add the soba noodles and cook according to package directions. You will know your noodles are done when they are floating at the top of the pot—careful, soba cooks a little faster

than pasta.

When the edamame are done, drain in a pasta strainer. Drain the cooked soba noodles in the same strainer. Rinse the noodles in lukewarm water so they cool a bit, and spread the noodles with your fingers to prevent clumping.

Next, take a large bowl and add half the spinach. Toss in the soba noodles and edamame and then half the pesto with tongs. Sprinkle in the torn mint and toss again. Then add the rest of the spinach and pesto and toss once more so everything is evenly coated with pesto. Serves one to two people.

Herbed Angel Hair With Green Garlic

see my original recipe  here

One of the benefits of living in Portland is having access to an

Photo by Karl Kuchs

array of farmers markets—we have one in almost every section of the city! And as spring trickles in slowly, so do interesting products at the market. Green garlic is one item that has appeared recently. While it may look like a bundle of scallions, the fresh herb is all garlic. Cook them as you would a leek or shallot by slicing them thin crosswise, or get creative and shave them into pasta or with other shaved vegetables (like asparagus). If you can’t find green garlic, regular garlic can be substituted—just use one minced clove and cook it about two minutes longer than the recipe states.

This pasta dish is simple enough to serve as a side dish next to vegetables or a protein, but has enough of its own flavor to stand on its own as a light herby lunch. I used fresh cappellini (also known as angel hair), but dried pasta would work just as well.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of angel hair or  cappellini pasta, fresh or dried
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 stalks of green garlic, chopped crosswise
  • 1/4 cup of chopped mixed herbs (such as chives, parsley, mint or basil)
  • 1/4 cup Parmegiano-Reggiano, grated

Preparation

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Place a small or medium skillet over medium-low heat. When the skillet is hot, drop in the butter and swirl with a spatula. When the butter begins to melt, about three minutes, add the green garlic and toss. Let the garlic cook for another minute, then add in the rest of the herbs. Bring the skillet to a low heat.

Once you’ve brought the skillet to low heat, add the pasta to the saucepan of boiling water. Cook for 6–10 minutes, watching carefully since thin pasta cooks rather quickly.

After pasta is cooked and drained, toss with the herb butter and dust with the grated Parmesan. Serves 1–2 people.

Blades of Grass Asparagus Salad

See my original recipe here

photo by Karl Kuchs

With the recent arrival of the farmers market in my neighborhood, I know many will be taking home green stalks of asparagus to roast away in the oven, as we all seem to do every spring. However, why not update the classic dish?

Shaving asparagus changes the texture to thin whispers of freshness that look beautiful in the bowl. To shave them, simply hold each asparagus by its woody end and use a vegetable peeler to shave strands away from your body. The textures will vary, but shoot for thicker stalks in this recipe since they give the opportunity for more salad. As for the fennel in this recipe, you can use a vegetable peeler as well—though you’d want to shave towards your body instead—or simply slice thinly with a knife or mandoline. This salad is a great light lunch or one can serve it under scallops or chicken breast for a pretty spring dinner.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of walnuts
  • 1/2 bundle of asparagus
  • 1/4 of a bulb of fennel
  • 2 tablespoons of mixed minced herbs (chives, parsley
  • and mint are a nice combination)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel fronds
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place walnuts on a baking sheet and let them toast while you prepare the other ingredients.

Shave the asparagus stalks and add to a bowl. Thinly slice or shave the fennel and add to the same bowl.

In a small cup or bowl, add the herbs and fennel fronds. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking with a fork until the mixture is well combined. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.

Remove the walnuts from the oven after 6–8 minutes, or when warm and slightly toasted.

Add the walnuts to the salad and toss in the dressing with tongs. Serves 1–2 people.

How to you like to cook your asparagus?

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote


I’m a little recipe happy today, so here’s another! Since moving into my own apartment that is literally upstairs from the PSU Farmer’s Market, I have been exploring new ingredients. So last week I picked up a couple fuschia colored stalks of rhubarb, and then realized I had no idea what to do with them. Often, you see compotes, crisps and pies marrying the tartness of rhubarb and sweetness of strawberries. I thought a compote would be a nice way to top my morning pre-Zumba oatmeal, so I gave it a shot. You could also use this compote on top of ice cream, farina, or polenta. Feel free to sub out the brown rice syrup for honey or sugar.

Ingredients
1 cup of strawberries, hulled and chopped in quarters
2 stalks of rhubarb, cut into one inch pieces
1/4 cup of brown rice syrup (or honey, sugar, etc)
the juice from half a lemon

Method
Cook rhubarb and syrup in a small saucepan over medium high heat until tender, around 6-8 minutes. Add strawberries and cook over medium heat, letting the strawberries soften as well.When mixture resembles a jam of sorts, take off heat and add lemon juice.Mint might be a nice addition if you had it.
Serves 2-3 people.

Sping on a plate


**recipes as previously published in the daily vanguard**

Hello! I know it’s been awhile, and I apologize. I went on a mental and physical vacation to my hometown in Sonoma County, California. Meyer lemons, beautiful family, and 75 degree weather made it extremely hard to bring myself back to Oregon, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Another event that occurred on my vacation was a visit to Michael Chairello’s restaurant, Bottega in Yountville. I don’t review restaurants on my blog but this may have been some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had.
My main course was a pan-fried gnocchi with a heaping serving of spring vegetables and a creamy fonduta sauce. The colors on the plate were electric greens and oranges and the tastes were so fresh you’d think the veggies were picked that morning.
Here is my inspired recipe from the dish, minus the Fonduta add creamy goat cheese crumbles (a favorite ingredient of mine).
And following that, I have artichoke my way, a seasonal and fun food to eat. As Mr. Chiarello says,Buon Appetito.

Shells and spring veggies
Feel free to add any of your favorite spring vegetables—sugar snap peas would work well here also.

Ingredients
1 leek, cleaned and sliced into half moons
6 medium sized carrots (green tops removed) cut into slices
4 tablespoons of garlic and chive pesto (purchased from Pesto Outside The Box, a vendor at the PSU Farmer’s Market)
1 cup of whole wheat or regular shell pasta
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Zest from one Meyer lemon
2 tablespoons of goat cheese crumbles
Sprinkle of salt
Dash of fresh ground pepper

Method
Bring a medium saucepan filled with water and a sprinkle of sea salt to a boil.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet to medium-high heat, add olive oil.
When olive oil is hot, add carrot slices. Sprinkle with salt, grind pepper and let the carrots cook in oil for a few minutes.

Add pasta to water and cook according to package directions.
Next, add leeks to skillet, stir with spatula and add spices as needed. Sauté for 8–10 minutes at medium heat.

When pasta is ready and carrots are crisp tender, mix the pasta into the skillet.
Add pesto, goat cheese crumbles and zest.
Serve with lemon slices, serves 1–2 people.

Artichoke with lemon dill crema
This is a classic preparation of a vegetable that’s as fun to eat as it is tasty. If serving with pasta, make sure to start the artichoke earlier than the pasta. They often take a long time to become tender.

Ingredients:
1 artichoke, trimmed of dirty leaves and stem removed
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
Crema:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons of dill
Juice from one Meyer lemon
1 teaspoon of honey

Method
Place a few inches of water in a medium saucepan. Place garlic, bay leaf, and vinegar in water and let it come to a boil.

Place steamer basket above water, and place artichoke in, stem up.
Place lid on pan and let simmer for 20–40 minutes.
When leaves can be removed easily with a fork, the artichoke is ready. Serve with lemon dill crema.

Crema:
Mix yogurt, honey, lemon juice and dill in a small bowl. Serve with artichoke for dipping.
Serves 1–2 people.