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.


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


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?


Porter-Soaked Refried Beans

* Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook *

I’m not a big recipe repeater. My dinner cravings vary week to week, so I don’t often cook something more than once. Then, a few weeks ago, I had some leftover pinto beans from a pot I’d made, so I set out to make Mark Bittman’s Refried Beans recipe I’d been meaning to try. With what I had in my fridge (bell peppers, dark beer and half an onion), I cooked up my own version. The result was a flavorful—a combination of warm spices, rich beer and the smooth texture that defines the best kind of refried beans (in my eyes). And without overselling it, I’ll just say that I made a pot of pintos this week just so I could use the leftovers for this recipe.


¼ olive oil

4 cups cooked pinto beans

1 bell pepper, chopped

½ an onion, chopped

1 tablespoon of cumin

½ tablespoon of chili powder

¼ teaspoon of cayenne

kosher salt and freshly-cracked pepper

¼ cup of dark beer (such as a stout or porter), more as needed


Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan or skillet.

When the olive oil is hot, add the beans. Mash the beans with a potato masher or fork until they’re broken down and about 75% smooth, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the bell pepper and onion and stir thoroughly. Add the spices and the salt and pepper. Raise the heat slightly to medium high. Keep mashing the mixture until the vegetables have softened, about 5 more minutes.

As the mixture becomes dry, add the beer to achieve your desired consistency (I enjoy my refried beans pretty smooth).

Taste your beans, and adjust the spices to your preferences. Remove from heat, and serve.

Serving suggestions: Tucked in burritos, along side brown rice, with cilantro, Dabbed with salsa next to eggs for breakfast. Tonight, I piled them in homemade tortillas, topped with chard, cilantro pesto and hot sauce.

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.


  • 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


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.

Salad Nicoise-Vegetarian/Veganified

Ever have a fridge so full of produce you’re not sure what to do with it before it all goes bad? I may be alone here, but I sometimes get a little overzealous at the farmer’s market, imagining I’ll spend every upcoming meal in the kitchen.

Then someone offers to go to my beloved Tasty N’ Sons, or to it up a happy hour and down goes my plan.

Today, I had a pint of yukon gold potatoes, two extra early girl tomatoes, and some haricot vert I never used so naturally, I thought I’d make a Salad Nicoise.

Mark Bittman’s book Food Matters has a great version with optional eggs/tuna, so this is what I chose:


1/2 lb green beans, trimmed

1 pint small potatoes, halved (yukon gold, fingerlings, etc.)

2 tomatoes (I like Early Girls)

1/2 cup olive oil cured olives (I used Calamata)


1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

2/3 cup olive oil



3 tablespoons chopped parsley


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While you wait, trim green beans, halve potatoes and tomatoes, and put aside a large bowl of ice water (I like to keep mine in the freezer since my tiny kitchen heats up pretty quickly).

Drop beans into boiling water and let cook for 3 minutes. Remove from water with tongs/slotted spoon and place in ice water. Drain. Make a new bowl of ice water.

Add potatoes to still-boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Remove them the same way as the beans into the ice water.Drain.

Add beans,tomatoes, potatoes and olives into a big bowl.

Make the dressing by combining all ingredients in a small glass and whisking vigorously.

Take some of the veggie mixture and make yourself a plate or bowl and top with dressing. Reserve the rest of the dressing/veggies for another meal, and enjoy.

Do you ever make Salad Nicoise? Do you think it’s just wrong without eggs or tuna?

Italian Summer Essentials: Big Fat Italian Salad & Bruschetta

Find the original article here

There are some things you just keep returning back to, no matter how many summers pass. Italian food doesn’t have to be baked in the oven, topped with bubbling cheeses for a cold night (although those are nice, too).

Here are some of my favorite Italian meals for summer—enjoy one outside!

My Big Fat Italian Salad
Make this as the precursor to some lightly dressed pasta for a summer dinner or, as I like to have it, as a satisfyingly fresh lunch. You might add cannellini, kidney beans or fresh torn mozzarella for extra protein if desired.

1/2 cup of red cabbage
1/2 cup of spinach
2 heirloom tomatoes

2 anchovies
2 tablespoons of capers
1 spring garlic clove
1 teaspoon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Set up your mise en place: Chop the red cabbage into thin strips. Cut the tomatoes with a serrated knife by slicing off the top and placing it cut side down on the cutting board. Cut the tomato vertically, and then horizontally for bite sized pieces. Finely mince the garlic clove and set aside with dressing ingredients.

Put washed spinach, cabbage and tomatoes in a large bowl.

Next, rinse capers and anchovies and add them to a small bowl or drinking glass. Add mustard, olive oil, garlic clove, salt and pepper and whisk vigorously.

Dress the salad, drizzle balsamic over it straight from the bottle, and enjoy. Serves 1–2 people.

Winter variation: Toss in roasted red peppers (jarred or homemade), sub dressing for pesto.

Ultimate Bruschetta

First of all, let’s clear this up. Lots of people say “brew-shetta” to describe this deliciously tomato dish, but that just isn’t right. “Brew-sketta” is how it’s pronounced in Italian, and I encourage you to say it that way.

But let’s not get too serious—you’re about to be let in on quite the summer food secret. This makes a highly satisfying lunch or appetizer, but let’s face it, you’re not sharing this with anyone. How this recipe varies is the way the tomatoes are handled, but we’ll get there in a minute.

2–4 heirloom tomatoes, all colors, preferably from the farmer’s market
1 handful of fresh basil
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bread
Freshly ground pepper
2 slices of crusty bread—thick sourdough, ciabatta or Como from Grand Central Bakery are all good options
1 garlic clove

First, cut tomatoes the way stated in the first recipe, and place in a small bowl. Take basil leaves and tear with your hands and mix in with tomatoes. Add olive oil and pepper (you don’t want to add salt yet since that will cause the tomatoes to release their juices and you don’t want a watery bruschetta, do you?). Now the secret to this bruschetta is to let the tomatoes marinate with basil for a little while during the frying bread process.

Next, take your bread slices and drizzle with olive oil on both sides. Preheat a medium skillet to medium high and wait a few minutes until extremely hot. Add bread slices and lower the heat to medium, flipping when a nice brown color emerges.

When bread is finished, place on a plate and run the raw peeled garlic clove over each slice. The rough texture will act as a grater for the garlic. Use the entire thing if you love garlic, or less if it’s not your thing.

Top bread with tomato mixture and a dash of salt if desired, and enjoy!

Prosciutto e Melone
This is an Italian lunch classic, but it doesn’t really need much of a recipe. All you need is a good, sweet orange melon and some prosciutto de Parma (buy from the deli in slices, not by the pound and it will be cheap).

1/2 melon
3 slices prosciutto

Simply chop up the melon and lay the prosciutto on top, wrap it around melon slices, or pin it to tiny pieces with a toothpick if you’re serving it as an appetizer.

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.

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

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.