Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

So, have you hopped on the kale bandwagon yet? If not, I have another delicious kale recipe to tempt you with… and this one has the added appeal of CARBS! If adding a bunch of bread to your vegetables doesn’t make them more appealing to you, then I have to assume you are broken, and I feel very sorry for you. (Kidding! I mean, I guess you don’t HAVE to love bread… but you probably should, I think.)

Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

ANYWAYS. The first incarnation of this recipe occurred a few weeks back. I was making some delicious grilled artichoke subs for dinner (recipe forthcoming!), and I ended up pulling the insides of my baguettes out, to make room for more artichokes. I could not, in good conscience, throw out perfectly good bread, so I was going to freeze it to make breadcrumbs with at a later date… but then it occurred to me that I could toast it up, and use it to make a panzanella salad! As luck would have it, I had a fresh bunch of kale in the fridge (it’s a staple – I ALWAYS have kale in the fridge), so I decided to make a kale panzanella. After a bit of tweaking, I’m finally ready to share the recipe with you!

Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
serves 2

one bunch lactinato kale*
3-4oz good bread, cut or torn into bite-size pieces**
half a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
fresh parmesan (not grated!)
3 T olive oil, divided
juice of half a lemon
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T whole grain mustard
1 T honey
kosher salt

Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

*I find that lactinato kale is the most palatable (texture-wise), especially if you’re trying it out for the first time. Lactinato kale (also called dinosaur or tuscan kale) has flat, broad, dark green leaves that are kind of pebbled in texture… most other varieties are lighter green, and curly around the edges. They all taste pretty much the same, in my opinion!

**You want to use a good, hearty bread for this salad; now is not the time for regular sliced bread. I prefer not to use the crispy crust of the bread (I would use a soft baguette, or a loaf of ciabatta or other good Italian bread), but you certainly can if you’d like to!

1.) Preheat your oven to 375°. Line a small baking sheet with foil, and spread your bread pieces out on it. Toss the bread with about a tablespoon of olive oil (I used my olive oil mister, and it worked nicely), and toast it in the oven until it’s golden brown and crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Allow the bread to cool slightly.

2.) While the bread toasts, prep your kale. Remove the leaves from the tough stems, and discard the stems. Stack all the kale leaves together, and use a sharp knife to cut the leaves cross-wise into 1/2″ strips. Wash and dry the kale as necessary (a salad spinner is optimal, here).

3.) Add the kale to a large bowl, and add one tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon juice, and a pinch of kosher salt. Use your hands to work the oil and lemon juice into the leaves, until they’re all thoroughly coated and beginning to soften, about a minute or two.

4.) For the vinaigrette, add one tablespoon each of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, whole grain mustard, and honey to a small bowl. Add a pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper, and whisk to combine.

5.) Pour the dressing over the massaged kale, and toss it with tongs to evenly distribute the dressing. Add the cooled bread, and toss it with the kale. Divide the kale and bread mixture in to two bowls, and then top with the cherry tomatoes and fresh shavings of parmesan.

Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

I have tried several different dressings with this particular salad, and this one was definitely the winner. It’s got a bit of sweetness, a little bite – and some texture from the whole grain mustard. I also really, really love the pairing of the hearty kale with the crispy bread… it just works! Of course, you could switch up the toppings of this salad however you like (olive, artichoke hearts, cucumber, bell peppers), but I love the sweet tomatoes and salty parmesan together. I promise this salad will make a kale lover out of the most ardent kale hater!

Kale Panzanella Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

And then you get to feel smug and virtuous all day, because YOU ATE KALE,


Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Honey and Whole Grain Mustard Glaze

Asparagus is one of those vegetables I’ve just never really loved. It’s okay, and I’ll eat it – and depending on the preparation, sometimes I’ll even LIKE it. But, I just can’t get excited about asparagus! I buy it occasionally (typically when I come across a nice-looking bunch of very thin stalks), and I usually roast it with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and kosher salt… but, the last time I brought some asparagus home, I decided to dress it up a little. As I tend to do, I surveyed the contents of the fridge, brainstormed a little, and came up with a new recipe to try.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Honey and Whole Grain Mustard Glaze

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Honey and Whole Grain Mustard Glaze
serves 2-4 as a side

one bunch of very thin asparagus, trimmed (about 30 stalks)
6 very thin slices of prosciutto
1 T whole grain mustard
1 T honey
1 T olive oil
kosher salt

1.) Preheat your oven to 400°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and place a baking rack inside the sheet. Divide the asparagus into 6 even piles, and wrap each one with a slice of prosciutto; lay the bundles seam side down on the baking rack.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Honey and Whole Grain Mustard Glaze

2.) In a small bowl, whisk together the whole grain mustard, honey, and olive oil. Lightly brush a thin layer of glaze over each bundle, then sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Honey and Whole Grain Mustard Glaze

3.) Place the asparagus in the oven; after about 10-12 minutes, take the bundles out and brush them with the remaining glaze. Roast for another 10-12 minutes, until the prosciutto is crisp, and the asparagus is lightly browned. I finished mine with about 90 seconds under the broiler, to get a little extra crunchy, delicious, golden brown-ness going on. Serve immediately.

If you have trouble getting your children (or yourself?) to eat green vegetables? Make these. Right away. As I mentioned before, I am not the world’s biggest fan of asparagus – and I am not kidding you, my husband and I ALMOST got into a fist fight over the last asparagus bundle. (We ended up splitting it, like civilized adults, but he gave me the half with the crispy tops, because he’s smart and he knows better than to make the cook angry.) The sweet/salty combination of the prosciutto and honey is spot on, and the mustard gives a little tang, and has an earthiness that pairs really well with the asparagus.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Honey and Whole Grain Mustard Glaze

These little bundles would be great for a dinner party – they’re fancy looking, delicious, and they take about 14 seconds to put together. Everyone wins!

Is it Friday yet??

Linguine with Kale Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Shaved Parmesan

Happy 2014! I apologize for the gaps in posting… like about half the country, Michigan got pounded with a few intense snowstorms over a span of 10 days, and then our temperatures plummeted for a while (on a Tuesday, our wind chill was -40° [yeah, you read that right]… 3 days later, on Friday, our high was 42°). Trying to accomplish everyday activities while fighting 2 feet of snow gets exhausting pretty quickly; and the crazy, intense cold lead to a lot of evenings where I refused to come out from under a pile of 7 blankets, for fear of frostbite. So, no posting. But, the weather has relaxed a little bit, the temperatures no longer begin with a negative sign, and I can once again feel my hands!

Linguine with Kale Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Shaved Parmesan

I realized a couple days ago that I had a giant bunch of kale wilting away in the fridge. It was definitely past its prime, and no longer good for salads. I’m not a huge fan of cooked greens, so I knew my options were limited… and suddenly, it occurred to me that kale would probably make a great pesto! I set about making a pesto with things I had on hand, and it turned out REALLY good. If you have yet to jump on the kale bandwagon, and you’d like to give it a try, this recipe would be an excellent jumping off point.

Linguine with Kale Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Shaved Parmesan

Linguine with Kale Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Shaved Parmesan
serves 4-6 as a main course, 8-10 as a side

1 lb linguine, cooked until al dente
2 cups of kale, packed (stripped of any stems)
good handful of fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed*
3 cloves garlic
juice and zest of one lemon
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
olive oil, approximately 1/2 cup
cherry tomatoes, halved

*You can use walnuts if you prefer. I actually intended to use walnuts, but then I realized I didn’t have any – and it was a happy accident, as I think the hazelnuts were really fantastic paired with the kale.

1.) Start by washing your kale, and drying it really well. Get your pasta water going (don’t forget to salt it very well before you add the pasta!), and cook the pasta as directed.

Kale and Hazelnut Pesto

2.) Add everything except the olive oil to a food processor, and pulse several times, until the mixture is well-chopped, but still a little chunky (make sure the hazelnuts and garlic cloves aren’t still in large pieces).

3.) Turn the processor on, and drizzle in about 1/3 cup of the olive oil. The amount of olive oil you’ll need will depend on the amount of moisture in your kale, how juicy the lemon was, etc. Keep drizzling olive oil (stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed) until the pesto has reached a good sauce-like consistency – a little loose, but not soupy.

4.) Pour the pesto into a large serving bowl; when the pasta is done, add it directly to the bowl full of pesto. Toss the linguine with the pesto – add a couple tablespoons of the starchy pasta water if the pesto isn’t coating the pasta well.

Linguine with Kale Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Shaved Parmesan

5.) Serve the pasta immediately, topped with shavings of fresh parmesan and the halved cherry tomatoes.

This pesto is SO DELICIOUS. It’s fresh, and light, but with a nice richness from the parmesan and hazelnuts. The lemon juice and zest keep the whole thing bright. It’s one of those rare dishes that feels hearty enough for a cold winter day, but would also make a really delicious cold pasta salad for a summer picnic. I’m debating how I’ll use the leftover pesto – I’m thinking I’ll either drizzle it over some roasted potatoes, or mix it with brown rice as a side dish!

Linguine with Kale Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Shaved Parmesan

I promise you, kale is seriously delicious!

Baked Potato Soup

Well, friends… 2014 is upon us. Crazy that yet another year has passed, isn’t it?! Regardless of your plans for this evening – whether you’re going to dance and drink the night away, or order some pizzas and watch a few movies, or crawl into bed at 9:30, waving goodbye to 2013 as you do – I feel like New Year’s Day is a day designed for laying around the house, being lazy, and relaxing. And what goes better with a day spent on the couch, than comfort food?? This baked potato soup is warm, and rich, and filling – and not terribly labor intensive, either. So, whip up a batch of this soup this evening, put it in the fridge – and then, when you roll out of bed around 11am tomorrow (or 6am, for those of you with kids – ouch), pop it back on to the stove to warm up while you dress yourself in your finest sweatpants and thickest, warmest socks. Relax, and enjoy!

Baked Potato Soup

Baked Potato Soup
serves 4-6

6 slices bacon
6 medium russet potatoes (about 2.5 pounds total), diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

Sour cream/greek yogurt
grated cheddar cheese
sliced green onions
hot sauce

Baked Potato Soup

1.) Chop the bacon into 1/2″ pieces, and add to a cold, heavy-bottomed pot. Place the pot over medium heat, and cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate with a slotted spoon, and drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.

2.) Add the carrots to the hot pot; allow them to cook for 3-4 minutes, until the edges are browned and the carrots are beginning to soften. Then, add the onion, and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Season with a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper.

3.) Add the potatoes and chicken stock to the pot, along with a heaping teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover the pot, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

4.) Once the vegetables and potatoes are nice and tender, you can either choose to leave the soup chunky, or to blend it; personally, I prefer to blend it. I use an immersion blender, but you can also transfer it in batches to a regular blender (be sure to leave at least 1/3 of the blender carafe empty to allow for expansion, and take the round disk out of the center of the lid; cover the hole with a dish towel).

5.) When you’ve blended the soup, return it to the heat; add the cream, stir to combine, and taste for seasoning. If it tastes a bit bland, you need more salt!

Baked Potato Soup

Portion the soup into bowls, and add your choice of toppings! I like to go with a classic baked potato style – greek yogurt, shredded cheddar, crumbled bacon, and some sliced green onions – but this soup is a great base for all kinds of additions. You could try some roasted broccoli and cheddar cheese, some bacon and pickled jalapeños, or whatever else you can dream up!

Soup and sweatpants: a marriage made in heaven,