Autumn Greens Salad

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autumn-greens-salad

I’ve found that there are times when I just kind of go off salad. I think that’s an easy thing to do, because….well, it’s salad. It’s raw greens, some raw veggies—usually a cucumber that you’re not really that interested in eating but that you have in the fridge for some reason—and there’s dressing. Meh.

This type of thinking makes me die inside just the teeniest bit. I mean, I’m all about that health. I need zero convincing that a salad a day is key to all manner of wonderful processes getting fired up in the body: hearty elimination, antioxidants and enzymes from raw food doing all that scrubby work they do, detoxification on a manageable scale.

But I have to admit to succumbing more and more often to salad ennui. It’s cold out; I don’t want raw, crunchy stuff. It’s a pain in the ass to clean all those greens, even though some of them are already clean in the big ass clamshell that they came in because I bought them that way. I mean the laziness appalls me, particularly with my industrious northern European “me? have feelings instead of produce stuff?” upbringing.

I’m convinced one of the absolute best use of recipes is for salads, because I for one desperately need that little joggle to get me out of my rut. This little gem of an Autumn Greens Salad was adopted from this original version in the November 2018 issue of Cooking Light (different name there. I’m not being coy. My primary changes are in technique, but I pretty much thugged the ingredient list, though I played fairly dramatically with amounts. And it IS autumn, and these readily available ingredients in Michigan in November; at least, this year).

autumn-greens-salad-ingredients

Autumn Greens Salad: The Dressing

My primary change from the original is in constructing the dressing and the salad itself. I wanted to keep the olive oil separate here, so I measured off the amount into one good-sized bowl. Then I mixed everything in the main salad bowl, the one in which I’d toss the final assemblage of ingredients.

I chopped some garlic first, then salted it (you don’t need much). Initially,  I grated on just a smidge of orange zest (for photos I forgot that step). Then a little mustard and honey, and finally my acids: in this case, a tad bit of lemon juice and cider vinegar. I chose cider over rice vinegar as in the original because these greens are so sturdy and I like the complexity of the subtle apple flavor. Rice vinegar flavor is so subtle, I prefer it for more delicate greens. This is, alas, my native Californian palate talking, and may be a little over the top in the “Pretentiously Discerning Tastes” category. In other words, use the vinegar you have on hand. But if that’s balsamic, I’d skip the lemon juice.

autumn-greens-salad-dressing

Finally, I added the slivered raw onion and some chopped sour cherries. (The original recipe calls for Zante currants, but…like…what even are those?)

autumn-greens-salad-dressing

Let all of that sit while you go on to the next step.

Autumn Greens Salad: The Greens

I’ve said it approximately 8,000 times, which may surprise you given the low content on the blog: Massage raw kale. This step, mystifyingly, was left out of the original, like you’re just going to eat a bunch of torn kale, happily chomping away like some sort of hominid. I repeat: after destemming your kale, cut it in ribbons, then massage it by dropping it in that bowl where you put the olive oil. Rub the kale through your hands for about 2 minutes.

You’ll be adding this to the salad bowl on top of the dressing ingredients in a minute.

For your other greens: We had some really nice curly endive on hand from the farm. It’s unlikely you’ll find this is a box; rather, it’s going to come in a big old-fashioned head, probably a little (or a lot) dirty around the roots. Separate the leaves, wash it well—3 times is a good rule of thumb, but just keep dipping it in water until the water is completely clean. Spin it dry, wrap it in paper or cloth dish towels, put it in a big plastic bag, and you’ve got a pleasantly bitter green for a month.

I cut the endive in small pieces because, while not as sturdy as kale, it’s still pretty toothy.

Autumn Greens Salad: The Bling

I followed the original recipe by using both a blood orange and a navel orange. Grapefruit in combo or on its own would also work nicely. (Citrus with dark greens falls on the “food magic” continuum for me, something I just made up but that I think we need.)

Cut away the peel, rather than simply peeling it; this gives you something to hold onto when you cut out the sections. Put the round side in your hand, then very carefully, with a curved blade knife, remove the sections from the membranes. (Here’s my full tutorial on how to do this.) Cut the orange over the bowl with the dressing to capture that wee bit of juice that results. Add the oranges to the bowl.

Now, scrape the kale into the dressing bowl, using a spatula to make sure you get all the oil. Chopped endive goes on top. Then I throw on a handful of a baby green or two; we always have a big old clamshell of something. Arugula is my favorite, though I didn’t have any the day I made this.

Finally, I put fresh parsley leaves on top. Basil leaves are superb here, but I had fresh parsley and it worked nicely. Fresh herb leaves really make excellent salad greens, something I learned from Yotam Ottolenghi, who I think should be canonized or something. 

Finally, I tossed the whole thing. You may initially feel like you need more oil, but just toss for a good minute; there’s enough oil on the kale leaves that will eventually coat the other greens. Of course, I’m fond of a fairly light touch with oil, so do add more if you need it.

autumn-greens-salad

Shave some Manchego on top. You know what would also be good? Those Mercona almonds you get from Trader Joe’s. Yep, those are going on for Thanksgiving. But I didn’t have any. And it was still super yummy.

Autumn Greens Salad: The Recipe

quinoa crust quiche

Quinoa Crust Quiche

I love quiche—or at least, the idea of it. I order it when I go out and it usually delivers my requirements: buttery crust, eggy goodness, cheesy decadence. But when I’m honest, I know that most of those buttery crusts that I’m paying other people to fill came straight out of a package. Meanwhile, I have a perfectly fine, infinitely healthier alternative on hand. That big old package of quinoa calls my name. And one of the best ways to use it up is with a quinoa crust quiche.

quinoa crust quiche

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Why, you may ask, do I happen to have said gigantic quinoa package? Well, I’m not trying to be mean, but quinoa tastes weird. I always detect this odd, sort of dusty undertaste. I know it’s not this package either, or that it’s old, or any other explanation. Nonetheless, its nutritional perks are impressive. Protein-rich, fiber-rich, chockful of vitamins and minerals—read all about quinoa’s specific health benefits here, and check out Jennifer’s terrific blog while you’re at it. Also in its favor, quinoa morphs easily as a substitute for all kinds of grains, particularly those that are already fragmented into small pieces like cracked wheat and couscous.

As a pie crust substitute, it’s super easy and SO much healthier that it’s worth a try. Just be forewarned: You are not making something that will taste like a pie crust. A quinoa-crust quiche does not flake with buttery goodness. Rather, it sits on the plate as a hearty earthy base for all the eggy-cheesy-veggie goodness you want to throw in it. These items I had on hand just begged to be added to a tasty quinoa crust quiche.

quinoa crust quiche likes veggies

(I just realized I’m writing as if I’m Kathy Najimy’s character in The Fisher King. Is she the one responsible for that thing where we add a y to the end of basically every single word? If so, huzzah to you, Kathy.)

So with the quinoa crust, you gotta remember that weird quinoa flavor that you want to camo just a tad. That means that, at the very least, you need to cook the quinoa with salt (or the no-salt sub of your choice), preferably in broth rather than water. Once all the water’s cooked in—and do make sure the quinoa’s not wet at all—and the quinoa’s cooled, add an egg. But you can add even more flavor by sauteeing and adding an onion, or lots of chopped herbs, including scallions, and—most decadent of all—a big old handful of your favorite grated cheese.

Now, simply place the mixture into a pie pan that you’ve sprayed with no-stick, or oiled, or buttered; up to you. I like to take a piece of wax paper and use that to press the quinoa into shape…

quinoa crust quiche: use parchment paper to press evenly

…keeping it even on the bottom of the pan and nicely rising on the sides.

quinoa crust quiche, the crust ready to pre-bake Then bake, and voila. Your quinoa crust is about to become a quinoa crust quiche. I used this recipe from Clean Eating as my jumping off point. When I originally posted this recipe, I had broccoli, kale, and a bunch of mushrooms on hand and quite happy to jump into the pan.

quinoa crust quiche gets filled with a mix of vegetables

This week, I did a Skype cooking session with a pal, and we both realized we could pretty much use any vegetable-ish substance. For me, that was leeks standing in for the onions, dandelion greens, kale, and asparagus; for the last, I followed the advice of a couple of vintage cookbooks and peeled the stems, making the asparagus a lot more palatable. The first go-round, I placed the veggie mix directly into the crust….

quinoa crust quiche, ready for the milk cheese mixture

…then topped with an egg and cheese mix…

quinoa crust quiche gets a layer of egg and cheese filling

…and  then more cheese. (This is actually kind of a modest amount, but I have some in the crust and also some feta mixed into the eggs. Go as wild as you like.) By the way, the speckles are from the mustard I used.

Quinoa crust quiche before going into the oven.

Here’s that one finished:

Yesterday, I separated the eggs, whipping the whites to soft peaks. I mixed the yolks and cheese with the cooked veggies, then folded in the whites. Then pour it into the crust. I actually prefer this one, so have amended the recipe below to include it.

quinoa quiche

There you have it. You’ve used up some of that sad wallflower quinoa (to use my buddy Jenny Englander’s term), and you’ve got a healthy meal you can pack up for a road trip or nosh on at your desk. Some cherry tomatoes sparkled up both the visual and flavor palates. Enjoy with your own seasonal variations throughout the year.

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Quinoa Crust Quiche: The Recipe

roasted cabbage from Le Chou Fou

Roasted Cabbage

I do love my cabbage, which is obvious if you have a little high school French. (And if you haven’t, “chou” means cabbage and “fou” means crazy). It’s a simple, salt-of-the-earth veggie that grows absolutely everywhere. I predict it will soon overtake Brussels sprouts as the Next Big Veggie. And, as far as preparations go, roasted cabbage raises the ante considerably from the terrifying boiled cabbage of yore.

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four veggies, ready for roasting

Like all the other roasted veggies this week—kale, cauliflower, and carrots—roasted cabbage is ridiculously easy. Unlike them, cabbage takes on a decadent quality. Roasting brings out the cabbage’s sweetness. The fat that you use makes every bite feel sumptuous. The seasonings you choose up the ante a little more, though just salt and pepper work beautifully, too. I loved the seasonings in this recent Cooking Light recipe , though I did find working with softened butter to be a challenge. I recommend melting half the amount of butter, mixing with an equal amount of oil, then tossing the seasonings directly on top. It’s a lovely combo.

Also departing from most other vegetables, cabbage needs a little bit of extra love. Cut it in wedges; depending on the size of your cabbage, 4-6 is a good number per half of cabbage. As you can see from the photos here, I only had about a 1/4 wedge on hand, so I just cut it in 3 pieces. But don’t toss in the oil and spices with wild abandon. Rather, gently turn the cabbage in the fat. For extra-decadence, melt a little butter with the oil; cabbage and butter, like cabbage and pork, make each other very, very happy. A little sugar (I like coconut) adds some nice carmelization and a little more sweetness.

Roasted Cabbage prior to roasting

Then, place the wedges on a cookie sheet, and roast as usual. At the 20-minute mark, turn the cabbage carefully with a spatula. If you can keep the wedges at least somewhat intact, they work out to be excellently-sized portions. And even if they fall apart, you can still see the demarcation lines pretty clearly.

roasted cabbage from Le Chou Fou

Roasted Cabbage: The Recipe

roasted carrots from le chou fou

Roasted Carrots

Unlike so many vegetables, carrots sell themselves. They’re sweet, crunchy, and always the first thing to disappear on the crudité platter. I like them pickled and on hand to add to pretty much any handheld food. In fact, they satisfy so nicely raw, you might not consider cooking them. Roasted carrots may change that.
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I particularly like roasting (and pickling for that matter) when it comes to those bags of multicolored carrots. Truthfully, I’m not sure if it’s just me or if the lighter colored carrots, the yellow and white ones, really don’t have as much flavor as the orange and purples, but when I see them next to the dip, I avoid them. Not so when they’re roasted and tasty.

If you’ve been following the roasted vegetable posts over the last few days (including roasted kale chips and roasted cauliflower ), nothing here will shock you. Simply slice the carrots nice and thin; alternatively, you can leave them whole, in which case you’d roast them longer.

multicolored carrots, cut up and ready for roasting

Then toss with oil and seasonings, roast for 15 minutes, stir, test to see how much longer they need to cook, which might be 5 or 15 minutes.  Eat them hot or save to toss into things later in the week.

roasted carrots from Le Chou Fou

I like this recipe idea from the allrecipes print magazine; they toss roasted carrots with salad dressing, blue cheese, dried cranberries, and arugula. I just gave you the recipe, pretty much, but if you need exact amounts, their official roasted carrot salad recipe is at the link above.

Roasted Carrots: The Recipe

roasted cauliflower, delicious and easy to make

Roasted Cauliflower

I love cauliflower. Apparently, so do a lot of other people at this particular culinary moment. Like kale before it, it’s hot. Unlike Brussels sprouts after it, it’s versatile. A batch of roasted cauliflower keeps for several days, and in that time you can throw it into pretty much anything—a bowl, pasta, on a pizza, etc. And, as with all roasted vegetables, it’s easy, easy, easy.

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This cauliflower is hanging out with its roasting buddies. (And in case you want a different vegetable from this pic, here’s the recipe for Roasted Kale Chips.)

cauliflower waits to become roasted cauliflower

You can sub cauliflower for a huge mass of things. Paleo and ketogenic diets use it as a potato swap, though I will warn you that it won’t ever be as creamy as mashed potatoes. It makes an ok pizza crust as long as you don’t try to pretend it’s the real thing. I see it standing in for meat; cauliflower steaks pop up all over the place. That particular iteration strikes me as a little too trendy. I’m not a huge fan of the “let’s pretend this is something it isn’t” phenomenon when it comes to food. Just use the florets as nature intended, naturally bite-sized, without all this silly knife and fork biz.

As will all Roasted Vegetables, the process is ridiculously easy. Start by heating the oven to 400º. While it heats, cut the florets of the main cauliflower stem; many will be the right size, but some will be unweildy to stab and put in your mouth. Keep that in mind as you halve any giant florets. Put them in a bowl with some oil—you can use melted coconut, olive, or grapeseed—salt to taste, and the spice mix of your choice. I really like the Harissa blend from Whole Foods, but use whatever you want. cauliflower prior to roasting

Toss the florets well, lay them out on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Roast, then check after 20 minutes. Stir, then roast another 10-15 minutes. I like the florets beginning to brown, soft but still possessing some texture. The roasting brings out a wonderful sweetness.

I’m fond of having these on hand to add to whatever I’m eating that day. I’m equally fond of just noshing on them. Enjoy with a complete lack of guilt, because on the health front, cauliflower—with properties that fight cancer and inflammation and a load of vitamins and minerals—rocks.

roasted cauliflower after cooking

Roasted Cauliflower: The Recipe

roasted kale chips, the super keto snack

Roasted Kale Chips: The Perfect Keto Snack

Steve eats keto. I confess the concept leaves me cold. I don’t like nuts that much, and also I don’t think carbs are necessarily evil. Nonetheless, I get that carbs are very easy to overdo. Roasted Kale Chips cook up so damn easy, I wonder why I don’t always have them on hand. If you’re on a ketogenic diet, you just found your popcorn substitute.  (If you don’t know what I mean and would like to know more, here’s a good intro to ketogenic diets.)
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roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snack

Start by heating the oven to 400º. While it heats, tear the kale of the stem, then into small pieces. Put it in a bowl with some oil—you can use melted coconut, olive, or grapeseed—salt to taste, and the spice mix of your choice. I really like the Harissa blend from Whole Foods, but use whatever you want.

roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snack

Toss them well, lay them out on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Roast, then check after 20 minutes. The kale turns a nice bronzy color and shatters in your mouth.

roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snackSo much healthier than nachos, and to my palate, tastier. Cuddle up on the couch with these and the streaming video service of your choice. Know this caveat if you do sneak some roasted kale chips into the theater: When opening chips stored in an airtight bag (the best way to store them), a distinctly brassica odor  smacks you in the nostrils. In other words, they can be a tad bit stinky, but only when you first open the bag. Just know before you go.  roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snack

Roasted Cauliflower Chips: The Recipe