Tag Archives: Soups and Salads

Creamy kale and grapefruit salad with garlic tahini dressing

Since many of us are making resolutions to commit to a healthier lifestyle, I thought I’d share a tasty way to put a little more kick in your kale salad.

Kale-Salad-2

Last year, something clicked and I determined that I absolutely loved kale. Prior to that, it was only a fibrous and bitter leaf and the butt of my jokes. “No one actually likes kale. They just eat it out of a sense of responsibility to their body or the clean eating culture or whatever cause it may possibly represent.” I was one of them. I even blogged about kale chips! I still stand by them, but let’s face it, it’s not the same as a carb-loaded potato chip.

What changed? I’m not sure. It’s likely I was eating it wrong many years. Being stubborn without cause, I kept chewing through it and eventually found a few ways to make kale a lot more enjoyable.

  • Massage it – Before I tried massaging the leaves, I didn’t think it would really make that much of a difference, but it does! If your kale is too tough, throw a few drops of olive oil into the leaves and massage it for a few minutes with your hands.
  • Dress it – With kale, you can’t dip your fork into a side of dressing before eating the leaf. This kind of goes along with massaging it, but the kale leaf needs to be sufficiently covered with a dressing, even if it’s just balsamic vinegar. It helps soften and moisturize the leaves while making it more palatable.
  • Dry it – My salads improved immensely when I bought a salad spinner. It’s hard to get all of the water out of the curly kale leaves, but the spinner leaves them crisp and dry.
  • Top it – I’ve found that the toppings make all the difference. First, add fruit. Fruit isn’t too common in the traditional iceberg and romaine salads, which are usually filled with cheeses and vegetables. But I think fruit is definitely a “must” when it comes to kale. It’s soft and adds a bit of juice. Additionally, it adds sweetness to offset some of kale’s bitterness. I also like to add nuts in my salads to give it a crunch. Adding anything to change the way the salad feels in your mouth will enhance its flavor.
  • Go for something different – Don’t be afraid to try something that you wouldn’t ordinarily add in a salad. I hesitantly added a raw egg yolk in this recipe (my favorite!) and it was amazing! I experienced reluctance with the grapefruit and fennel in this recipe and was pleasantly surprised.

Kale-Salad-3

I first tried this salad over the Thanksgiving holiday. Ryan’s sister prepared it for us and I have to say, I was reluctant. While I’m usually pretty enthusiastic about kale, I’m definitely less so about grapefruit and fennel. You know how I said I used to joke that no one likes kale? Well, I strongly believe that no one can possibly like grapefruit.

But the flavors really come together in this salad. The grapefruit bursts with juice as you bite down, but it’s mellowed out by the creamy tahini. There’s definitely a lot of bitterness in this salad, but it’s not overwhelming and very pleasant to eat.

Kale-Salad-1

Creamy Kale and Grapefruit Salad with Garlic Tahini Dressing
 
Prep time
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Makes enough dressing for one bunch of kale and serves 4 – 6
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Yields: 4 - 6
Ingredients
For the Dressing
  • 1 – 2 Cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp of water
For the Salad
  • 1 ruby red grapefruit
  • 1 bulb of fennel or small red onion
  • 1 bunch of kale (lactino or curly)
  • Toasted pine nuts (optional)
Instructions
For the Dressing
  1. Create the dressing by whisking together the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt and pepper.
  2. Add the oil by slowly drizzling it into your tahini mixture as you continue to whisk.
  3. Whisk in a tablespoon or two of water to thin out your mixture. You can do this as needed, if you find the mixture is too thick to cover completely cover the salad.
For the Salad
  1. Wash the kale and remove the ribs. Tear the kale into bite-size pieces. If you’re using lactino kale, consider slicing them a little thinner.
  2. Peel and slice the grapefruit into chunks removing any seeds or pith.
  3. Thinly slice the fennel bulb or red onion.
  4. Combine all of these ingredients into a large salad bowl
  5. Pour the dressing over the kale salad, making sure to cover all of the leaves.
  6. Serve with toasted pine nuts.

 

Kale-Salad-4

I had to use a red onion because I didn’t have any fennel on hand, but they are both delicious. I promise this will not disappoint!

So what about you? Do you like kale? What’s one food that you can’t believe people eat?

summer peach salad

I’ve been away for a few weeks, settling into the new home and neighborhood. For the past few weeks, the only cooking we’ve been doing has been on the grill. Otherwise, we’ve been exploring the amazing selection of restaurants around here.

Summer Peach Salad

This weekend, we went on an impromptu date to the little Italian restaurant down the street, enjoying the restaurant’s quiet and tree-filled backyard. The sun was setting and heat dissipating, leaving cool and breezy air behind. We lingered for a while, with nowhere to go and nothing to do.

I ordered the peach salad, expecting the usual tiny slices of peach over a bed of greens but was delightfully surprised when I received a plate full of large, crunchy peach slices, no greens, and a huge slab of parmesan. The combination was entirely satisfying.

Summer Peach Salad

The next day, I  ran out for some peaches and re-created the salad. I’m already fairly certain this will be at the top of my summer salad list. By the middle of summer, I’m usually sick of salads loaded with greens and am ready to switch it up.

Summer Peach Salad

I recommend just-ripe, or slightly under-ripe peaches for this recipe. It gives the salad a great crunch. I don’t think it would be the same if the peaches are too ripe and soggy.

summer peach salad
 
Prep time
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Author:
Cuisine: Salad
Yields: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 peaches, peeled, pitted and just ripe
  • 1 oz. hard parmesan, thinly sliced or grated
  • 1 sprig of parsley or mint, chopped
  • thick balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. Peel and slice peaches in large, thin pieces
  2. Top peaches with parmesan and parsley
  3. Drizzle with thick balsamic vinegar, to taste

This salad feels so fancy. It would make a great addition to a picnic or lunch.

Peach Salad

Save this recipe! Pin it here!

four-ingredient-summer-peach-salad

summer favorite: tofu garlic dressing

Since bathing suit season is almost here, I have been thinking a lot about what I used to eat in the summer. I have to say goodbye to the warm baked foods that kept me warm and sane in the winter. Now it’s time to think about foods that fuel summer playtime, runs in the sun, and long days. Salads aren’t my obvious choice, but this dressing is packed with enough protein to keep you going without weighing you down with heavy carbs.

tofu garlic dressing

I’ve been a vegetarian since high school. Back then, the only food I could eat in the cafeteria came from our salad bar. So every day I ate shredded iceberg lettuce piled high with yellow fake cheddar, ranch dressing, and croutons. Sometimes I added carrots if I wanted to make it “healthy.” After eating that every day, it took me years before I could eat another salad.

But now I’m back to eating salads, in a very grown-up way. I’m looking at you arugula and ohmygod chickpeas in salads – incredible.

tofu garlic dressing 2 (1 of 1)

My first lesson in “grown-up salads” was making your own salad dressing. A lot of restaurant salads taste amazing because they don’t used bottled salad dressing. They make their own.  Lately, I’ve been mixing tarragon vinegar, olive oil and these spice blends for a quick, incredible dressing.  But this dressing adds a little more protein in my lunches to keep me fuller.

tofu garlic dressing

So creamy. So garlicky. So wonderful.

Instead of using milk or cream, this uses soft tofu to give it a smooth, creamy texture. Store this in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks, but it’s usually gone before then.

tofu garlic dressing
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: dressing
Ingredients
  • 14 oz. soft tofu
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ¾ medium yellow onion
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil or 2 tsp of dried basil
  • a few grinds of black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Yields 8 oz.

You can also use this as vegetable dipping sauce or top over brown rice bowls.

butternut squash soup + food blogging thoughts

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Brooklyn had its first snow last week! The snow was brief, but beautiful. Since I grew up in Florida, this was my first “first snow.” I may have been a bit too enthusiastic about it (I’m sorry everyone who got my crazy emoji text messages). It’s officially cold and people are preparing for the holidays. There are so many beautiful Christmas trees in Manhattan. And I’m filled with love and excitement for this time of year.

That is, until I realized my heat hasn’t turned on today. So the novelty is wearing off. And this is only the beginning. I have another five months of cold weather. So, I did what any person preparing for a long winter would do. I went out and bought tons of scarves and booties. Then I made this soup.

It’s no secret that I love butternut squash. It is the superior squash. And while I may have a minority opinion on this, I still believe pumpkins are best left for carving. Not eating. So, when I saw a recipe for butternut squash soup, I went for it, lamenting that I don’t have an immersion blender. Ladling soup into a food processor is just such a mess.

butternut-squash-soup-2

 

This soup is creamy, sweet, and full of spice. It’s perfect for a cold day. Top it with raisins and pecans to add some crunch.

butternut squash soup
 
Prep time
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This butternut squash soup uses creamy coconut milk, roasted red pepper and apples to give it a sweet and savory, creamy taste.
Author:
Recipe type: soup
Yields: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 red pepper, roasted
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large butternut squash, cubed and diced
  • 1 apple, cored and diced
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • ½ tbsp tumeric
  • ½ tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinammon
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
Instructions
Roasted Red Pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the red pepper in half and remove the seeds
  3. Rub the pepper with olive oil.
  4. Place the pepper face down on a baking sheet covered with aluminum
  5. Cook on each side for about 10 minutes, or until the skin starts to turn brown.
Butternut Squash Soup
  1. Heat the coconut milk and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Add the yellow onion and cook for 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
  3. Add add the chopped butternut squash,apple, curry, turmeric, cumin, salt, garlic, and cinnamon to the mix.
  4. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the butternut squash and apple are soft.
  5. Mix in the the peanut butter and let it cook for another five minutes.
  6. Ladle the mix into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Or alternately, use an immersion blender.

 

Truthy Stuff:

I made this soup two weeks ago but was very reluctant to put it on my blog. I don’t talk much about my efforts to be a better writer or a better photographer on AWFT, but feelings of “not good enough” are certainly a major reason why I don’t blog more. And while I’ve absolutely come a long, long way in my photography, (I can’t believe I’m even showing you those), I still feel like it’s not good enough. If the food tastes great, but the photos are ugly, who’s going to want to cook it?

I always feel uninspired when I photograph anything in bowls. I just don’t know how to make it come alive. Sure, I could buy a bunch of interesting, colorful bowls, but I struggle to maintain some type of minimalist lifestyle, which doesn’t exactly jive with food props. You may notice that all of my bowls and plates are white. I like to eat off of white plates, exclusively. So, it never really makes sense to buy anything else. But, growing my food photography craft is important to me. And I wonder how much is it suffering because I practically refuse to buy cute props. Does anyone else have this problem?

Anyway, now that I’ve realized this, I’m going to try not to let it hold me back, or keep me from posting. My goal for this blog has never been to feel inferior because of financial logistics or lack of consumer goods. Indeed, when I first started blogging, I would never have known what to do with a food prop.

And I have gotten better. Loads better. Not only has my photography improved leaps and bounds, but my recipe writing, blog writing, and even social media engagement are also more developed . And that makes me happy. After all, I do this because it’s fun. I enjoy it. I enjoy the challenge of cooking, of styling food, and the challenge of  improving.

I enjoy connecting with people, with other bloggers. Most importantly, I like learning from other bloggers and being able to share recipes and my life with you. So, thank you for your continued support and visits to my blog. You make it all worthwhile.

maple miso dressing

maple miso

Maple miso should be right up there with peanut butter and jelly and mac and cheese. It’s a perfect mix of salty and sweet. This was my first attempt at a homemade, just throw some stuff together dressing. The salad I create with it feels incredibly gourmet. But I pretty much always feel gourmet when I add fruit to my salads.

maple miso dressing
 
Prep time
Total time
 
yields: ½ cup dressing
Author:
Recipe type: salad dressing
Ingredients
  • 1 & ½ tbsp. miso
  • ¼ cup brown rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Whisk all ingredients together until well combined.

Serve with a spinach or spring green mix, slices of granny smith apples, and honey roasted anything.

salad

This dressing is packed with flavor, so don’t over-do it. I only used two teaspoons or so on my salad.

vegetarian pineapple chili

I got a slow cooker for Christmas and wanted to give it a go. This pineapple chili and it was a hit with the non-vegetarian crowd.  It’s probably one of my favorite chilis I’ve ever made.

I like to sauté the onion, garlic, and pepper before I throw it in the slow cooker all day, but this part is optional.

vegetarian-pineapple-chili-Final

Adding a bit of sweet to a spicy chili is one of my “tricks” with winning over the meat eaters and convincing them that a vegetarian chili is the way to go.  This citrus in the pineapple gives the chili a bit of coolness, even though when you’re biting into it, it creates a juicy, hot explosion in your mouth.

ingredients:
1 1/2 cups dry red beans
1 1/2 cups dry black beans
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
4 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp hot sauce
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 medium green bell pepper
1 medium red bell pepper
1 small can crushed pineapple

directions:
1. In a colander, rinse your beans and pick out any debris, broken beans, or beans without skins.
2. Boil the red beans first. red beans contain a toxin that isn’t destroyed in a slow cooker. Boil your red beans for 10 minutes before putting them in a cooker.
3. After you’ve prepped your beans, add them to the slow cooker with two teaspoons of salt.
4. Cover the beans with water. Make sure there are two inches of water covering the beans. Turn your slow cooker on high and let it cook for four hours. Stir every hour.
5. After four hours, the beans should be softening. Add the cumin, chili powder, cayenne, red pepper, chili powder, hot sauce, and tomatoes.
6. Turn your slow cooker on Low.
7. Prep your other ingredients. Chop your onion, red pepper, and green pepper. Heat some oil in a cast iron skillet and sauté the ingredients with the garlic until they’re tender. Add to slow cooker.
8. Cook on low for another two hours.
9. Before you serve, pour in the can of crushed pineapple. Garnish with sour cream and cheddar.

slow cooker

coconut curry soup recipe

I really wish they made scratch and sniff blogs, because my house smells amazing right now. It’s been cold and drizzly all day, so I made soup to perk myself up. Hello, dinner.

coconut-curry-soup

It’s a coconut curry soup. It originally started out as The 30-Minute Vegan’s Thai Coconut Soup, but once I realized it lacked curry, I decided to make it my own. Plus, I really didn’t have all of the ingredients to make it “Thai.”

Coconut Curry Soup

Yields: 6
Prep & Cook time: 30

Ingredients:
3 cups vegetable stock
1 14 oz. can of coconut milk
2 Tbs. curry powder [I probably added a lot more than this, I love curry.]
1 Tbs. ground ginger
1 tsp. red pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 Tbs. minced garlic
1 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups chopped bok choy
1 pkg. (8 oz) firm, chopped tofu
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. agave nectar
2 Tbs. chopped, fresh basil
3 Tbs. soy sauce [to taste]

1. Combine the veggie stock, coconut milk, and spices in a stock pot over medium heat. Bring to a slight boil.
2. Add the yellow onion and garlic. Let simmer for five minutes. While this is simmering, you can prepare the next ingredients.
3. Add in the broccoli and chopped bok choy as they are chopped.
4.  Add the tofu and lemon juice. Let this cook for about fifteen minutes. Vegetables should be tender.
5. Finally add in the agave, basil, and soy sauce [to taste].

Soup for dinner isn’t exactly considered filling, but this is a very hearty soup. It could also be served over basmati rice.

Enjoy!