Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kale & Butternut Squash Salad: Massage Your Kale

That sounds naughty...right?

Like you, I resolve every year to eat a little better. And every year, I succumb to the Nutella-buttercream stuffed whoopie pie at the expense of, well, my waistline.

This year however, I'm off to a good start, especially since I stumbled up on a really delicious recipe courtesy of the lovely folks over at the fab Food 52. If you haven't had a chance to check it out, please do so. It's a wealth of cooking info and a great source for really good, solid recipes.

As I looked through the site hoping for some inspiration on cooking with winter greens, I found a kale salad recipe from a restaurant in NYC called Northern Spy. You can check out the original recipe here, along with a gorgeous pic of their finished product.

Even though the recipe looked pretty darn good, I did a little more research into eating raw kale and found that massaging the kale lends a little extra tenderness to the final dish; something I was all for, as I find raw kale to be a bit too bitter and tough for my personal taste.

So I did what any good cook loves to do, which is change the recipe about here and there to include a new technique and get a few ingredients swapped about. Make no doubt about it -- this is definitely a riff on an already excellent recipe by Northern Spy, with just a few changes, including the whole massaging thing. Which is really funny to write, and even funnier to say. That said, take a look and give it a try.

Kale & Butternut Squash Salad
serves 4

1 small Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 large bunch Kale, de-stemmed and cut into strips/bite-sized pieces (choose your variety; I'm finding the curlier edged stuff at my local grocery but would love to locate a bit of Dinosaur kale)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup toasted, chopped Hazelnuts
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, not shredded, but cut into small little bite-sized pieces
2 more tablespoons good quality Olive Oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Lemon Juice

Just look at this gorgeous kale! And yes, I did cut the squash smaller for roasting.
Preheat your oven to 450-degrees. Toss the butternut squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then sprinkle to taste with a little bit of salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, stir and toss, then roast an additional 15 minutes, until tender. Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, Place the kale in a large bowl. Sprinkle the 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt over the kale and begin to massage the salt into the kale, but not in a wussy, sad kinda way, but vigorously, twisting and turning to be sure to work the salt into the kale.

You'll start with this...

And end up with this...

This is where you'll notice, after a minute or two that you've lost quite a bit of volume in your kale, and that it looks a bit shinier and glossier. This is very good.

Add the cooled butternut squash, toasted hazelnuts, Parm, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and lemon juice, then toss really well to combine. Taste, then season with salt and pepper as you deem necessary. (Be sure you taste before adding the s&p, as you've already added salt to your dish when massaging the kale.)

Healthy, tasty, and truthfully, a total snap to prepare. Doesn't that look delicious?

Now, go forth and be healthy!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Food Resolutions 2012

Yup-that time of year again. This is the time where I beat myself about the head and shoulders, desperately hoping to improve myself food-wise for the coming months. Do you do the same?

I can always thing of things to improve myself overall (whoo boy can I think of things!!), but in 2012, I'm upping the ante. I taking it big. BIG I say. BIG.

Here's what I've got food-resolution wise, 2012:

  • Submit at least one recipe to the fab site Food 52, because they're where it's at for crowd-sourced cooking, and they have some excellent credentials plus a fab new cookbook you should check out
  • Relaunch my teen & tween cooking site, Gotta Break Some Eggs with a weekly schedule, new cooking videos and recipes, and a section just for teens & tweens to submit their own recipes & photos (On track for Feb 1 btw:)
  • Take better food pics with my terrific Nikon 5100
  • Continue to develop fun, new classes for The Kitchen Studio that people love and will help them learn in the kitchen and have a good time too
  • Make my own mayo more often, because it's awesome (and you can too, just look here)
  • Do more real food writing, including my regular monthly column and weekly blog for Chesapeake Family Magazine
  • And finally...eat more kale. No, really! I just did this whole thing on massaging kale to eat it in a raw salad, and it was pretty darn good. Pinky swear. :)

So now it's your turn. Any food resolutions 2012? I'd love to hear 'em. And Happy New Year!