Sauteed Kale

Give me a “K”!

Give me an “A”

Give me an “L”

Give me an “E”

What’s that spell???

KALE!!!

Kale smoothies, kale soup, kale chips…kale is everywhere these days. It’s the latest icon of super healthy, nutrient dense food–but that’s only because it is one. If you don’t like it, it’s likely you haven’t had it prepared really well. It can be bitter, tough, and frankly over powering. But prepared well it’s delectable.

…I confess there was a time when I did not like kale. And I confess that as a child I preferred iceberg lettuce… But there came a day, while driving home, thinking about the kale salad waiting for me in the fridge, that my mouth literally started to water. And I knew then that there was no going back.

I don’t eat it every day, nor do I advise doing so. Too much of anything, even a good thing, isn’t wise. But I had some today and it was D E L I C I O U S !

 

Mise en place (everything in place) before getting started. Garlic chopped, kale washed and torn, salt, vinegar and oil at hand.

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Preheat the pan. Not too hot or the garlic could burn. I don’t use olive oil at this point; I use coconut or rice bran oil because they have higher smoke points. I save the good olive oil for the end. Into the pan goes a teaspoon or two of oil plus, in this case, 5 cloves of chopped garlic.

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Garlic is just starting to brown so in goes the kale!

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A few minutes of tossing it around and it starts to wilt.

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Time to season with good salt and balsamic vinegar. The salt and sour flavor of the vinegar with just a hint of sweetness balance out the bitterness of the greens. Without them this would be a very different dish. After I turned of the heat I drizzled it with high quality olive oil.

 

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And two eggs over easy made this a balanced, positively divine lunch.

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Tasso And White Bean Gratin

This bean recipe sounds too good not to share. (Thank you Rancho Gordo for putting it where I could find it.) I’ve had beans on the brain today as I searched for fast and easy healthy recipes. Earlier I found a wonderful one for marinated white beans perfect for antipasto. (More on that later.)

This recipe though, is especially wonderful because of the chicken soup. In my world, that means nutrient dense, body healing, bone strengthening, bone broth. It would be a simple matter to make it dairy free and gluten free, is so desired, by substituting 2 ingredients. Gluten free panko bread crumbs are fairly easy to find, as is non-dairy Parmesan.  Put that all together and this recipe deserves an A++ for nutritional value.

Tasso and White Bean Gratin
from Down South by Donald Link (© Clarkson Potter)
Serves 8 to 10
3 cups dried white beans, like Royal Corona or Cassoulet
¼ pound tasso, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken broth
1  teaspoon kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil

Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover them by at least 3 inches. Rinse and drain well.
In a large skillet, render the tasso in the butter over medium-high heat until just crispy. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring, until they start to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the thyme, bay leaves, chicken broth, and white beans and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the broth simmers gently.

Cook the beans until they are completely tender, 35 to 45 minutes. This time will vary with the age of the dried beans. Season with ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper.
While the beans finish cooking, heat the oven to 450F.

Meanwhile, mix the panko with the parsley, cheese, olive oil, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Pour the cooked beans into a 9x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the beans and bake until the crumbs are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Easy Sweet Potatoes

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes may be one of nature’s unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene with a superior ability to raise our blood levels of vitamin A. This benefit may be particularly true for children. They come in many colors and varieties, all of which are nutritional goldmines. It’s important to have some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of this root vegetable.

(FYI: A true yam is a root vegetable belonging to the Dioscorceae family. Sweet potatoes belong to the Convolvulaceae family. It is sweet potatoes we find in the grocery stores although the long orange flesh varieties are often called yams anyway.)

Method #1 My absolute favorite way to make sweet potatoes (and I do prefer the orange flesh varieties for this one) is to scrub them well and put them in a 350 oven for 1.5 hrs. until they are soft all the way through. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store them uncovered in the refrigerator for up to a week. They taste like candy and can be eaten as a snack or as a side to any meal.

That almost isn’t a recipe. See, I told you it was easy.

Method #2 My second favorite way to make sweet potatoes is to peel them and cut them into 3/4″ chunks. Toss them lightly with olive oil and spread them in a baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes in a 375 oven. This is a better method when you have to get diner on the table in a hurry. Store the leftover in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge.

Some nutritional benefits from sweet potatoes simply may not be achievable unless you use steaming or boiling as your cooking method. Recent studies show excellent preservation of sweet potato anthocyanins with steaming, and several studies comparing boiling to roasting have shown better blood sugar effects (including the achievement of a lower glycemic index, or GI value) with boiling.

Method #3 This may well be the most nutritious of the 3 methods. Peel and chunk the sweet potatoes. Place chunks in a steamer basket above an inch of rapidly boiling water. Cover tightly and cook for 5-7 minutes or until chunks are soft enough to pierce easily with a fork.

And when picking out your cranberries, be SURE to get organic! Find out why.

ENJOY!

Chickpea Salad; A Perfect Pantry Recipe

The term “salad” does not do justice to this delicious, warm dish. It is tasty, tangy and full of the flavors of the Mediterranean. You could improvise and add a few olives, capers, or even Feta, but you may not want to; it is perfect just the way it is.

The real beauty of this recipe is that all of the items are “pantry” items; things you would likely have with no special shopping required. It is a great way to use up the last of head of celery, limp or not, carrots, fresh or not. And BTW, it is good for you!

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, diced
  • ½ cup white wine (optional)
  • 1-3 tomatoes, chopped or pureed (canned tomatoes can be used)
  • 3- 8 leaves chard, chopped, stalk included
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained  – any other kind of beans can be used in addition or substituted
  • Juice of 2-4 lemons
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish

Directions:

  1. Sweat carrot, celery, chard stalk, onion, and garlic until they are slightly soft.
  2. Add wine, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add tomato, and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add chard leaves, beans, and cook for a few more minutes, until chard is cooked.
  5. Turn off the heat, and add lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
  6. Put in a serving bowl, and garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley.

ENJOY!

Spicy Pork Tenderloin

This is a ridiculously easy recipe. Done right pork tenderloin is tender and juicy. It is also easy-to-find, very low in fat, and quick to cook. If you have one frozen it will thaw quickly, so you can definitely consider this a Pantry Perfect Recipe! You can cook it on the grill or in the oven, it is perfect either way. It goes well with just about anything and makes great leftovers. Sauteed greens and mashed potatoes sound good to me right now….yum!

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. Thai hot sauce (Sriracha is my favorite)
  • 2 T. Honey
  • 1 t. Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Pork tenderloin

For glaze

  • 2 teaspoons arrow root powder OR ½ teaspoon glucomannan powder as a thickener
  • 1 c boiling water

Directions:

  1. Make a glaze with Thai hot sauce, honey, garlic powder, s&p. Rub all over pork.
  2. Roast at 350° until done (20 -40 minutes depending on size) or cook on the grill. Do not over cook.
  3. Deglaze pan (or use juices from grilled meat) and add thickener cook a minute then add water slowly whisking until sauce is smooth.

Enjoy!