Sri Lankan Dal With Coconut and Lime Kale

On a cold night, this dal is just what you’ll need to warm up. Not only is it warm and delicious, it is FULL of great flavor. The lentils get spice from serrano chiles (I amped it up a little with more than the recipe called for) and ginger, alongside the traditional coconut, garlic, cinnamon and cardamom flavors that you’ll find in dal.

My favorite part of this dish is the super flavor-packed kale that you heap on top. It is sauteed with mustard seeds and mixed with some of the onion/garlic/serrano mixture that forms the base of the dal, and hit with lime at the end. It gives just the right hit of acid and freshness from the greens, to offset the comforting lentils.

TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t have cardamom pods, replace with a teaspoon or so of ground cardamom.
  • It’s worth it to use coconut oil instead of olive or vegetable when sautéing for this recipe. It adds a much different undercurrent of flavor that you shouldn’t miss out on!
  • Make sure you taste and salt the dal well to really bring out the flavor.
  • If you like spice, add an extra chile!

Enjoy!

Sri Lankan Dal With Coconut and Lime Kale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound red lentils
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 small white onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¾ inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 green finger chiles or Serrano chiles, stemmed and finely sliced
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 large bunch kale (about 9 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 7 ounces (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) canned coconut milk
  • Yogurt, for serving
  • Rice, for serving

Directions

Wash the lentils in a strainer in cold water until the water runs clear, then place in a medium bowl, cover with water and set aside. Bash the cardamom pods with the side of a knife so they crack open.

Put 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil into a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and cloves. Fry for a minute, then add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are browning and soft. Add the garlic, ginger and green chiles and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove a third of the mixture from the pot and set aside. (Leave the cinnamon stick behind.)

Drain the lentils and add to the pot, along with the turmeric and 4 1/4 cups of hot water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once they are boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft and creamy.

While the lentils are simmering, chop the kale into thin strips and discard the thicker stems. Put the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil into a lidded frying pan (keep the lid off for now) over medium heat and, when hot, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the reserved onion mixture and fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the kale, shredded coconut and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Stir-fry for 1 minute, add 1/4 cup of hot water and put the lid on to steam the kale for 2 minutes, or until soft and tender. Add the lime juice and stir.

When the lentils are soft and creamy, add the coconut milk and remaining salt and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat, and pick out and discard the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. To serve, ladle into bowls and divide kale over the top. Serve with a side of yogurt and rice.

Spaghetti Squash with Kale Pesto

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Meatless Monday? Yes! This spaghetti squash recipe from Food Network is a great one. While, let’s be honest, nothing can replace the love I have for lots and lots of pasta, spaghetti squash really does come close to imitating the look and feel of pasta’s starchy goodness. With a fresh, garlicky pesto covering it, you might even be able to fool a couple of people. (Kids? Fool the kids.)

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I was a little skeptical about this kale pesto, but I really like it. And it even makes a little extra you can save and put on salmon (or some real pasta, don’t lie) later in the week. And it’s even great reheated. Boom.

TW’s Tips

  • I had some pine nuts hanging around that I wanted to use up, so I substituted for the hazelnuts. Walnuts or almond would also work here, just make sure to toast them.
  • I skipped the raisins since I didn’t have on hand and didn’t want to bother with it, but I’m definitely curious about what that would add to this.
  • Make sure the squash is really done. It should feel soft when you flip it over on the baking sheet and the flesh should scrape easily into strands.
  • I had to add the liquid to the pesto in the food processor for it to really come together — the try ingredients were too dense.
  • I spent a few minutes staring questionably at the bins of squash in the grocery store when there were clearly butternut squash in the bin labeled spaghetti squash. I finally figured it out and yes, I was right. Spaghetti squash are yellow and usually oval in shape.

Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash with Kale Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups roughly chopped kale leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Halve and seed the spaghetti squash; roast face-down on a baking sheets at 400 degrees F until tender, 25 minutes; let cool slightly. Scrape the squash into strands with a fork. Discard the skin.

Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Pulse the kale, parsley, garlic, raisins and 2 tablespoons of the toasted nuts in a blender or food processor until combined. Add 1/4 cup olive oil; blend until smooth. Add 1/3 cup water, the parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Pulse until the pesto comes together, adding up to 3 more tablespoons water to loosen, if necessary; season with more salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti squash and cook, stirring, until coated. Add 3/4 cup of the kale pesto. Stir to coat, adding up to 1/2 cup water to loosen; season with salt and pepper. Top the squash with the remaining toasted nuts and more parmesan.

Cook’s Note: Refrigerate the extra pesto up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.

Crispy Kale Chips

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The word “kale chips” sounds like an oxymoron, but I’m now a believer. These things are actually pretty delicious! I made these using fresh kale from my friend’s garden, and chowed down on a bunch. If you need a nice, salty, crunchy snack, you get a bit of a fix without the bag o’ chips. I mean, I’m not giving up my favorite salt and vinegar chips anytime soon, but YOU know.

I used a Food Network recipe and it was SO simple, it’s kind of laughable. The key is making sure the kale is completely dry. Otherwise, it will steam in the oven instead of turning crispy and delicious.

I made the mistake of over-salting these, so take it easy and add a little, and more if you want it.

TW’s Tips

  • Don’t obsess about the size of the pieces of kale. Not worth it.
  • Salt lightly.

Crispy Kale “Chips”

Ingredients

  • 1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Lay on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes. Serve as finger food.

Kale and Couscous (or Orzo) with Green Garlic Dressing

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While housesitting for my friends a few weeks ago, I took advantage of their awesome vegetable garden to make a few dishes using fresh kale snipped right off the plant. I’m awfully jealous of anyone with a vegetable garden these days — I recently read Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and I love the idea of growing and eating your own produce and eating “in season” instead of buying something subpar from the grocery store. In fact, when my parents were visiting, we bought four little herb plants so I could attempt to have at least that on hand — cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary and basil. The cilantro is thriving…we’ll see if I kill everything else. 🙂

So, there was no way I was letting this opportunity pass me by when I had a garden at my fingertips and an open invitation from my friends to pick and eat whatever I wanted. I found this great recipe for kale and couscous with green garlic dressing on the Naturally Ella blog, and it was a perfect fit for my list of ingredients. And while I love Israeli couscous, I switched it up for orzo in my version since I had some on hand in the pantry.

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The flavors in this dish are really fresh and light, with tang from the feta, crunch from the kale and nice acidity from the dressing (I used scallions since I didn’t have green garlic). It’s vegetarian, but it doesn’t feel like it since the chickpeas add a nice meaty texture.

TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand, any will do (white wine, red wine, sherry, etc.)
  • Sub out the couscous for your small pasta/grain of choice — regular couscous, noodles, etc.
  • Buy kale fresh from the farmers market or steal from your friend’s garden

Kale and Couscous (or Orzo) with Green Garlic Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup kale, de-stemmed and shredded
  • ½ cup Israeli couscous, uncooked
  • ½ cup chickpeas (drained, if using canned)
  • ¼ cup feta

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons green garlic (or ¼ cup green onions)

Instructions
Place couscous in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook until couscous is tender, 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
While couscous is cooking, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, and minced garlic. (You can also whiz the green garlic in the food processor and then add the other dressing ingredients.)

Once couscous is done cooking, toss with kale. Let sit until kale is slightly wilted. Add in dressing, feta and chickpeas. Toss all together and serve. If you want it warm, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add in chickpeas, cooking for 1-2 minutes until heated through. Add in kale and cook until slightly wilted. Toss with couscous and dressing.

Chicken and Chorizo Romesco with Spanish Potatoes and Kale

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If you’ve never had Romesco sauce, you’re in for a treat. I’ve discovered it’s one of my faves. Made of roasted red peppers, garlic, roasted tomatoes, garlic, toasted bread, almonds and sherry vinegar all blended together, it’s super flavorful and nutty and garlicky, and you’ll want to put a big dollop on every bite you take of this meal. The meal, by the way, combines this delicious sauce with chicken and chorizo, and some Yukon gold potatoes smashed up with kale and manchego cheese. I love the idea of getting the kale in with the potatoes so you get your greens. And it adds some nice depth and crunch to the potatoes.

This is a Rachael Ray recipe, and unlike some of her recipes, I actually think this took about 30 minutes! Shocking. To make it even faster, pound the chicken out a little bit so it cooks through more quickly. The leftovers from this were delicious as well.

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TW’s Tips

  • On my first go-round, I toasted the garlic a bit too much — I was afraid it would taste burnt, so I redid it. Take it easy on the heat.
  • If you have leftover Romesco, slather it on some fresh baked bread or use it like a pesto on a sandwich — yum.
  • I might try a spicier sausage next time around.

Chicken and Chorizo Romesco with Spanish Potatoes and Kale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup shredded manchego
  • 1 to 3 slices stale bread, toasted, cut 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup pequillo peppers or roasted red peppers
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes, drained, about 1 1/3 cups
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup marcona almonds (Spanish toasted almonds), substitute toasted sliced or peeled almonds if unavailable
  • 4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breast or thigh meat
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest or lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
  • A handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 3/4 pound Spanish chorizo, casings removed, cut into 8 pieces on the bias

Directions

Heat about 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and slowly cook until crisp and golden brown.

Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil, season with salt and cook 15 minutes or until tender, drain and return to hot pot. While the potatoes cook, simmer kale in salted water 10 minutes then drain. When you are ready to serve, mash potatoes with stock and cheese, fold in kale, adjust salt and pepper.

While potatoes come to a boil, move forward with the meal. Add to a food processor: toasted garlic (reserve the oil), some of the toasted bread in pieces, the peppers, tomatoes, sherry vinegar, almonds, and salt and pepper. Turn processor on and stream in reserved “garlic-oil” and add the rest of the toasted bread in pieces until you get a pesto-like consistency. Transfer sauce back to the skillet and keep warm over low heat.

Cut each piece of chicken into 3 chunks and season with citrus zest, smoked sweet paprika, salt, pepper and parsley. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and render it 1 minute. Remove the chorizo to a plate and then add chicken and cook 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally.

Pour a pool of sauce onto each dinner plate and top with a mound of potatoes and kale and chunks of chicken and chorizo.

Summer Squash, Bacon and Mozzarella Quiche with Sauteed Kale

I had some super fresh yellow squash and a big bag of kale to cook up from this week’s farmers market haul, and I happened upon this quiche recipe in Cooking Light — jackpot!

To go alongside, I grabbed a sauteed kale recipe from FoodNetwork.com, courtesy of Anne Burrell. It was super simple, with a nice kick from some crushed red pepper flake and a dash of sherry vinegar at the end. If you haven’t tried kale before, you’ve got to taste this. It’s healthy and really tasty too. Yum!

TW’s tips:

  • Buy the crust for the quiche. Why stress out rolling dough, chilling it, etc. What a hassle.
  • I added some Gruyere cheese in addition to the mozzarella, which browned up on top of the quiche quite nicely and added some nice saltiness. (Confession: I made a mistake and added the cheese on top after I poured in the eggs. Oops! Don’t do that. But it was still good.)
  • I added more than 3 ounces of cheese. (Sorry Cooking Light, but that’s just not enough.)
  • I used skim milk instead of 2% and just used a little bit less — it turned out fine.
  • Not all of the egg mixture fit in the pie crust, which resulted in a little bit of a blowout/ spillage when it was cooking in the oven. Put it on a cookie sheet, and don’t overfill the crust.

Enjoy!

Summer Squash, Bacon and Mozzarella Quiche

Ingredients

  • 9-inch frozen deep-dish pie crust
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (1/8-inch-thick) slices yellow squash
  • 2 cups (1/8-inch-thick) slices zucchini
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk (I used 3/4 cup of skim)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add squash, zucchini, shallots, and thyme; saute for 5 minutes or until squash and zucchini are tender, stirring frequently. Cool the squash mixture slightly.

Combine 1 cup reduced-fat milk and the next 5 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Arrange squash mixture evenly over crust, and sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Pour the egg mixture over cheese. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until filling is set. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack.

Sauteed Kale (by Anne Burrell)

Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 bunch baby kale, stems removed, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1 bunch black kale, stems removed, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and add the garlic cloves and crushed red pepper. Bring the pan to a medium heat and cook the garlic until it gets golden and very aromatic. Remove the garlic and discard.

Add the 2 types of kale and stir to coat with the oil. Season with salt and add the chicken stock. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Uncover and stir to be sure that the kale is cooked evenly. Let the liquid evaporate. Sprinkle with sherry vinegar. Taste to make sure that the kale is seasoned perfectly.

Serve immediately.