Crunchy Cucumber Apple Kale Salad

I love eating from a wide, shallow bowl.  Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, any meal looks delicious and inviting all cuddled together against the lazily sloped sides of a pasta bowl.   Never mind one pot meals,  I’ll do some extra dishes to make me a one bowl meal.  bowls

Some of my favorites as of late:

  • steel cut oats, sliced banana, homemade yogurt (recipe soon!) and raw cashews
  • brown rice, herby tomato sauce, fried eggs, steamed broccoli, parmesan cheese
  • shredded romaine, carrot ribbons, sliced red peppers, roasted sweet potatoes, pulled chicken, olive oil

The possibilities are truly innumerable! (echo, echo, echo)

I’ve had this crunchy kale salad on my to-make list for quite some time.  It hails from the Sprouted Kitchen blog, one of my (any many others’) fav sites for creative, super-healthy, gorgeous and invariably delicious recipes.  So on Sunday morning, when my dad texted: “dinner party: 5 PM,” I knew just what I’d be bringing to the table.  dinner table

This diversely textured salad does demand some chopping, but aside from that it comes together pretty quickly.  The only thing you’ve got to plan for is cooking the lentils and roasting the pepitas (raw, green pumpkin seeds) which are both pretty hands-off steps.

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This salad is a keeper, meaning you can keep it in the fridge and enjoy it for a couple days. There’s lots of lemon juice in the dressing, so the apples won’t go brown on you.  I would definitely say this salad gets better on the second day, since the kale breaks down a bit in the presence of the acidic lemon juice and the flavors have time to meld and mingle.  Just remember to leave out the pepitas until you’re ready to dig in so they don’t get soggy.

How to make this a one bowl meal: a couple scoops of this salad nestled in with a hunk of goat cheese or feta and a hard-boiled egg and you’ve got yourself a crazy nutritious mouth party.  Shazam! crunchy kale salad

Crunchy Cucumber Apple Kale Salad

adapted slightly from Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients:

3 cups kale, chopped and stems removed

1 bunch parsley, chopped and large stems removed

1 cup cooked black (beluga) lentils: – bring dried lentils to a boil in plenty of water, then reduce heat and simmer until just soft, but not mushy

1 tart green apple, diced

1 sweet pink or yellow apple, diced

1 english cucumber, diced

½ cup toasted pepitas

dressing:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Juice and zest from one whole lemon

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

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Method:

1. In a large serving bowl, combine the kale, parsley, lentils, apples, and cucumber.

2. For the dressing, put all ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting lid and shake until emulsified.  If you don’t wanting garlic bits, use a food processor instead.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to distribute. Garnish with pepitas and cheese of your choice.

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Lemony Kale Pesto with Walnuts

I wanted to write something profound about how I often miss the way I felt in church as a kid on Easter Sunday.  The way the trumpets and lilies and hymns stirred my kid soul and made me joyful.  I want to pay homage to those memories, those experiences, but couldn’t find exactly the right words to do so.  So I will simply offer that as a grown up, I’ve gladly realized closeness with the divine has no boundaries. We all just have to find our temples.

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No matter how you choose to celebrate it, Easter can mark a day of renewal, of rebirth.  Check in with your New Year’s resolutions.  Do some deep-belly breathing before you get out of bed.  Let the sun shine on your face for an extra minute or two.  See the beauty in being alive today.  Make a healthy meal to nourish your body and share it with loved ones to nourish your soul.

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I offer you this pesto recipe which you can whip up and use as the base for a springy salad to bring to tomorrow’s festivities.  In this way, you will effectively help counterbalance the salty ham, cheesy potatoes and Cadbury cream eggs.  Don’t even get me started on Peeps.

Lemony Kale and Walnut Pesto

This pesto is great on lots of things.  I used it as the dressing for a cold farro salad studded with golden raisins, currants, toasted walnuts, and chopped roasted red pepper.   Try it on your leftover hard-boiled Easter eggs.  Stir it generously into penne pasta, or slather it on boiled potatoes and throw in some chopped black olives for a quick, greened-up potato salad.

Ingredients:

2 bunches kale (any variety will work but let’s be honest, most of us prefer dinosaur, right?)

2-3 cloves garlic

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup toasted walnuts or other nut of choice

Juice of one large lemon or two small guys

2/3 cup olive oil …ish

salt to taste

water as needed

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Method:

Bring a large (3  quart or bigger) pot of salted water to a rolling boil.

Wash your kale.  Cut off the thick, lower portion of the stems and discard or save for another use. Roughly chop the leaves.

Peel your garlic and drop the cloves into the boiling water.  This will take the bad-breath edge off, amazing!  Then throw all the chopped kale into the pot and use a wooden spoon to make sure everyone is dunked under the water.

Continue cooking kale for about 30 SECONDS, and then quickly retrieve it along with the garlic cloves using a slotted spoon or strainer and drain well.  Save the kale cooking water!

*blanching the kale in this way will denature the enzymes that will eventually turn your kale pesto that nasty shade of olive green/brown as well as tone down the “grassy” flavor, which is nice if you’re serving to a diverse audience (read: picky)*

Use a clean dish towel or paper towel to blot the kale dry and then put it all in a blender along with the garlic, grated cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Blend until the consistency resembles a milk shake, adding some of the kale cooking water as needed to move things along.

Once you get the desired consistency, taste the pesto and add salt until it tastes just right.

Pour your pesto into a jar for later use or directly onto some farro or other hearty grain for a great salad/ side dish for your Easter feast!

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