Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Holy Kale!

If you haven't jumped on the kale craze band wagon there is no better time like now to start.  Personally I don't see kale as a "craze" but a powerhouse vegetable that should be in every one's refrigerator.  Kale provides a fabulous source of fiber as well as detoxing antioxidants, including vitamins A, B6, C and K.  It is also a great source of calcium and potassium.

There are so many ways to enjoy kale and it's different varieties.  Most commonly found are Curly Kale and Lacinato "Dino" Kale.  I prefer using the Dino Kale in most of my recipes.  Curly Kale however, is great in soups or sauteed in any dish.  I find myself often eating kale raw, drizzled in my favorite olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  For those of you new to kale or looking for an exciting way to dress it up, here are two recipes I am in love with.  One of them is my own and the other I adapted from a recipe I recently found on Pinterest using what was in my refrigerator and pantry.

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets

This salad is a new staple in our house.  Not only does it taste great but it is packed with lots of nutrient detoxifying ingredients.  Alongside the power food kale, roasted beets and quinoa add to this salad an extra detoxing punch.  Beetroot supports good health for the gallbladder and liver with vitamins B3, B6, C and beta-carotene.  The detoxifying agents of iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium help eliminate bodily waste.  Super grain, quinoa, is a complex carbohydrate packed full of energizing B vitamins.  I also topped this salad with pumpkin seeds which contain zinc for a skin booster.

1 bunch Dino Kale, chopped with tough ribs removed
2 medium red beets, roasted
1 bunch beet leaves, chopped with tough stems removed
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced 
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 small leek, white and light green parts chopped and roasted
2 tablespoons plus a little extra olive oil
1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
1 wedge of lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

First, prep the beets for roasting by placing the washed and dried beets onto a large piece of foil.  Drizzle the beets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Wrap the beets in the foil and roast in the oven for 50 - 60 minutes until tender enough to poke through with a fork.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.  Once cool enough to handle peel the skin off the beets and chop into small bite sized pieces.  

While the beets are roasting, cook the quinoa according to the package.  I substituted vegetable broth instead of water to give the quinoa a bit more flavor.  Set the quinoa aside and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Place the kale in a medium bowl.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Using your hands, massage the kale for about 30 seconds.  This breaks down the kale a bit making it easier to digest.  Set the kale aside to marinate in the olive oil for about 15 minutes.  

While the kale is marinating toss the leaks in a small bowl drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Place them on a foil lined baking sheet and roast them in the oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until slightly browned and crisp.

When the beets are roasted and chopped and the quinoa has cooled, combine the kale, roasted beets, beet leaves, quinoa, cucumbers, pumpkin seeds and Parmesan cheese into a large salad bowl and toss.  Squeeze the lemon over the bowl and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Toss again to combine the salad.  Salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with the roasted leeks. Makes 4-6 servings.

Note:  The Warm Roasted Garlic Dressing would also be a wonderful dressing for this salad.

Butternut Squash Pizza with Kale and Caramelized Onions

I am in LOVE with this pizza!  It is a fun and delicious twist on a family favorite.  There are also so many ways to make this to create a different taste each time.  Substituting pumpkin or sweet potatoes for the butternut squash is just one idea.  Adding mushrooms or a red bell pepper could be wonderful too.  I really liked using butternut squash as the "sauce" giving the pizza a sweetness.  Besides, we had a huge one sitting on our counter screaming to be used.  The kale, when baked in the oven, crisps a bit which is my favorite part.  This pizza is going to be made quite a bit this winter as well as this summer on the grill paired with a wonderful Pinot Grigio!

1 small butternut squash
1 heaping cup kale, chopped
1 large onion, sliced thin
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 prepared pizza dough (I use Trader Joe's Garlic and Herb Pizza Dough)
2 cups shredded Fontina cheese (substitute mozzarella if preferred)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Begin by slicing the Butternut squash lengthwise in half.  Remove the seeds and stringy flesh and discard.  Using a vegetable peeler, carefully peel the skin off and discard.  Cut the butternut squash into small cubes and place into a medium bowl.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place the squash onto a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 45-55 minutes until tender.

While the squash is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pan over low-medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 25-30 minutes, until the onions are just caramelized.  Add the kale and cook until tender and a bit wilted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Take off the heat and set aside.

Place the roasted butternut squash into a food processor and blend until smooth.  Transfer the blended butternut squash into a medium bowl and add the sage and milk.  Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roll out the prepared pizza dough on a well floured surface.  Place the pizza dough on a lightly floured baking sheet.  Spread the butternut squash mixture on the dough.  Top with half the fontina cheese.  Next spread the kale and caramelized onions over the cheese.  Lastly, Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on the pizza.  Using a small basting brush, brush the remainder of the olive oil on the edge of the crust.  Bake the pizza in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted, the kale has crisped, and the edge of the pizza begins to brown.  Makes about 4 servings.

Note: Adding a few cloves of roasted garlic to the butternut squash mixture would not only be a great detoxing boost but would intensify the flavor of the mix as well.