Kale Tahini Salad

KALE.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’d rather eat a piece of cardboard than a kale salad. I get it. It’s kinda bitter, the texture is weird and it’s just not all that appealing. I want to change your mind about this. Besides being a trendy food right now, it is actually REALLY good for you and can be prepared in a way that you’ll enjoy it. Trust me.

Some tidbits about kale:

-It is one of the most nutrient dense foods containing high vitamins and minerals but low calories

-It’s packed with antioxidants (cancer prevention)

-Can help lower cholesterol

The trick is to prepare it in a way that gets rid of that bitterness and strange texture. If you’ve read anything about kale before maybe you’ve seen instructions to “massage” your kale… *rolls eyes* Ain’t nobody got time for that! I’ve never massaged my kale and I don’t intend to. I typically eat kale sauteed in a little olive oil. Then I add other flavors to it. If I eat it raw, I mix it in a dressing and let it sit in that for a few hours. It’s one of the only types of salad you can leave in a dressing without it getting soggy – it actually makes it better.

So let’s cut to the chase. This recipe is so simple. I buy all the ingredients for it at Trader Joe’s and there’s little prep involved. This salad is good warm or cold. When you first prepare it, it’s warm, but it keeps well in the fridge for a few days and is good cold too.

What to do with Kale? Tahini makes kale sooooo much better. Sauté with tahini and cherry tomatoes and pine nuts for a tasty and healthy salad! Repin and save for later


Kale Tahini Salad
 
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 3 cups raw kale (take off the hard "spine" that is attached to a lot of the leaves)
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 2-3 tablespoons Trader Joe's Tahini sauce - side note: this is not the same as tahini paste, if you have tahini paste you’ll need to add lemon juice, garlic and salt to creat the sauce
  • Handful toasted pine nuts
  • You don't need any seasonings because the tahini sauce already has lots of flavor!
Instructions
  1. Saute the raw kale in a pan with olive oil over medium heat. It will wilt down the way spinach does but not as much. This should only take about 5 minutes. Then throw in the tomatoes and let them warm up in the pan for a couple more minutes.
  2. Mix the tahini with a tablespoon of water in a jar and stir together with a fork. This is just to make the tahini a little more runny so that it can coat all the kale well. Toss the kale and tomatoes with the tahini in a big bowl and top with pine nuts when served.

 

Warm Fall Quinoa Salad

Helloooooo fall!!

Let’s just take a moment to talk about how it’s November and the high is 70 degrees. Umm what?? I don’t know how I landed in this dream but, MinneSNOWta – please don’t wake me up yet!

Fall is my favorite season. I just love the crisp cool air, big cozy sweaters and warm colors. The flavors of fall turn everything into a feel-good comfort food – sweet and savory squashes, creamy soups and warm spices. You might as well leave a crock-pot out on the counter at all times, it’s that time of year!

This recipe is not a crock-pot recipe, but doesn’t take long to throw together. Especially if you make the quinoa and/or squash ahead of time. This is the kind of meal you just throw together one day with the ingredients you have on hand. I love that about quinoa. It goes with anything. Try out this recipe and then play around with what you could add or substitute for a different flavor or texture. Maybe add crumbled goat cheese or a different kind of dressing.

Warm Quinoa Salad
 
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry quinoa (you’ll have some leftover)
  • 1 bunch green kale (get rid of the hard stems)
  • 1 small butternut squash or delicata squash
  • Handful of pecans
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • 2 cups chicken broth
Instructions
  1. Cook the squash first since it will take the longest. If using Delicata Squash: Cut in half the long way and scrape out the seeds and guts and discard. Place in a pan face down with a little olive oil on the bottom to prevent sticking. Roast in 350 degree oven for about 20 min. Use a knife to get it out of the skin once it’s cooked and cut into cubes.
  2. If using Butternut Squash: Peel and cut in half. Cut into small cubes. Discard the seeds. Toss in olive oil and roast in 350 degree oven for about 30 min.
  3. While Squash is cooking, place 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, cover and simmer for 12 minutes. When done, all the broth should be absorbed and the quinoa will turn fluffy. Save the extra as an already prepared base for meals the rest of the week!
  4. Sautee kale in a pan with olive oil and salt.
  5. Toss all ingredients together and top with balsamic vinegar and more olive oil if needed. S & P to taste.

Now, in true fall fashion, pour yourself a mug of hot cider and light your cinnamon scented candle while you put together this healthy and comforting fall meal!

Prosciutto and Parmesan Salad and Rosemary Focaccia

The punch salad. So simple but so good!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped at Punch for a to-go salad that comes with that tasty focaccia! It’s nothing fancy, really. Which makes it easy to recreate at home :) Here are the recipes for the salad and the focaccia. The salad is pretty spot-on and I couldn’t believe how simple the focaccia is! I’ve never made my own bread before and I think it turned out pretty decent. Of course that wood burning oven would have been nice to have! Some day ;)

 

Copycat Punch Salad with mixed greens, prosciutto, parmesan, pine nuts and balsamic vinaigrette. So simple and yummy! Repin and save for later 
focaccia, rosemary, rosemary focaccia, punch focaccia

Copycat Punch Salad and Rosemary Focaccia
 
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Punch Salad
  • Ingredients
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • 2 oz prosciutto (TJs has it nitrate-free)
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (I buy them already toasted at TJs)
  • ½ cup fresh finely grated parmigiano reggiano (choose an authentic one)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. In a large bowl, add the mixed greens and prosciutto. Add the dressing and toss together until it is well coated. Finely grate the parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top. Top with the toasted pine nuts and toss all ingredients together.

 
Copycat Punch Salad and Rosemary Focaccia
 
Recipe type: Bread
Ingredients
  • Rosemary Focaccia
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 package dry yeast (¼ oz)
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup warm water
Instructions
  1. Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup warm water and let sit 10 min until bubbly. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and yeast mixture and remaining water. Mix well with a wooden spoon and then use your hands. Then knead by hand on a floured work surface for a few minutes.
  2. Put the dough mixture into a well oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit out for about 1.5 hrs until it’s risen to double it’s size.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a baking sheet and form the dough into a circle or oval onto the baking sheet. Use a rolling pin to make it thin. Dimple the top all over with the tip of a utensil or your finger. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and rosemary. Bake for 15-20 min until it’s just starting to get barely golden. Careful not to overbake. Slice with a pizza cutter into 8 slices. Serve with the punch salad.

 

 

BALT Salad (Bacon, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato)

Bacon. Lettuce. Tomato. What a good combo, right? Add avocado to that and it goes from good to AWESOME. We can’t get enough avocado around here. What an awesome fruit. I don’t know what the actual definition of a superfood is but in my book avocado qualifies. It provides healthy fat, it has more potassium than a banana, it’s tasty and it’s texture lets you do so many things with it! Make it into a spread, a dressing, a dip or eat it all by itself. I just love it.

When I put this together, I was craving a salad with a creamy dressing. I love a simple balsamic and olive oil dressing, but don’t you just crave a creamy ranch sometimes? The problem with that is that your healthy salad just turned into an unhealthy meal. You might as well go and get a burger for all those calories and fat! This is what inspired me to put together a healthier version of a ranch dressing. I didn’t completely eliminate fat and sugar because well… then it would just be gross. I substituted some of the mayo for greek yogurt, which packs a lot more protein and way less fat. You definitely need some mayo though. The greek yogurt has a bit of a sour flavor and I felt it needed a little sugar, but I kept it minimal. 

Let’s talk about spiralizing!

The other cool thing about this salad is the spiralized cucumber. This way the cucumber adds some more substance to the base of the salad with the arugula. And you get some cucumber in every bite. I bought my spiralizer on amazon for pretty cheap and it works well for me! I use it for zucchini quite a bit. You can use it on lots of veggies. It makes your meals a little more interesting and creative. Especially when it comes to substituting noodles for veggies. What a good invention. If you need one I recommend this one from amazon. It’s simple to use and the price is right.

BLT salad with AVOCADO and spiralized cucumber! Plus my homemade healthy ranch dressing. Repin and save the recipe!

BALT Salad (Bacon, Avocado, Lettuce Tomato)
 
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 medium sized cucumber
  • 2 handfuls grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Handful of chopped chives
  • 4 slices turkey bacon
  • 1 avocado
Instructions
  1. Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk together until well combined. I stored mine in an empty sriracha bottle because I like the squirt top. That’s how I got it to drizzle so pretty over the salad in the pictures. Pretty fancy looking, right? This also prevents you from dumping way too much dressing over your salad. Keep it in the fridge.
  2. Cook the turkey bacon in a pan or in the oven, whichever you prefer. I like to cook it in a pan until it’s crispy.
  3. Spiralize the cucumber into a bowl. I never realized how much water is in cucumber until I did this. I had a little puddle of green water at the bottom of my bowl! Drain that out.
  4. Chop the grape/cherry tomatoes in half. Dice up the avocado and lastly chop up the chives.
  5. To your plate, lay a bed of arugula then put the spiralized cucumber on top of that. Then add the rest of the ingredients and drizzle with ranch dressing. Enjoy your pretty salad!

Note: This works well as a side salad. If you want to make it an entree salad I would add more protein like diced chicken breast.

Tabbouleh Salad

What you might be thinking right now: What the heck is tabbouleh?

It’s a popular Middle Eastern salad that’s simple and delicious. This is my own variation of it that doesn’t stray too far from the traditional (from what I’ve read). I have never visited the Middle East so I can’t say for sure.

This is a great vegetarian and vegan dish and the quinoa provides some protein. If you want to keep the Middle Eastern theme going, serve this with falafel or maybe a gyro. If not, pair it with whatever you want or eat it by itself. Can’t go wrong here!

Tahini Dressing for Tabbouleh Salad with quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and red onion. Fresh, yummy and healthy! Repin and save the recipe

Tabbouleh Salad
 
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 baby seedless cucumbers
  • Hand-full of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Dressing
  • Juice of 2 small lemons
  • ¼ cup EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup tahini paste
  • 1 tablespoon water
Instructions
  1. Cook quinoa according to package. Tip: I use chicken broth instead of water to add more flavor to the quinoa. While you let the quinoa cool, chop the veggies. For this recipe I like everything chopped very small, that way you get a lot of everything in every bite. Slice the cucumbers and chop the slices again and again till they are pretty small. Finely chop the tomatoes and onions too.
  2. Definitely use fresh vs dry parsley for this recipe. It makes SUCH a difference! I grow parsley in my tiny little urban garden in uptown so you don’t have an excuse to try it! It’s cheaper and so nice to have available all the time. Finely chop the parsley as well.

Note: This will serve 2 with leftover quinoa. It’s nice to store it in the fridge and use up during the week!