UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH KALE

Before I urge you to go massage a kale (I admit it does sound a little naughty), let me tell you that not in a million years I would think this step to be necessary. In fact, I used to go into compulsive eye-rolling while reading recipes that call for “massaged kale”. I was not the only one, the lovely Kelly from Inspired Edibles had this to say about the process:

When I first encountered the term ‘massaged kale’ I found it not only pretentious but kind of silly too.
Had kale been elevated to such a precious status that it now required massaging?
I couldn’t just eat the stuff, I needed to pet it too?

I could not have said it better. But, surprisingly enough, she decided to give it a try, and was blown away by the outcome. You should definitely stop by her site to read about her experience.  I was skeptical, but after her endorsement, I dimmed the lights, put some music on, and fully engaged in the role of masseuse.

KaleSalad

MASSAGED KALE SALAD WITH FRESH APRICOT & SPICY SKILLET CHICKPEAS
(slightly modified from Kelly’s Inspired Edibles)

for the salad:
1 generous bunch kale leaves, washed and torn into smaller bite-sized pieces
1 (15 oz) chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and dried
6 fresh apricots, sliced
1/3 cup shaved almond, slightly toasted

for the spice mix:
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp curry powder
pinch smoked paprika
pinch of ground cinnamon
sea salt to taste

for the Massage Oil (aka salad dressing):
2 Tbsp olive oil
juice of one lime (about 2 Tbsp)
1 tsp honey
sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste

Warm a dry skillet over medium-high heat and toss chickpeas in warmed skillet for about two minutes to remove any residual moisture. Be sure to shake the pan and/or stir the chickpeas.

Sprinkle the chickpeas with seasonings of choice. including salt and pepper.  Stir seasoned chickpeas to mix the spices. After about two minutes, drizzle a little bit of coconut or olive oil over the seasoned chickpeas and toss to combine. Keep stirring the chickpeas and adjust seasonings as desired. When the chickpeas are well saturated with flavor, remove from heat and reserve.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine salad dressing ingredients and whisk well.

Place kale pieces in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with dressing. Simply use your fingers to work the oil/dressing into the kale leaves – watch and feel the color/texture transformation. After only two minutes your kale is beautifully seasoned and softened and all set to eat. You will also find that it’s easier during the massage stage to remove any excessively hard pieces from the center rib of the kale. The leaves will fall off the rib quite easily and your fingers will be in place to feel it happen and facilitate the process.

Place massaged kale in large serving bowl, or on individual serving plates, and dress with seasoned chickpeas, fresh apricot and almonds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

Doesn’t that look pretty amazing?
I wish I could massage my face in the morning and have that type of improvement!

ingredients2

 Even though the star of this show should be the kale, I have to say I fell in love with Kelly’s skillet chickpeas. In fact, I’ve been making them this way quite often, varying the spices according to my mood. Those are better than roasted, with the added bonus of being ready in minutes, and without turning the oven on.  I had a hard time not munching on half of them before assembling the salad.

chickpeas

I suppose this recipe will please even hard-core kale haters.  The massage mellows down the harsh texture of kale, bringing it closer to a butter lettuce, but with a more assertive taste.  Of course, joining fresh apricots with the incredibly tasty chickpeas made this salad a complete winner!

I hope you twill try it either as we did, or using different spices and fruits.  I think fresh peaches or even strawberries could be fantastic substitutions.

Kelly, thanks again for another super creative and fun recipe!

ONE YEAR AGO: Black Berry Cherry Sorbet

TWO YEARS AGO: Asparagus Pesto

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate and Chestnut Terrine

FOUR YEARS AGO: Under the spell of lemongrass

FIVE YEARS AGO: Greens + Grapefruit + Shrimp = Great Salad!

SPINACH AND CHICKPEA CURRY

This recipe was published in a recent issue of Fine Cooking magazine, and it called my attention because I absolutely love chickpeas. My dear Mom would have a shock if she read my blog. I would not touch chickpeas with a 10-foot pole when I was a child. Actually, I would not touch them until I was about 30 years old.  Then, I fell in love with hummus without realizing what went into it.  Once I became aware of the true nature of hummus,  I decided that by crushing those strange-looking grains, and mixing them with a ton of other stuff, their evil nature was neutralized.  From the tasty dip to trying the actual beans many years more passed.  But now you have me here, enjoying chickpeas in every possible way, roasted, sautéed, braised… Go figure.  This is a very nice way to prepare them, by the way. For a recipe that comes together so quickly (start to finish will be less than 20 minutes), the taste is surprisingly complex.  The amount made was enough for our dinner and two lunches for me and me only.  I did not even offer to share.  It was better on day 2, and outstanding on day 3.   Make this and you will thank me…

SpinachChickpeaCurry

SPINACH AND CHICKPEA CURRY
(slightly modified from Fine Cooking magazine)

3 Tbs. canola oil
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbs. curry powder
1 tsp. garam masala
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14-1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt or to taste
7 oz. (7 packed cups) baby spinach (I used less)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (optional)

Heat the oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, ginger, curry powder, garam masala, and cayenne, and cook, stirring often, until the shallot is softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, and about 1 tsp. salt. Add the spinach by the handful, stirring to wilt it as you go. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the spinach is completely wilted and the flavors have melded, 4 to 5 minutes more. Season to taste with more salt, if needed. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

Serve with the yogurt on top, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Served

I should have changed the name of this recipe to “Chickpea & Spinach Curry“, because mine definitely was chickpea-heavy. I used all the spinach I had leftover from a huge bag, but clearly more would have been better. Spinach: the ever-disappearing leaf… We enjoyed this tasty curry with my default chicken thigh recipe that has been on the blog since its beginning.  It is one of Phil’s favorites, that and my Chicken Parmigiana. are on the top of his selected list of frequent requests. You know, partners of food bloggers suffer a strange fate: rarely a dish is made again, no matter how great.  We are always in search of the next best thing.

Back to the curry, though.  I can see it served over couscous for a completely vegetarian meal, satisfying and super delicious. On day 2, I had some chicken to go with it, but on day 3 the simple couscous was my whole lunch, with half an avocado to round-up the meal. Sort of India meets Mexico. The hot curry with the cool avocado was a surprisingly nice match.

ONE YEAR AGO: Sautéed Zucchini with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

TWO YEARS AGO: Orzo with Heirloom Tomato Relish

THREE YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote

FIVE YEARS AGO: Love me tender…

CILANTRO JALAPENO “HUMMUS”

cilantrohummus11
I haven’t yet met a “hummus” I did not like. This one is another example of a tahini-less version, with the garbanzo beans standing up to justify the name. ;-)  The recipe is from a wonderful blog I recently stumbled upon:  “Garnish with Lemon“.  It called for peeling the chickpeas, and after reading a lot about the benefits of this extra-step, I went for it. You’ll need a considerable amount of Zen for the job, but I now believe it is totally worth the trouble.  If I am making hummus just for the two of us, I might skip it. But, for special occasions you’ll find me standing by the sink, mindfully peeling pea by pea while wondering about the meaning of life, the origin of the universe, and the mechanism of iron uptake by Escherichia coli.

CILANTRO-JALAPENO HUMMUS
(adapted from Garnish with Lemon)

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and peeled
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup Italian parsley
1 jalapeño, seeded
3/4 tsp salt
Juice of 1+ ½ limes
1/8 cup olive oil
2 Tbs non-fat yogurt (more or less according to consistency)
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Place the beans, cilantro, parsley, jalapeño, salt and lime in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for at least two minutes, until well mixed and smooth, stopping to clean the sides of the bowl halfway through. Slowly add olive oil as the food processor is running.
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Stop the processor, add one or two tablespoons of yogurt, depending on how thick or runny your dip seems.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Place in a container and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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comphummus.
Comments:
  The composite picture above should help me convince the hummus-makers out there that peeling the chickpeas is a good move.  See all those peels on the first photo? I had worked maybe half of the can at that point. The peels have a bit of a slimy texture. Getting rid of them can only improve your masterpiece.
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hummus111.
This creamy dip is great with pita chips, Ak-mak crackers, carrot sticks, but trust me: it works tremendously well over grilled salmon, and it would certainly be great topping other grilled concoctions like chicken breasts, thick tuna steaks, pork tenderloin.  Of course, being a lover of cilantro is mandatory to enjoy this versatile “hummus”.
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ONE YEAR AGO: A Moving Odyssey (has it been one year already?  ;-)

AVOCADO “HUMMUS”

IMG_2053Sometimes (quite often, I’m afraid) I have a recipe on my list of things to do ASAP and there it sits for a year or five. But every once in a while the exact opposite happens: I see a recipe, fall in love, and make it right away.  This avocado hummus showed up on my screen during the last Secret Recipe Reveal Day, which fell exactly on Memorial Day.  Maybe having the day off helped, but the truth is that I saw the recipe mid-morning, and made it at 3pm.  How about that for efficiency?

AVOCADO HUMMUS
(slightly modified from Chocolate and Chillies)

1 19 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 avocados, pitted and diced
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed (I omitted)
handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup water
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a food processor add all the ingredients and process.  Add more water if you would like it thinner.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We love hummus!  It is one of the items we always have in the fridge, in fact. I know homemade is best, but we love it so much that we always have one or two of those little packages of Athenos plain hummus.  I often add a little bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a touch of smoked paprika, and we enjoy it with crackers or veggie sticks.   But this version with avocado instead of tahini is shockingly delicious…  BTW, do you know that blog, Shockingly Delicious?  Great site, check it out…

This hummus recipe makes quite a large amount, so I could save some for a later, happy day!

IMG_2054

ONE YEAR AGO: Moving is not for sissies!

TWO YEARS AGO: Awesome Broccolini

THREE YEARS AGO: Pizza! Pizza!

FOUR YEARS AGO:  From Backyard to Kitchen

FARRO SALAD WITH ROASTED LEEKS

I suppose this could go to my “work in progress” folder.  But, Phil liked it exactly this way, so I decided to share the recipe adding possible tweaks in the comments.  One important thing to mention: although this is a salad, it’s equally good served warm. Those of you still in sub-zero temperatures and avoiding even to glance at a salad plate don’t need to shy away from it. In fact, we enjoyed it hot on the first day piled up next to a  juicy flank steak, grilled medium-rare. Comme il faut..;-)

served5_opt

FARRO SALAD WITH LEEKS, CHICKPEAS AND CURRANTS
(adapted from The New York Times

2 large leeks, halved lengthwise, cleaned and sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
1 Tablespoon olive oil + 1/8 cup, divided
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 can of chickpeas, drained (15 oz)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1 cup dry farro
1/3 cup dried currants
2 celery stalks, diced

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Using a large rimmed baking sheet, toss leeks with 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread leeks out in a single layer  and roast, tossing frequently, until golden brown and crisp at the edges, about 20 minutes.

Drain the chickpeas and add them to a pot with boiling water for a couple of seconds. Drain again, dry well.  In a large bowl, toss leeks with chickpeas, lemon juice and zest,  chile flakes and salt to taste. Stir in 1/8 cup olive oil.  Let marinate while you prepare the farro.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook farro until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Toss with chickpeas mixture. Stir in currants and diced celery. Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

marinating

Comments: The original recipe was written for 2 cups of farro, definitely too much for the two of us.  I halved the recipe, keeping all ingredients in the same proportion, but considerably reducing the olive oil. I was shocked to see the amount called for in the recipe. For two cups of dried farro, they used 2/3 cup of olive oil in the dressing.  Keep in mind that 1/4 cup had already been poured just to roast the leeks. It amounts to 1,700 calories (> 800 for half the recipe) just in the oil component!   Thanks, but no thanks.  I used a tiny amount of oil to roast the leeks, and only 1/8 cup for the whole dressing.   If you like your salad heavier on the oil, I suggest drizzling some more at the very end, before serving.

Now my possible modifications for a future version.  I think raisins would have been better than currants.  And, for my personal taste, the roasted leeks overpowered the dish.  When I make it again, I will use raisins, increase the amount of celery, and reduce the amount of leeks.  That will be a real winner for me.

served1

ONE YEAR AGO: Watercress Salad

TWO YEARS AGO: Carrot and Sweet Potato Puree’

THREE YEARS AGO: Croissants: Paris at home on a special day

HEART-HEALTHY RECIPE FOR A CAUSE

Through The Secret Recipe Club, I got to know Jey, from “The Jey of Cooking“.  A year ago, her Mom received a new heart in a transplant, and Jey decided to post a heart-healthy recipe in her blog, inviting also other bloggers to do the same.  For every recipe posted, she made a donation for The American Heart Association .  Now, to mark the first anniversary of her mother’s surgery, she is launching the same campaign, and this is my contribution.  By the way, if you have a food blog, or even if you don’t, you can join too: simply cook a heart-healthy recipe, blog or take photos from it, and send an email to Jey, you can find more details jumping here.  The deadline is March 25th.

CHICKPEA AND FIRE-ROASTED TOMATO SOUP
(adapted from Fine Cooking; issue 116, March 2012)

1 Tbs. olive oil
Fine sea salt
1 medium shallot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
2 rosemary sprigs
3 cups water (or vegetable broth)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup low fat yogurt
squeeze of lemon juice

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.Add the onion, celery, carrot, and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes with their juice, stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute. Add the rosemary, water, 1 tsp salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Partially cover the pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes.  Remove the sprigs of rosemary, leaving behind any leaves that fell off the stem.  Purée the soup with a hand blender or in batches in a regular blender or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Divide the soup among 4 bowls, add a nice dollop of yogurt in the center of the bowl, and swirl it around with chopsticks.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

The original recipe, in the latest issue of Fine Cooking,  used regular tomatoes and had a higher proportion of chickpeas.  I confess to having a mild addiction to the heat and flavor of Muir fire-roasted tomatoes, so I try to sneak them in my cooking at every opportunity.   Their heat was quite obvious, so the yogurt swirl was a nice addition to tame the fire.

We are pretty much saying goodbye to soup weather, but this version would be great even on a warm Summer evening.  Chickpeas and tomatoes are  awesome together. I have paired them in stews and salads, but this was my first time enjoying them in a soup.  Tasty!

Jey, I hope you’ll get a lot of contributions to celebrate the first anniversary of your Mom’s surgery!

ONE YEAR AGO: Almond Butter Cake

TWO YEARS AGO:  Taillevent (a meal to remember…)

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