Kale & Avocado Salad

by Caroline

We make raw kale salad a lot, but over Christmas my sister made a version that was a revelation to me: raw, shredded kale massaged with avocado, then tossed with avocado chunks, slivered almonds and lemon juice. Yum. I ate it almost every day (an antidote to my daily handful of Christmas cookies?) and the whole family loved it. Yesterday we made it at home for the first time, and Eli wanted in on the action. I supervised at the beginning, but by the end he had taken over the process and, as you can see from the photo, was well pleased with himself (I should have supervised a little more closely; look at that knife!)

There are various versions of this recipe online, but I had a boy eager to make salad (that bears repeating: a five year old boy eager to make salad) so we just improvised, and it tasted great. Here’s how it went:

1 bunch of kale
1 lemon
2 avocados
1 handful (approximately 1/4 cup) toasted, slivered almonds
olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste

Strip the kale leaves from their stems, wash them, and then slice them into ribbons. Dump them into a large salad bowl. Slice one avocado onto the kale and mash it into the leaves with your hands. There is no kitchen implement that can do this for you, just dig in with your bare hands or enlist a willing helper to massage the kale leaves until they are all nicely coated with avocado. Juice the lemon over the leaves, and then add the other avocado, chopped into chunks. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with almonds, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and serve.


by Lisa

It’s been a week of experimenting here in the kitchen and not all of it has been successful.  The carrot mostarda was too sweet, the celery root carpaccio too salty–but the pork involtini were delicious–fast, easy and a huge hit with everyone.

I was inspired by my new issue of La Cucina Italiana, which is a favorite food magazine. The recipes are often too involved and time consuming for a weeknight, but a girl can dream…

Involtini is a technique which involves pounding a meat until it is very thin, then rolling it around some delicious filling, then securing the pretty little bundle with a toothpick. The rolls are browned, then quickly braised, then sliced into pinwheels for serving (or not). This recipe involves only 3 ingredients (+ olive oil and salt), and you can make the rolls ahead of time and refrigerate them until it’s time to cook. They cook in just a few minutes–enough time to steam some broccoli, sautee the rest of the chard, and warm some garlic bread in the oven.

They are adorable. The kids were charmed by them. Just this once, I let them eat with their fingers so the rolls stayed intact. They dipped the rolls in a country mustard, which isn’t necessary, but is pretty good.

Pork Involtini with Swiss Chard

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 4 large leaves Swiss chard
  • 12 scallions, white and light green parts only
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • Special equipment:  toothpicks
  1. Cut white stems and ribs off the chard, so you have only the leafy green part.
  2. Cut the tenderloin into 4 equal pieces.
  3. Using a rolling pin or meat tenderizer, gently pound the cutlets into very thin cutlets, about 1/4-1/8 inch thin.
  4. Lightly salt both sides of meat.
  5. Lay a single layer of chard leaves over each cutlet.
  6. Beginning with narrow end, roll up each piece of meat and secure with toothpick.
  7. In a large pan over high heat, with a few tablespoons of olive oil, brown rolls on  all sides.
  8. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water, the scallion.
  9. Lower heat. Cover and cook until pork is cooked through, about 8 minutes.
  10. Slice the rolls to your liking, remove the toothpicks, and serve with pan drippings.

Comfort Food Salad for Brunch

by Caroline

As I’ve written before, I love a salad for lunch, but when it’s rainy and cold, as it’s been in the Bay Area lately, something warmer is called for. Sometimes I make roasted potato and kale salad, but the other day I didn’t have quite the time, energy or ingredients to pull it together. So instead, I improvised with some dinner leftovers and one fresh market egg to make a warm and brunch-like dish that I will make again, even if I don’t have the leftovers with which to start. Here’s how it goes:

1 potato
1 handful of kale
1 egg
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Scrub and chop the potato and boil till tender, 5 – 10 minutes depending on the size of the chunks.

While the potato is cooking, stem, chop and rinse the kale. Steam in a saute pan (or, if you’re really efficient, in a bamboo steamer over the boiling potato) until tender, about 5 minutes.

Drain the vegetables. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the potato, then fry until browned and crisp around the edges. Add the kale, plus some salt and pepper to taste, and heat until warm through. Off load the vegetables on to a plate and now fry an egg in the pan. When the egg’s just how you like it, slide it onto the vegetables. Drizzle with a bit of hot sauce if you like, and enjoy!

Okra. A Reminder.

This is not really a post about okra (though I do have a simple recipe below) but a reminder that when kids are involved in your meals, they should be involved in your meal planning. My husband and I know this, of course, and we do involve them to a certain extent — we ask whether they want pasta or rice; we let them vote on cooked spinach vs spinach salad; we bring them to the farmer’s market and let them pick things out. But lately we don’t often go to the grocery store with them, and that was site of this weekend’s revelation.

Tony and Ben had snuck out secretly to get a Christmas tree while Eli and I were at a birthday party. Decorating a Christmas tree requires eggnog, of course, so the guys headed off to our local market, which you enter through the produce section. Ben spotted the okra and remembered he loves it. Years ago, a friend made an Indian-spiced fried okra dish that he devoured, and Ben still talks about it (I remember it simply as the first time I enjoyed okra). But okra doesn’t show up in our CSA box and I don’t seek it out at the farmer’s market. Frankly, I don’t love it, but that shouldn’t be the most important factor now that the kids are getting older, and especially not if we want them to try new things. Plus, it is incredibly easy to cook.

Tony gets the credit for this simple recipe, which was delicious and different and everybody enjoyed (except Eli, to whom I suggested he could learn to like it). It inspired an entire Indian feast, with a simple curry of potatoes and tofu, papadum, and lime-mango chutney. More than that, it inspired us all to think we might possibly be taking the first small steps away from the kids narrow food choices of the last couple years.

Simple Fried Okra
Wash and trim the okra, then slice it into 1/2″ rounds. Fry it in a bit of olive oil until it has started to brown and crisp around the edges, about 6-10 minutes. Sprinkle with a mixture of ground cumin, coriander, turmeric and a bit of salt.

image credit

Coconut Kale, Simplified

by Caroline

As I’ve probably mentioned before, my mom is an excellent clipping service, regularly sending me articles and recipes from the New York Times. Sometimes she makes the recipes first herself but more often, since she is cooking for two and I am cooking for four, she sends it to me to test and see if it’s worth her effort. Usually my sister is included in the recipe exchange, too, which was particularly helpful recently, when Mom found the recipe for grilled coconut kale, and Libby made it, but suggested stir frying might be just as good, and easier. I’m here to report it is.

Now kale is something that, like many greens, cycles in and out of favor with my kids. Right now, Ben likes it best raw in salad and Eli won’t touch it. But this, like Lisa’s recent braised celery, was a modified success, and I’m encouraged to keep it in the repertoire. You might find that even kids who insist they don’t like kale like it this way, tender and sweet with coconut milk. And come summer, maybe I’ll even grill it; but this time of year, I’ll stay out of the rain and make it on the stove top.

I’ll link to the original recipe, but I’m also typing it in as I did it, cut down to a more family-sized amount (1 bunch of kale rather than 3).

1 bunch kale

1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

1/2 teaspoon mild paprika

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice.

1. Wash the kale thoroughly and cut out the stalks. Cut the wide leaves into strips the width of the small leaves.

2. In a large pot set over a low flame, heat the coconut milk until it is thoroughly mixed and just lukewarm. Transfer to a large, nonreactive bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir in the kale, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

3. Remove the kale from the refrigerator and stir to make sure the leaves are well covered in marinade. Toss in a saute pan and cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes, then cover and lower the heat. Cook until tender, another 6-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Vij’s Restaurant, Vancouver, British Columbia.