Sunday, February 2, 2014

Yummy, Cheery, Healthy, Fast and Easy -- Another Kale Salad for You!

The following post began life as #1 of a Five Things Friday. Then I got a flash of smarts, recognized that when a busy work schedule makes it tough to find blog-writing time, perhaps I shouldn't squander all my goodies in one fell swoop.

So.

 Buckwheat groats and quinoa made into salads! I discovered this combo two weeks ago when The Vancouver Sun featured a Walnut and Broccoli Superblend Salad in their Wine Match column. I've enjoyed quinoa and buckwheat separately before, but not thought to combine them, nor to serve the combination cool, in a salad. I love them this way -- the quinoa goes a long way to lighten the potential stodginess of the groats, while the buckwheat lends the quinoa that subtle additional flavour. And that recipe above is worth clicking on for the liveliness of the dressing as well. I've made it twice since, both times while Pater was away for the week in Vancouver and I wanted easy, satisfying dinners that would make good leftovers for the next day's lunch.

Wednesday night, though, I came home without having stopped for groceries, so I decided to improvise with what I had, using the groats-quinoa combo as a base.

While trying to think what might go in the salad, I got the grains cooking. 1/3 cup of groats, 1/3 of quinoa (but do remember the quinoa needs a quick soak and wash to scrub off its waxy coating) brought to a boil in 1 1/3 cups of water. Then simmer for 15 minutes, covered, before removing from heat. Fluff with a fork as it's cooling, just to keep it fluffy. I was in a hurry for it to cool, so I spread it out on a plate to expose more of it to air.
Meanwhile, I tore the kale (one big bunch we had already in the fridge -- it's becoming a staple around here) off its stalks and then into bite-size pieces. I put those in a bowl, sprinkled them with the juice of half a lemon, and massaged them vigorously for a few minutes. I've read that this helps to soften them up a bit and it does seem to make the chewing a bit easier.

We had almost a pound of mushrooms in the fridge -- I'm not sure what Pater had intended them for, but he was away for a few days and they needed to be used. Perfect! I sliced them, then sauteed them in some olive oil along with a finely chopped garlic clove, and in a separate pan on a nearby element, I browned a half cup of walnut pieces. Technically, I think, between the grains and the nuts, I already had some protein, but I knew I'd feel more satisfied with a couple of eggs. I've been meaning to figure out how to serve them soft-boiled, out of the shell, as my husband does  -- they look so pretty on top of a green salad, rounding it out into a meal.

Luckily, just days before I'd spotted this post on PoppyTalk -- didn't hurt that it featured a blue willow plate (I have a stack in my own cupboard) and a translation of a classic French cookbook. Most importantly, it took me through the simple steps for a shelled soft-boiled egg -- and confirmed Pater's advice that it took six minutes (for in the shell, I'd swear by a 3-minute egg, really!). My skepticism was overcome by the results.

A vigorous tossing of all the above ingredients, some salt and pepper, and I added just a bit of maple syrup for added flavour. If I'd had dried cranberries I would have thrown them in -- I did have a few Thompson raisins that added variety and texture. For my taste buds, the lemon juice, maple syrup, garlic, and the olive oil used to cook the mushrooms, was enough to "dress" the salad -- but if I were making this for Pater, I might amp it up with a bit more olive oil. The egg on top of an individual serving, though, goes a long way to pushing luscious, creamy taste through every last bite -- I made sure to break the yolk and work it through the kale and grains. . . . Mmmmmm, a very healthy dinner made from on-hand ingredients, in less than half an hour from arriving home at 6:45. What's not to love?

Any suggestions for other mods I might make? Or other grain-based salads you enjoy? Do you already use groats and quinoa? Kale? Oh, and one last thing -- this salad makes an excellent lunch to take to work the next day or two -- the kale holds its shape/texture so well. . . .

And thank you so much for all the comments on my last post -- apparently, childhood hair and memories of our mothers is a potent combination. . . if you haven't yet joined or checked out that conversation, it's quite nice to read through--what lovely commenters I have, what a great blog community!

16 comments:

  1. Your salad looks SO good! I'm a huge kale fan and eat .. and juice it regularly. The idea of adding an egg is a good one and really rounds it out as a full meal. I'll try it!

    xleslie

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    1. Always happy to welcome a new commenter (I think?) especially one whose one blog looks so scrumptious! Thanks for commenting.

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  2. I love a kale salad...it looks delicious!
    In the summertime I make a kale salad with peaches or nectarines, blueberries, feta and add a light vinaigrette.

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    1. That sounds like a yummy combo -- have you ever tried "massaging" the kale to tenderize it a bit?

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  3. It looks delicious!
    I was a late-comer to quinoa. For some reason I had a firm bias against it. Odd as it sounds, it was the same sort of bias that kept me from reading Eat Pray Love. I finally read it, completely disliked it, felt bad/dull/out of sync with the rest of the reading world about that and therefor read The Signature of All Things. My bias is now firmly in place. Back to quinoa though - I overcame my reluctance to climb onto the bandwagon and was instantly a convert.
    Hmmmm - I'm sure there IS a thread of something connecting the thoughts above.......

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    1. Too funny -- I resisted EPL for ages, but when I finally succumbed (a daughter brought me her much-loved copy), I quite liked many chapters. I'd thought I might try Signature as I've read a few recommendations. . . No, then??
      Quinoa and Elizabeth Gilbert, together again, hmmmm ;-)

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  4. Oh, that looks delish! I'm a dedicated fan of kale salads, and often use the boxed baby kale (all of the flavor, but much more tender) when I can find it. I poach an egg in the microwave to top salads, but may have to try your method...so much prettier! Now I'm going to have to pull out that box of quinoa and learn how to make it...

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    1. I'm not sure we have the baby kale locally, although I must admit that Pater does most of the grocery shopping.
      Quinoa's really easy to work with, except that it's important to work that surface off -- apparently it lends an unpleasantly bitter taste.

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  5. I love quinoa salads. I actually made one last night - didn't have the ingredients for the one I normally do, so I threw in edamame beans (always have some in the freezer), preserved lemon, finely chopped cucumber, a few herbs and some chopped up olives. I wanted some rocket for it, but my garden didn't comply.
    I am rather childishly NOT eating kale at the moment because it's become such an It Food :) and every hipster in town seems to be toting a bunch. But at least you're using yours in a salad, not one of those vile green smoothies!

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    1. I like the sound of your salad -- thanks! (I'm a big fan of edamame as well)
      Yes, and do those hipsters carry their smoothies in oh-so-hip majon jars with or without handles? Sometimes it's just a wee bit too precious, I know!

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  6. OK, I just have to say that it's been like 2 weeks since I've eaten a vegetable (ok, that's a lie, but I can't say I've been eating super cleanly lately, what with the stress at work). That salad made me feel the urge to start mainlining parsley.

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    1. It really takes planning and time and energy to do the clean eating, doesn't it? Or having someone at home cooking. . . .
      You already had that shelled, soft-cooked egg thing down, didn't you?!

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  7. Quinoa is native to the Andes and we were introduced to it when we lived there. But I never really cooked much with it until a few years ago. I do like it and make a tabbouleh-like salad with it, replacing the wheat with quinoa. Lots of lemon and parsley, cucumbers and tomatoes - yum.
    This afternoon I went out and cut a huge basket of kale from the garden. It's time to get those beds cleaned out for new plantings in a couple of months. I chopped it all up and sauteed it in olive oil until softened, then added minced garlic for a few minutes. Two dinner-sized containers went into the freezer and another is sitting in a gratin dish in the fridge for tomorrow night's dinner. I'll top it with a little cheese and heat it up at 400 degrees for a few minutes. I haven't been able to get into eating kale raw. It's so chewy. Maybe, as you've suggested, massaging it more would help. Your salad looks delicious - very French with the egg on top.

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    1. You keep inspiring me to want to grow vegetables. . . not quite inspire me to dig and plant and weed, etc., but I think about it and wish I had someone to do all the work . . . et oui, j'aime bien l'oeuf mollet!

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  8. As a matter of fact, I had to look up kale in the dictionary....only to find out that it is very well known around here under the (German) name of "green (or brown) cabbage". It is only available in winter, because its taste improves after freezing in the field at least once. We eat it with a special type of sausage, and as it is a very traditional dish, every family has its own recipe handed down through the generations. It would never have ocurred to me to eat it raw in a salad, much less mixed with fruit. How extraordinary!

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    1. Yes, I can imagine from that perspective it would seem very odd -- it did take me some getting used to, the raw kale, but I've come to like it, even mixed with fruit! ;-)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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