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Posts Tagged ‘healthy salads’

My continuing research about how to improve my overall health, has led me to modify my diet so that it’s 70 to 80 percent fruits and vegetables, with a little starch and protein to round it out. I am primarily eating fish (every possible kind of seafood) and fowl (chicken and duck) for my protein, which is what I relied on for my main source of protein for the 24 years I didn’t “eat mammal.” I try to get my starch from healthy sources like sweet potatoes, but I’m half Japanese, so I regularly eat rice. I’m also not one to give up all comfort foods, so I occasionally make gluten-free pasta using brown rice or chickpea flour pastas, which the kids love. I often toss the pasta with chicken sausage, braised chard and fresh tomatoes to “health it up.” And since dairy and I remain estranged, the only dairy I consume is a little grass-fed butter, ghee and organic whole-milk, Greek-style yogurt on occasion.

Since my diet is mainly focused on vegetables, I’m reframing my idea of what constitutes a meal. I grew up with the idea that dinner included a main dish–usually involving meat, accompanied by a simple salad and cooked vegetable. My new favorite thing to do is cook 3-4 vegetable side dishes, which together with a little protein make a fun, nutritious and not-at-all-boring meal in which there is not necessarily an obvious “main dish.” And I truly dislike eating salad for the sake of eating salad, so I’m continually searching for salads that feel like a meal in and of themselves.

I made, served and ate this particular salad this past summer, but it’s really a dish for all seasons, and all its ingredients are readily available year-round. It’s from the Jerusalem cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamimi. I’m a huge fan of all Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, having first discovered his incredibly delicious food in a tiny shop off Kensington High Street when I lived in London many moons ago. I was new to London–and newly pregnant, and stumbled upon the tiny shop purely by accident. Even though I lived in London only a few years, I considered a takeout meal from the shop a special treat. I fondly remember marveling at all the delectable looking dishes displayed in tiers in the shop front window. My mouth would instantly start watering upon seeing the array of colorful vegetable dishes and beautiful, yet simple desserts. Everything was fresh, flavorful and colorful. What I appreciate most about Ottolenghi’s cooking is that (most of) the dishes are relatively simple to make relying heavily on an abundance of spices and variety of textures. It’s what makes his food beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

Most of the recipes I share on my site are completely my own invention, or they are ones I’ve modified from someone else’s recipe, or developed by combining various parts of several people’s recipes. However, this one I want to share as is because it’s perfect just as it is. One caveat is that I’ve been making it so often that I’ve stopped measuring the ingredients, and it’s fair to say you have a lot of leniency with this recipe; a little extra this or a little less that still results in a delicious salad.

Ingredients

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

3-1/2 oz/100 g pitted, Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

2 small pitas, roughly torn into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup/75 g whole unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped

2 tsp sumac

1/2 tsp chile flakes

5 oz/150 g baby spinach leaves

2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice

salt

Preparation

Place the dates and onion slices in a small bowl. Add the vinegar and pink of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes.

While the date mixture is marinating, heat the butter and half the olive oil in a medium frying pan. (I use my 10-inch cast-iron pan.) Add the pita and almonds and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Note: The Ottolenghi recipe actually says to cook the pita for 4 to 6 minutes, but that has never been enough for me, so maybe our US pita cooks differently. Remove from the heat and mix in the sump, chili flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside too cool.

To serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large bowl. Drain off and discard any extra vinegar from the date/onion mixture before adding the dates and onion to the spinach. Add the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Adjust seasoning as desired and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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I hope you are in a safe place–both physically and emotionally. Last week was a very difficult one for our nation, for our nation’s black community, and for many of us individually.

I won’t begin to think I am informed enough or experienced enough to talk about the struggles that so many people of color still face today across our nation. What I will say is that I am fully aware of my white (half-Asian, actually) privilege, and I remind my children of it regularly–not just speaking of the color of their skin, but also the circumstances into which they were born.

But above all else, I try to teach them to treat everyone with kindness and compassion, to look beyond any outward appearance or labels (e.g. black/white, gay/straight, racist/antiracist). After all, while there may be an occasional bad egg amongst all the good ones, racism is born out of ignorance, and it’s often born into. Our country is vast, our neighborhoods are mostly still segregated, and that ignorance is allowed to continue year after year, generation after generation.

I do believe we all have a responsibility to be actively antiracist, and we have a responsibility to seek to understand.

I stress-bake, and I stress-eat, so was doing a lot of both last week. Luckily, I still managed to keep it healthy. Here’s a dish that’s colorful, tasty and easy to prepare (although you need to allow 30 minutes to cook the farro and 35-40 minutes to roast the beets). You might be thinking, wait, isn’t she gluten-free? No, I’m not. I rarely eat gluten, but I have no obvious intolerance to it, and indulge occasionally when it’s something I really like, such as farro–because I just love the texture and slightly nutty flavor, and a good loaf of pain levain.

Farro, like Einkhorn, hasn’t gone through all the hybridization that modern wheat has (which has significantly increased the gluten content of today’s wheat), so it’s largely believed to be much the same grain as it was more than 100 years ago. While it still poses real dangers to celiac individuals or anyone with high gluten sensitivity, it (luckily) can be enjoyed by the rest of us.

This recipe serves as a great main dish for lunch or a side dish for dinner, and it travels well for a picnic at the beach. You can also make it vegan by leaving out the feta, although it changes the flavor profile.

 

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 cups cooked farro*

2 golden beets roasted at 375F until tender (about 35-40 minutes)

1 cup mixed radishes, trimmed and quartered

2 oz feta (I use a sheep’s milk version)

3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

* Place 1 cup of farro in a medium saucepan. Wash and rinse 2-3 times. Add two cups water and place over medium-high heat. When the water begins to boil, turn down the heat, cover the pan and simmer the farro for 30 minutes. Drain off any excess water.

 

Preparation

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar. Set aside.

Carefully peel the skin off the beets, and slice into 1/2-inch chunks. Place in a medium bowl. Add in the radishes, fresh herbs and oil and vinegar mixture and toss to combine thoroughly. Add in the feta and toss again. Season with salt and pepper

Best served immediately, still slightly warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!

(Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side. Adapted from http://www.bonappetit.com)

 

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kale salad closekale salad

 

I don’t think I managed to post anything last week–except for a few pictures of some yummy bites on Instagram (@eatwellwithmoira). Spring has sprung here in Northern California, and I wanted to get the garden planted. I¬†can ignore the vegetables gone to seed and the lavender with woody stocks while it’s cold and/or wet outside, but when the sun settles in for a long stay, I feel desperate to get the garden sorted and looking good. I also happen to like gardening, so you won’t find me outside directing someone else to cut here, prune there, dig here and plant there. Granted, after trimming over 300 shoots/branches off of our apple tree, while balanced on the second from the top step of an 8-foot ladder, I called in reinforcements (my husband) to finish the job. It works best if I do at least half the trimming¬†first, since the guilt of seeing me out there toiling in the sun tends to make him want to prove he can operate a saw and pruning shears, too. However, he leaves all the digging, mulching and planting to me.

Where’s the photo of the garden, you ask? Well, since many of the new plants start out small, it looks nice and orderly out back, but not particularly lush and filled in yet. I will post something at the peak of summer, when the garden is in full bloom and worthy of a photo.

Now back to the recipe at hand… Before you say to yourself (or outloud), “Not another kale salad!” Try this recipe. Even my 6-year-old son loves it! It’s naturally sweet thanks to the sliced beets and apple, and the creamy dressing softens–sort of tenderizes, the kale, allowing all the flavors and textures to come together perfectly. And best of all, the dressing is so incredibly creamy that you will swear someone must have snuck in some real cream (i.e., dairy). I think this dressing could work well with a lot of other salads, too.

You can pull together this dish in minutes, but if you have a little extra time and the inclination, I’d recommend roasting the beet for about 20 minutes to soften it ever so slightly. If you don’t have the time or feel a little lazy like me, just slice the beet into very thin slices.

 

Ingredients

1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled and seed removed

2 tbsp champagne vinegar

2 tsp quality Dijon mustard

2 tbsp nut oil or extra-virgin olive oil*

Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper

1 bunch curly kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped

1 small red beet, peeled and thinly sliced

1 crisp apple, such as Fuji, cored and cut into thin wedges

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted

 

Preparation

In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the avocado, vinegar, mustard, and oil. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. (It will be very thick, like a pudding.)

In a large bowl, toss the kale with the beet and apple slices. Toss again with the dressing. Adjust the seasoning and give a final toss with the walnuts. Serve immediately.

 

Enjoy!

 

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