Tag Archives: vegetables

Baked Eggs with Bacon, Squash, and Kale Hash

26 Jan

I eat almost the exact same thing for breakfast every day of the work week. In the colder months, it’s oatmeal with whatever dried fruit i have in the pantry and a sprinkling of toasted nuts. When the weather warms, I change over to yogurt and granola with fresh fruit, with the occassional change-over from yogurt to kefir, which is…drinkable yogurt. Pretty boring, right? But when I need to get out the door quickly )because I’ve overslept  again, and then idled too long in the shower’s warmth, and forgotten that I needed to pack my bag for yoga after work), these breakfast standards are easy and reliable, and I actually really never get sick of eating them.

Baked Eggs with Bacon, Squash, and Kale Hash

But on the weekends…I’m a sucker for a good breakfast. In my mind, going out for brunch is the ultimate urban luxury, and I do it as often as possible, but I can’t justify spending $20 for a couple of eggs and a plate of fried potatoes every single Sunday. Even if the eggs are fresh out of the happiest, most organic, free range chicken that ever lived, with yolks the color of sunshine and laughter. It’s just not in my best financial interest to indulge  my brunch habit weekly.

So today, I made my own brunch and there wasn’t a fried potato in sight. It cost way less than $20, and I got to eat it sitting on the couch with my favorite guy while watching cartoons for grown ups. It was luxurious in its own way.

Tomorrow, I’m back on oatmeal.

Baked Eggs with Bacon, Squash, and Kale Hash 

2 strips bacon, finely diced
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
2 cups torn kale leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons fresh minced sage
salt and pepper
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until it is crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon grease and discard the rest.

Toss the squash, onion, and kale with the garlic, olive oil, 1 tablespoon of bacon grease, thyme, sage, and a generous amount of salt and pepper until everything is well coated. Divide onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets and roast, rotating the pans and stirring the vegetables after 15 minutes. Continue roasting until the squash is fork-tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Spray an 7 x 11 baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer the vegetables into the pan and stir in the cooked bacon bits. Press down on the vegetables so they form an even layer. Crack each egg into a small ramekin and pour slowly it over the vegetables so that the yolk doesn’t break. Repeat with the rest of the eggs, cracking and pouring each egg over the hash, one at a time. Sprinkle the eggs with additional salt and pepper and parmesan cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the whites of the eggs are set, but the yolks are still loose, between 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle with additional cheese.

Makes 3-4 servings, depending on how hung over you are from Saturday night.

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How To Trick People Into Eating Anchovies – Roughed Up Kale Salad

12 Jan

Roughed Up Kale Salad

 

I had a lovely afternoon yesterday. My sister and her daughter took me out on the town as a belated birthday present. We had matinée tickets to The Little Prince at Lookingglass Theater, and beforehand we dined at Bar Toma, a restaurant just steps off of Michigan Avenue. We were “ladies who lunch,” if just for the day.

The menu at Bar Toma includes antipasti, salads, a few sandwiches, and several pizzas baked quickly in a wood-burning oven. My sister briefly glanced at the menu, and suggested that I pick out a couple of things to share and order for the both of us.

This was a bold move on her part. She’s not picky, but she tends to stick to the standards on a menu. I, on the other hand, am a little more…adventurous when it comes to eating. I’ve willingly eaten crickets and worms. I’m in to offal. And I’m not afraid to order food from the seediest looking street vendor in a foreign country. I just want an authentic experience!

I asked her if she was sure, and then placed our order with our server. One Kale Salad, coming up! Maura and Kaia had never had kale before, which we discussed briefly before I ordered. I knew that the kale wouldn’t be an issue because they’re both salad-loving people. The salad arrived to the table looking fresh and delicious, the kale left in large pieces and fading from dark green at the edges to vibrant purple in the center. There was a soft-boiled egg quartered and laid over the top, and garlicky, crunchy breadcrumbs generously spooned over. We dug in and all three of us loved it.

Several bites into the salad I revealed that the dressing was an anchovy vinaigrette. The world stood still for a split second, before my niece’s chewing mouth fell into a frown. She was pretty disgusted, and I was pretty amused. If either one of them had seen that description on the menu, that salad wouldn’t have ended up in our bellies, much less on our table.

Anchovies get a bad wrap. Sure, as whole fillets they look totally prehistoric and disgusting. I get that. Even I’m weirded out by whole anchovies! But when finely chopped, they melt into whatever you’re combining them with, adding flavor through salt and their natural oil. If you’ve eaten a real, from scratch Caesar Salad, then you’ve eaten anchovies, because they’re a big component in Caesar dressing, too. See? No biggie! Anchovies are delicious!

So, we had a lovely meal, and both Kaia and Maura came away anchovy lovers, even if they’re not ready to admit it. I’m thinking of printing them up t-shirts that say “ANCHOVY LOVER”, with a huge whole fillet right underneath, but I suspect that they would never get worn. That’s okay. Down the road, if either of them considers eating something that contains anchovies, then my work here is done.

If you would like to ease into the flavor of anchovies, give this salad a shot. It’s a riff off of what we ate for lunch, and it’s darn good as a main course, or along side grilled chicken or shrimp.

Roughed Up Kale Salad

10 ounces red new potatoes, washed and quartered
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 shallot, finely minced
4 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
3.5 ounces fresh kale (about 1/2 a bunch), cut roughly into 2 in. pieces, washed and dried
4 dried apricots, cut into strips
2 radishes, sliced paper-thin
1/4 cup roasted pistachios

Place the potatoes in a saucepan and fill with enough cold water to cover the potatoes by at least an inch. Season the water with salt. Cook over high heat until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

In a saute pan, cook the breadcrumbs and butter over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Season with a bit of salt while they’re still warm, and remove from pan.

In the same saute pan, heat the olive oil. Add the minced garlic, minced shallot, and chopped anchovy fillets and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the shallot is translucent and the garlic is very fragrant. Transfer to a small food processor or to a pestle and mortar. Add the lemon juice and dijon mustard and process until it is emulsified, but still a bit chunky from the shallot and garlic.

Pour the warm dressing over the kale and use your hands to squeeze and coat it in the dressing. This is often called “massaging” the kale, but what you really need to do is rough it up a little so that it softens to a more appealing texture. After it’s been crunched together for a minute, and the leaves are all well coated, leave the salad to rest for 10 to 15 minutes, and the leaves will continue to tenderize.

Add the cooked potatoes, sliced apricots and radishes, and pistachios and toss to coat. Give it a taste and add additional salt, pepper, lemon juice, or olive oil as needed. The flavors tend to get lost in the kale, so you will likely use more salt and pepper than you would think necessary. Just before serving, top with the toasted breadcrumbs.

Serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as a side dish.

Veggie Corn Dogs and Broccoli Raab

29 Jun

Also known as Friday Night Dinner.

Corn

Broccoli raab has many monikers. Brocciletti, rapini, broccoli rabe…call it what you will. This bunch is special because we grew it in our backyard. Cooked in a little olive oil with a few drops of lemon juice, salt, and pepper, it is bitter and tangy.

I don’t know of any pseudonyms for corn dogs, but I like them anyway, even in vegetarian form. Morningstar makes a good one. They taste just like the real thing. A little “junk food” balanced with some healthy greens to start the weekend.

Note Chef Jonathon’s artistic placement of the ketchup and mustard. As if you could ignore it!

Summer Salads

26 Jun

I’m not a big salad eater. Never have been. But there’s something about digging into a big, colorful bowl of vegetables when the temperature outside is soaring…it makes me feel virtuous.

That feeling usually lasts until I am digging into a big, chilly bowl of ice cream approximately 2 hours later. Hey, nutrition is all about balance and moderation, right?

Salads and ice cream: two foods meant for summer days.

Here’s a simple spinach salad that we ate a couple of weeks ago. Easy-peasy.

Baby spinach leaves + grilled chicken breast + chopped cucumber + chopped strawberries + green onions + candied walnuts + spicy apple cider vinaigrette.

More about the ice cream in the coming months!

Spinach Salad with Strawberries

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

Handy Endive and Orange Salads

13 Jan

It’s absolutely pronounced “on-deev.” It’s also absolutely one of the fastest ways to add something refreshing and light to a table full of party-friendly finger foods. See that dirty plate? It’s messy because a lot of these suckers had been gobbled up before they got their photo opp.

Endive Salad

Handy Endive and Orange Salads

It only takes a few minutes to make a plateful of these appetizers. They’re creamy, crunchy, and fresh all at once. No exact measurements here – it would be a waste of time to scale out the ingredients in these handheld salads. Just eyeball it, taste the first one you make, and adjust from there.

Handy Endive and Orange Salads

Toast some walnuts and let them cool down. If you’re using walnut halves, give them a rough chop so that they’re less enormous.  Cut the rind and pith off of a few oranges.  Supreme the oranges, if you’re feeling fancy,  and cut each segment into bite-sized pieces. Wash up a couple bulbs of endive and carefully tear off the outer leaves. If you’re rough with it, the leaves might crack in the center instead of separating at the root, so wear your kid gloves, okay? Arrange the leaves on a platter. Fill each leaf with a few bits of juicy orange, a sprinkling of crunchy nuts, a few small plops of goat cheese, a sprinkling of fresh minced chives, and a bit of kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil to finish them off.

 

Holiday Side Dish – Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Cranberries

27 Nov

For generations, brussels sprouts have gotten an unwarranted bad wrap. If you were force-fed these teeny tiny cabbages as a child, and they came to the table all gray and mushy, odds are you’re still harboring ill will. When they’re prepared correctly though, brussels sprouts are crisp-tender and ready to take on flavors. Over the past few years, brussels sprouts have finally come into their own, appearing on restaurant menus all over the place. They’re often cooked with something porky, like the pancetta in this recipe. There’s a lot of textures going on in this dish – crunchy pine nuts, snappy cranberries, and crisp pancetta against the fork-tender vegetables. It’s pretty to look at, and it’s tasty to eat.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Cranberries

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