Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category

Kale with Seaweed and Ginger Recipe

Friday, December 10th, 2010

How to cook Lacinato Kale

I have been experimenting with cooking Kale for a few years now and keep finding it to be one of my favorite green vegetables for side dishes, salads or even stand along dishes like the suddenly popping up everywhere kale chips that are in every health store in town these days. This bitter green seems to be much less common than other standard salad or side counterparts like spinach, arugula or Swiss chard, but is extremely versatile and is very easy to make.

One of my favorite ways to cook Kale is simply boiling it in water with a dash of vinegar and a pinch of salt for no more than 4-5 minutes, as in this kale and seaweed recipe below. Then you can dress it up more or less with anything you like from simple oil and lemon to nuts, chili flakes or anything that you might enjoy.

Kale with seaweed and ginger


1 Bunch of Lacinato Kale

1 Tablespoon of dry Seaweed

few slices of pickled or fresh ginger

Tablespoon of sesame oil

Juice of ½ Meyer Lemon

Optional: Sesame seeds, Chili flakes

Take a tablespoon of dry seaweed, put it in a cup and reconstitute it by pouring boiling hot water over it. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a 3-4 qt saucepan bring ½ of a pot of water to boil. Add a dash of salt and a tablespoon of vinegar and add Kale. Boil no longer than 4-5 minutes. Drain in the colander, making sure there is no access water left.  Add reconstituted seaweed and thinly sliced ginger on top and squeeze lemon juice over kale and dress with sesame oil. Additionally, you can sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and / or chili flakes over this dish.

Tips & Tricks:

Do not overcook Kale – it will turn rubbery and chewy as well as loose its’ color. You need to use a dash of vinegar in your water and dress with lemon first to prevent kale from discoloration.

You can get dry seaweed in Whole Foods or any local Japanese store. You don’t have to use seaweed – skip it altogether and use olive oil instead of sesame.

I usually serve this for dinner with pan-roasted halibut, salmon or other fish and seafood. It also works very well as a side to a slice of pizza


Grilled Avocado Salad

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Here in California, salads are fun to experiment with because there is such a tremendous availability of fresh vegetables. Let me put it this way – we have it good here: when I lived in Europe the only type of salad you could eat was potato salad.

My main principles for making salad are: use different ingredients every time you make salad (improvise), have fun pairing leaves with other ingredients, understand which textures are similar and which are different and bring both into one bowl, and also be aware of strong flavors and keep those to one or two at most to avoid clashing. Vinaigrette is the soul of your salad – think about what goes there before you make it. (Examples: If it’s an Asian-slaw you are making, you might want to consider a few dashes of toasted sesame oil, if leaves are coarse and crunchy (like romaine) some mustard and fresh herbs would do it good, and if leaves are soft and buttery, then use high quality, peppery green olive oil, etc)

The soul of this salad really lies in the simplicity of its vinaigrette (dressing), and the well thought out textures of the ingredients. Here I pair buttery baby lettuces, toasted pine nuts and the smoky flavors of grilled avocado with rich olive oil and a dash of high quality mandarin flavored balsamic. I add a little crunch to this salad with paper-thin slices of radishes and a few grinds of black pepper. The vinaigrette here (which, as mentioned earlier, gives SOUL to your salad) is primarily olive oil with just a few dashes of high-quality balsamic – a very simple vinaigrette (proportions are important, usually 3 (oil) to 1 (vinegar).


Grilled Avocado ½ per person

Radishes, razor thin sliced

Hearts of Palm, thin sliced

Baby Lettuces

Toasted pine nuts

Artichoke hearts (optional)

Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Grilling Avocado:

Grilled Avocados

Grilled Avocados

Generously brush sliced in half avocado with olive oil and then add it green side down to a well-preheated griddle or grill. Keep on a grill for 4-5 minutes letting avocado brown well. Meanwhile toss leaves, radishes, hearts of palm and pine nuts into a bowl, then gently mix together. Add vinaigrette and toss a few more times. Flip avocado on the other side and keep on the grill for a few more minutes. Plate your salad in small bowls and arrange avocado on the side of the plate. Shave large but thin pieces of Parmesan on the top of your salad. Add a few dashes of balsamic, olive oil and a pinch of salt to avocado. Smoked salt works particularly well.

Tips & Tricks:

Grilling avocado is a must here – that’s where the flavor of this otherwise mellow and gentle salad comes from. Pine nuts are important as well – they add both great texture and flavor. Believe or not, salt really matters when added to avocado.

Vinaigrette is the key: use high quality, rich oil and smooth flavorful balsamic, restrain yourself from adding other stuff to it (like mustard, shallots, etc – other classic vinaigrette favorites) Simplicity is indeed the way to go. (Read Marcus Aurelius if you think I am kidding)