Tag Archives: Kale

Wild Rice Kale Gratin


Sorry for the posting delay. The end of last week was a bit busy. Here’s that promised side dish I’ve been raving about for the last week or so:

As mentioned, I made this for a dinner that I hosted for a few of my high school friends. I am a big fan of kale–especially in the winter. It’s so crunchy and good for you; I can almost feel my arteries clearing up while I eat it. And then I go do things like add it to a gratin and counteract all that artery-clearing with some cheese. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

This recipe comes from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I wrote about last week. It’s a great dish for a crowd; one recipe fed eight of us with plenty of leftover for my lunches (and dinner) over the weekend. Plus the bites of kale and caramelized onion just go so well with the nutty wild rice. Plus, who can resist a dish with a cheesy-panko topping?

So visualize healthy thoughts while you eat this. I’m sure that it counteracts the cheese? Conversely, maybe all the kale intake will inspire you to go to the gym. In any case, you only live once. Might as well eat happy. Continue reading


Winter Kale Salad


Yesterday was uncharacteristically warm, topping off at over 60 degrees with tons of sunshine and practically no wind. Given that D.C. has been in the 20s and 30s since Inauguration weekend, this random burst of warmth was quite welcome. I wore a dress for the first time in ages and gave my wool coat a break as I opted for a vest.

Don’t get me wrong; I love cold weather. But cold winter days have a tendency to put me in a rut, both wardrobe-wise and foodwise. Not only do I pile on layer upon layer of sweaters and coats, but I also feel like I need hearty, filling food to cope with the season. The problem is that most comfort food consists of rich stews, roasted chickens, and lentil- or bean-filled chili or soup. Needless to say, one gets really sick of eating the “brown” food group most of the time, and yesterday’s weather was the perfect reason to break this habit.

I tried to stick to winter-friendly ingredients–things that you can find in plentitude during the cold season. The crunchy kale pairs well with the bold flavor of blood oranges and the sometimes sharp bites of fennel. Plus, combining blood orange juice with sherry vinaigrette produces a dressing with the perfect amount of tang. And–personal health plug–this salad is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Total win.

So here’s to incorporating color into your winter menu. Happy eating.

** Side note: I’ll post the promised Smitten Kitchen side dish on Friday. I just thought the weather called for a salad post!

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Revamped Thanksgiving Staples

Recently, I’ve had a few people ask me, “Megan, do you have any good Thanksgiving recipes?”  Well, boy do I.  I have lots of terrific, tried, tested, and approved recipes for Thanksgiving, and I would love to share them with you.

Now, years back, when we used to live in DC, we would drive to Ohio for Thanksgiving and spend it with our families.  As guests, we usually didn’t do much cooking, but one year, I asked if I could try my hand at preparing the turkey.  My mother-in-law was kind enough to allow me to do so, and I was able to test Martha Stewart’s recipe for a brined turkey that I had been dying to try.  It was my first time fixing a turkey, and I was nervous—especially since generations of family members were doubting my techniques—but in the end, it was a total success.  The bird was moist and flavorful with a crispy skin.  What more could you ask for?

Once we moved to New York, however, Thanksgiving changed.  Instead of returning to Ohio to be with our families, we fix a feast here and invite friends over.  It has been a lot of fun, and it has allowed me to be as OCD about Thanksgiving dinner as I want to.  You see, I grew up not loving Thanksgiving.  I mean, I loved the family togetherness, but I’m not a mashed-potato-lover, and yams covered in marshmallows don’t get me excited.  In fact, the only food I really looked forward to on Turkey Day was the pie.

But once I got full control of the menu, I was able to revamp it and reinvent the “perfect Thanksgiving dinner.”  I stay true to the basics—turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, etc.—but prepare them in a more modern, if you will, fashion.

Below is a list of links to my favorite recipes.  These are recipes that will, no doubt, be on my Thanksgiving table this year.  I hope they make it on yours as well!

Brandon's lovely "tablescape"

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Winter Greens

As the temperature begins to drop (or if you are in NYC, bounces between 65 and 85 degrees), the local produce begins to change.  In place of tomatoes and peppers, we are seeing squash and root vegetables.  Of all of the fall and winter vegetables, my favorite, hands down, are the greens.  From kale to swiss chard to collards, I’m in love.  There are simply no other veggies that I actually crave.

What makes winter greens so great is how simple they are to prepare and how few ingredients are needed to make a tasty side dish (mostly just pantry staples).  The recipe below is a rough one.  I switch things around all of the time.  For the oil, I will use rendered bacon fat (and will top the finished greens with the crisped bacon).  For the red wine vinegar, I’ll sometimes throw in some balsamic.  If I don’t have shallots on hand, I will finely chop a little onion.  This recipe is all about flexibility and ease.

If you haven’t tried these leafy greens before, take a chance.  There are so many out there.  In addition to the aforementioned ones, try escarole and mustard greens.  Each is packed with vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and beta-carotene.  In addition to this easy side dish, they can be tossed into pastas and soups.  They are versatile, and did I mention, they’re delicious? Continue reading

Kale and White Bean Soup

The weather on the East Coast has been interesting to say the least. After weeks of ridiculously cold and dreary weather, we’re now benefitting from 70-degree days and lots of sunshine. While the sunshine has definitely made my commute much better, I can’t help but wonder where the fall temperatures are. I expected October to be a bit chillier; it seems wrong that the pumpkins and fall decor are out when the weather is decidedly spring-like. After all, I can’t justify my search for a new fall jacket if there are no fall winds to be found…

In my eagerness for fall weather, I decided to make some white bean soup. This recipe makes a pretty sizable amount of food, and  I usually freeze some of the leftovers so that there is something to eat when the temperatures finally drop. While I was never much of a soup person before, I’ve found that bean soups are becoming an increasingly important part of my diet. They have just the right amount of protein, and it doesn’t hurt that they are easy to make and super budget-friendly.

You don’t have to use kale in this soup–any dark green will work (though I have found spinach to be a bit too watery for my liking). The recipe is pretty versatile and can be made with just white beans or with a variety of different ones; I just love the white beans because of their creaminess. Feel free to reduce the stock by half if you would like to make this into more of a stew (which I love to eat with an egg over easy and some toast. Yum!). You can also omit the bacon and just use a bit of butter or olive oil if you’d like to make the dish vegetarian or vegan. And, as always, wine can be replaced with some extra broth.

Happy Eating!

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