kale, chicken, and quinoa salad

With the arrival of my favorite season, fall, comes unhealthy eating habits — consuming excessive amounts of Halloween candy (in particular, twix bars), obsessing over all baked goods (in particular, pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream), and last but not least, holiday parties where all the dieting rules go out the window. During the week I do my best to make healthy choices and say no to the second glass of red wine (sometimes). This is the perfect entrance for my kale, chicken, and quinoa salad. The combination of these 3 very ingredients will leave you feeling full even though you’re technically eating a salad. It all means it will be easier to fight off those pesky cravings I mentioned earlier.

Recipe serves about 2-4. Adapted from Aida Mollenkamp

kale preparation

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

dressing

  • 1/4 cup 2% greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 sprigs of mint (fresh from mom’s garden)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 pinches of red pepper flakes ( i like everything with heat)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

salad extras

  • 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 cup shredded chicken
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (tri-color might add some color to your plate)
  • 3/4 cup cannellini beans
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 persian cucumbers, diced
  • 1 oz or so of crumbled feta (add a little extra if you are a cheese lover)

1.)  Prepare your kale by removing the center rib and chopping the leaves into bite sized pieces and place into a plastic/ceramic mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and gently massage the kale with your heads until he starts wilting. You may need to use the other half of your lemon. Once you are done massaging your kale, put to the side for 10-15 minutes while you prepare your dressing and salad extras.

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2.) In a food processor, combine all dressing ingredients until smooth. Be sure to add additional herbs/seasonings to taste. I like doubling the dressing recipe so that I can add an extra dollop to my salad, guilt-free or use it the next day as a dip for carrots, or turkey kebabs.

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3.) Heat your EVOO in a pan and add your ground cuimin until you can smell its aroma. Pour this on top of your shredded chicken and add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix well.

4.) Plate your kale and each layer of salad ingredients — chicken, quinoa, garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers. Top your salad off with your yogurt dressing and feta cheese.

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Have you incorporated kale into your diet? If so, what is your favorite go-to kale recipe?

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orzo eggplant bake

I’m back! With summer came weekend trips, weddings, family time, and enjoying the sunshine. I’ve been eating, cooking, and going on adventures but writing seemed to take the back seat. My sincere apologies. Now that we have a rather warm start to fall, I figured it would be a good idea to provide an ode to one of my new favorite dishes I’ve made a few times over the last few weeks. Beautiful vine ripe tomatoes are still available at the farmer’s markets and stores so grab some, an eggplant, and get in the kitchen to make this Orzo Eggplant Bake. This is a summer going into fall dish I found from one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen

Recipe serves four. I suggest taking some leftovers to work for lunch.

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stack, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces of orzo
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano (I used dried but fresh is always nice)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 4 ounces of fresh, firm mozzarella,
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3 medium vine-ripe tomatoes
  • cook spray
  • salt and pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes

1.)  Chop your eggplant into a large dice and place into a colander. Sprinkle eggplant generously with salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes. This will help all the moisture drain. After 30 minutes, dry the eggplant with a clean kitchen towel.

eggplant diced

2.) As you prepare the casserole, preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Heat a large nonstick skillets on medium-high heat with EVOO. Add the eggplant and stir fry for about 8 minutes until crispy and golden brown.  Place cooked eggplant on a paper towel lined plate for draining.

3.) In the same pan add the celery, carrots, and red peppers and cook for 3 minutes. When softened, add onion and garlic and continue to cook together for 5 minutes. At this point you can knock the heat down to medium to ensure the vegetables don’t burn too quickly.

veggies

veggies pan

3.) Add the orzo and tomato paste and mix together. After 2 minutes of cook time, turn off the heat. Move your pan to an unused burner on the stove and add the last of your ingredients: oregano, mozzarella, Parmesan, tomatoes, fried eggplant, stock, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Make sure you mix well.

orzo

everything

4.) Use some cooking spray on a 8×11 casserole dish. Pour your mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes covered with foil, and 25 additional minutes without foil. I cooked without foil for an extra 5 minutes because I liked the crunchy texture of the pasta. Minimize your time without foil if you prefer a smooth texture. Let your pasta rest for 10 minutes before serving to guests and packing your lunch.

final dish

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What is your favorite meal you make during a long transition between seasons? Have you been able to find ripe tomatoes in your local market now that we’re into October?

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