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.

IMG_3764

IMG_3765

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.

IMG_3767

IMG_3768

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.

IMG_3773

IMG_3774

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

signature3

mediterranean chickpea salad

Back in the spring of 2012 my girlfriends and I decided to spend a Saturday afternoon cooking at a class that was held in Harlem through Jackie Arnett, where we learned to prepare simple and healthy Middle Eastern food. It was at this class that I was introduced to a new spice, Aleppo pepper. Aleppo pepper originates from the city of Aleppo which was along the Silk Road in northern Syria which now includes Turkey. When ripe the pepper becomes a burgundy color and then is dried, de-seeded and ground coarsely to be used along other Middle Eastern spices like sumac, paprika, and dried mint. Aleppo pepper has a very mild heat level with some fruitiness and mild cumin undertones and has been described as being similar to the ancho chile in flavor profile. I was able to find Aleppo pepper at a a spice shop right in Murray Hill called Kalustyan’s. If you are in search of a particular spice or sauce this is the place to go. I went to look for some Aleppo pepper and ended up pacing the aisles for about an hour doing some good ole food exploring. Ok, enough of the back story about this recipe…it is time to get cooking!

mediterranean chickpea salad

adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

This recipe is perfect for someone that cooks for one. It will make 3 servings

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1/2 jar of roasted red bell peppers (6 oz of 12 oz jar)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (mine came from straight from my mother’s garden)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of capers

Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon caper brine
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, use a microplane to mince
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon EVOO
  • salt and pepper to taste

1.)  Drain chickpeas and rinse with water in a colander. Be sure you allow ample time for the chickpeas to drain well and dry thoroughly.

drain

2.) Heat EVOO in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add chickpeas and Aleppo pepper and brown and saute until golden for about 10 minutes. Gently toss chickpeas so they are well coated with the Aleppon pepper. After cooking the chickpeas, remove from the stove and cool.

skillet

3.) While your chickpeas are cooking, chop roasted red peppers, mint and measure capers. Make sure all these ingredients are well drained.

cutting board

4.) Combine all dressing ingredients together and whisk thoroughly.

5.) Mix chickpeas, roasted red peppers, mint, capers, and dressing in a salad bowl. Stir until the ingredients are well coated. You can serve this salad immediately or allow a few hours-overnight in the fridge for the dressing to really work its magic and marinate.

close up finished finished

I’ve made this recipe for a healthy homemade lunch option and doubled it to take to a picnic in Central Park. The opportunities to use this recipe are endless. Have you cooked with Aleppo pepper before? What other recipes do you think you can incorporate this spice into?

signature3

kale greek salad: salute to the new “cool kid” in greens

Growing up, my mom exposed me to vegetables all the time in order to bring an end to my picky eater ways . Her persistence paid off as now I am a vegetable lover (Go Mom!). To this day, she visits the local farmer’s marketing in NJ and picks out new fruits and vegetables for us to try all the time.

My mom and I actually discovered kale, our focus for today’s recipe, back in the fall of 2011. I frequently visited the the salad bar at Whole Foods in Union Square for lunch and we re-created one of their staples, garlicky kale. That recipe used uncooked kale which was just too bitter and unappetizing for my taste buds. I knew I had to come up with something  that could be a quick and easy go-to weekday recipe AND give me all the nutrients I need to satisfy my post-workout hunger pains.

Kale has become the new “cool kid” in the world of green leafy vegetables (spinach was kicked to the curb).  It is part of the cabbage family and full of beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium. It also helps prevent the growth of cancer cells, lower cholesterol and decrease absorption of dietary fat. Simply put, you should start eating it and there is no better way to start then with my Kale Greek Salad!

Kale Greek Salad

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of white beans (half of a can, rinsed)
  • 1/2  of cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, diced
  • Few sprinkles of crumbled feta cheese (to your liking)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil (1/2 tablespoon for cooking the kale, 1 tablespoon for the dressing)
  • 2 tablespoons of champagne wine vinegar
  • 1 squirt of honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

1.) Wash and remove the center ribs and stems from the kale. Chop these into small bite size pieces. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. In the meantime, finely chop your garlic. Saute garlic in olive oil for 1 minute. Once you start to smell the garlic and see it slowly browning, throw in your chopped kale and vegetable broth. Stir and then cover for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, if necessary, cook until all the broth has evaporated. This may take an additional 1-2 minutes. Once the broth has evaporated, place the kale with chopped garlic in a salad bowl to cool.

kale

kale_3

2.) Complete the preparation work for the rest of your vegetables – red onion, white beans, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and roasted red peppers. Once your kale has cooled, place all the veggies into your salad bow. Sprinkle crumbled feta cheese based on your taste. If you are not a fan of one of the vegetables consider other add-ins like pine nuts, black olives, or chick peas.

vegetables

whitebeans

salad

3.) Make your dressing by combing your remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar, and squirt of honey. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and whisk together. Pour dressing over salad and toss.

dressing

4.) It is time to eat! Enjoy!

smallbowl

This batch left me with two entree servings for myself. After having my dinner, I packed it up for lunch. The salad with dressing became tastier over night so I highly recommend packing this for a homemade lunch to enjoy at work. This creation has left me officially in love with kale.

Do you have a favorite kale recipe? What is your favorite green leafy vegetable? How do you prepare it?

signature3