A Farmers Market Salad

farmers market salad

You’d never know it from this blog, but at 9 (!!) months pregnant, I’m still cooking dinner just about every night. Photos, too, are still being taken on a fairly regular basis, though they don’t often make it to my Flickr stream until days after the fact. As for the blogging… well, after commuting and work and more commuting and dinner-making and possibly ice cream, I’m lucky if I can keep my eyes open to read a chapter or two before passing out for the night. And I’m generally okay with that.

But I really had to tell you about this salad.

Farmers market season is in full swing here in New England, and between Providence and Boston, we could hit a market just about every day if we wanted. Though Mike and I are no longer just a short walk away, we still frequent the big Saturday market at Lippitt Park, and when we’re there, our friend Lynn (hi Lynn!) makes sure we don’t leave without a big bunch of kale.

Now, I like kale, I really do, but I had darn near run out of new or interesting ways to prepare it until I found a folded up page in the middle of a stack of old papers to be shredded. It was a printed list of specials from one of our favorite old NYC haunts, and as my eyes scanned the list of ingredients for this salad, I knew that even though I had never actually eaten it at any of our many visits to Diner, I’d have to try to replicate it at home.

sweet corn, shucked

I started with the dressing – a splash of red wine vinegar, a pinch of coarse sea salt, the juice of half a lemon, and a palmful of chopped fresh cilantro leaves, whisked together with just enough of our best olive oil to bring it all together. I added slivers of red onion next, allowing them to steep for a bit to lose their sharpness, then I added the kale – half a bunch or so, torn into manageable bites, tossing it with the dressing until the leaves were well-coated. Next came some fresh sweet corn (an ear’s worth of kernels), a couple of ripe white peaches, sliced, and finally, a shower of salty, crumbled Narragansett Creamery feta. Let it sit for a minute or five, until the kale softens up a bit. Then eat.

We ate this alongside Mike’s delicious brick chicken, but the salad was the star – an unexpected combination of flavors that worked just beautifully together. We each had two bowls of it, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be making this right through the end of summer.

No-sweat Cooking, Day 19

Kale Salad With Apples & Currants

31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via rachaelraymag.com, welcome!

So about that kale salad that went alongside last night’s brick chicken? In a word, wow. We love our kale around here but I had never gotten around to trying it raw, and this salad was a revelation.

The fun thing for us was that the salad was exactly the sort of thing we could imagine being served at our beloved Marlow and Sons, a beautifully balanced mix of textures and flavors, and endlessly adaptable with the seasons. As we ate, Mike and I talked about how we might riff on this as various things cycle through the farmers’ markets, and I expect some version of this kale salad is going to become a regular part of our dining repertoire.

Get the Recipe: Kale Salad with Apples & Currants

Simple Goodness

Tuscan Kale

When I walked past the Roots Farm table at the Wintertime Farmers’ Market on Saturday, this kale literally stopped me in my tracks. Now, I love my greens, but really, this bunch looked just perfect. And it was the last one in the bin, so I grabbed it. I knew I wanted to make this kale a major component of a meal, and that’s just what I did last night, combining it with a few simply prepared and richly flavorful sidekicks: Jacob’s Cattle beans, slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, and garlic confit.

While my beans simmered away, I prepped the kale, removing the tough stem ends and slicing the leaves into thin ribbons. I got out a wide sauté pan and added a spoonful or two of the infused oil from the garlic confit I made on Sunday, plus a pinch of red chile flakes. I tossed the kale in when the oil was shimmering, sprinkled on a pinch of salt, and tossed it all around. When the kale was a deep, glossy green, I pulled it out of the pan and put it in a serving bowl.


Then I added a cup or so of the intensely sweet slow-roasted tomatoes I also made on Sunday, plus 4 or 6 of my confited garlic cloves. I cooked them just long enough to warm them through, then turned off the heat, added a splash of champagne vinegar, and swirled it around in the pan. I drained the cooked beans, added them to the kale, then poured the tomato-garlic mixture over the top. It got a gentle toss before I spooned it into our bowls, and I finished each serving with some shards of Parmagiano Reggiano.

Dinner:  December 7, 2009

Simple. Hearty. Delicious.

LND: Bachelor edition

With Jen in New York for the Food52 launch party, I’m taking the reins for one day.

First up, a Kali update. She took a pretty dramatic turn yesterday, and I’m pleased to tell you it’s for the better. Her appetite, over the weekend and into late Tuesday, was still very minimal. All day Tuesday, she refused food, and that was where she was when I left for a bartender competition Tuesday evening. Jen came home and got her to at least sniff food and even lap up the aromatic gelatin from a can of Friskies, but Kali still wouldn’t take solid food. She did, however, accept the transdermal dosing of Pred I started giving her Tuesday afternoon.

Yesterday morning, things began to change. As Jen was getting ready for her trip to New York, she paused long enough to put down some dry food for the cats. As the kibbles pinged into their bowls, Jen saw Kali and her big blue eyes staring up at her next to her food dish. She ate with gusto, took a long drink of water, and ate again. She’s eaten well, consistently, since then. Now that she’s regained much of her energy and personality, though, she’s fighting the transdermal Pred a little. Not nearly so much as she battled against taking the oral dosing, though, so it’s manageable, at least for now.

As for last night’s dinner, I had some chicken leg quarters in the fridge. Jen had made chicken saltimbocca over the weekend, using the breast meat of a bird from Pat’s Pastured. She took the wings and made meat and broth for Kali, and left the legs for my bachelor supper. So I roasted the legs in the oven, in my beloved iron skillet, at 450ºF for about 20 minutes, I think. When they reached about 165º, I removed them to a platter and tented them with foil to rest.

Then I took the leftover skin (and the fat clinging to it) from the breast portion, and crisped that up in the pan drippings in the iron skillet. I removed that, let it cool, and chopped it up. I added a bit of olive oil, sliced shallot and a pinch of salt and sweated those down over medium-low heat. I added thinly sliced potatoes and fried them in the oil and chicken fat.

Meanwhile, in another pan, I put oil and more shallot, heated that up, and added chopped kale to sauté. When the potatoes were nicely browned, I added the chicken skin back to the pan and let everything crisp up a bit. And there you have a rich, probably too fatty, meal fit for a bachelor weeknight. I won’t even talk about the hookers and blow that followed.

Not quite LND plating

You’ll note by the color imbalance and the schmutz on the plate that this definitely isn’t Jen’s photography. Sorry for the mess.

Cooking to Combat Cancer

I know of very few people whose lives have not been affected in some way by cancer. Mike was just a little boy when he lost his father to pancreatic cancer. My aunt is a breast cancer survivor. Our friend Michele has undergone treatment for skin cancer, and just recently, our friend Jill lost someone very dear to her after a long battle with breast cancer that metastasized to her brain. It is for Jill’s friend Jen, and for everyone else in our lives who has been touched by this disease, that I am writing this today, to participate in the third installment of Cooking to Combat Cancer.

Cancer is a scary word, and I’m sure it’s easy to feel powerless when you or someone you love is faced with that diagnosis. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia nearly 10 years ago, and after struggling with various treatments, I took a good hard look at my diet, figuring it was one small thing I had control of. Cancer is, obviously, a very different beast than fibro, but consuming a diet made up of good, wholesome foods is a great way to help manage all sorts of health conditions.

Food is a powerful thing: it provides both fuel for our bodies and comfort for our souls. I’ve talked a lot about the latter here, but it’s easy to forget sometimes that so many foods contain compounds that fight cell damage, reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and are as beneficial to those battling disease as to those of us who are trying to stave it off, or who are managing chronic health conditions. The fact that they taste good is a bonus.

salad, pre-toss

I tend to like vivid color on my plate, so with that in mind, I chose red quinoa as the base for my cancer-fighting dish, a warm quinoa salad. Quinoa is a favorite pantry staple, a great canvas for other flavors, and a breeze to prepare – just rinse it well and cook it as you would rice. I tossed my cooked quinoa with a zippy dressing spiked with lots of minced garlic, lemon juice and zest, all bound with a bit of extra virgin olive oil. I added about a cup of thinly sliced spring onions to the mix, as well as several handfuls of young kale.

in praise of...

Inspired by Sara Kate’s recent post at The Kitchn, I opened a tin of olive oil-packed sardines, reserving the oil to fry them in. I gave the sardines an ultra-light coating of Wondra flour seasoned with sea salt and a little cayenne, then gently fried them until they were crisp on the outside and just warmed through.

Dinner:  April 28, 2009

I gave the warm quinoa salad another quick toss before serving it, placing the sardines on top and finishing the whole thing with another hit of lemon zest. The richness of the fish married really well with the nutty quinoa, brightly flavored dressing, sharp onions and tender young kale – this meal was as full of flavor as it was packed with healthy goodness.

(Big thanks to Mele Cotte for hosting, and to Blue Kitchen’s Terry B for referring me there.)

Old Reliable

Dinner:  April 13, 2009

So far, I’m having one of those weeks where things just aren’t going the way they should. I’ve had all sorts of minor mishaps, boo-boos and bouts of forgetfulness over the last couple of days, the biggest of which was my plan to make a risotto for Monday night’s dinner.

Except I forgot that we’re out of rice.

Of any kind.

And I didn’t have anything else that would work well in its place for the preparation I had in mind.


So this was another fall-back-and-punt kind of meal: sauteed Simmons Farm kale, black-eyed peas (which I had previously cooked, portioned out, and frozen) reheated in a bit of leftover chile broth, a thin slice of toasted, garlic-rubbed Olga’s sourdough, and a pastured egg from Aquidneck Farms, cooked sunny-side up in olive oil, with Basque salt and freshly grated Pecorino Romano sprinkled over it all at the end. This dinner was not at all what I had originally planned, but sometimes these simple, impromptu meals are just what I need – the combination of beans or grains, greens and a farm egg is something I’ve come to love and rely on in a pinch.

Fall Colors

This was better than it had any right to be. Like many dishes I make, it evolved from a hastily scribbled note that looked more like a math problem than a recipe, an attempt to do something different with familiar ingredients.


I’m crazy for the deep green wrinkly variety of kale that goes by various names (Dinosaur, Tuscan, Lacinato). Whatever you call it, it’s darned tasty, and something I buy in quantity this time of year, but I tend to do the same old saute with it, or toss it into a soup.

raw and cooked

I’m also a huge fan of chickpeas; my husband, not so much. He’ll eat them if they’re in a dish (or eat around them), but he was never really a fan – until now.

We’re both learning to love sweet potatoes. They’re just so good for you, but in most preparations they’re just *too* sweet for our tastes. Here, I decided to cube them and saute them in olive oil with a chopped shallot until they got nicely browned on the edges. Then my drained, cooked chickpeas went in, along with a huge clove of garlic, sliced, and once that was fragrant and golden, the chopped kale went on top. I tossed it through until it was bright green and wilted, then spooned the veggies into our bowls, topping each serving with (of course) a poached egg.

Dinner:  October 20, 2008

I didn’t have great expectations for this, but honestly? We loved it. The chickpeas were the unexpected star, rich and meaty tasting, with a wonderful texture far superior to canned. A little harissa added at the table took it over the top. This was a lovely and really satisfying fall meal, a great combination of colors and textures, and a surprising success.