escarole lentil salad with sweet potatoes

Lentil-escarole-salad-with-roasted-sweet-potatoes

I’m on a roll with my Italian bitter greens, looks like. I grabbed a bunch of escarole yesterday while I was grocery shopping, bypassing the baby spinach-arugula-mixed lettuce I’ve gotten into the habit of buying.

Do you remember the time before prewashed salad came in plastic boxes? It seems like a lonnnnng time ago when I used to buy fresh, whole heads of lettuce, wash and dry them in my salad spinner. I know! The labor! The convenience of those containers of greens has made me lazy, I regret.

There’s a lot to be said for choosing whole heads of salad greens. For one, there are certain varieties that don’t come packaged in a little box – like Little Gem, which is like a small, tender version of Romaine. And speaking of Romaine, whenever I buy a head of it to make homemade Caesar salad instead of those bags of pale, wilted hearts, I appreciate how great Romaine is: leafy, crunchy and sweet.

escarole

But back to the subject – I didn’t mean to go off on a salad tangent. Actually, when I was growing up escarole rarely appeared raw in a salad. Rather it was the star – along with tiny meatballs – in a delicious soup my mom would make for holidays or what came before the main course at family weddings. I’m going to have to scout out that recipe…

Escarole was made for a hearty, wintery salad like this one. I cooked tiny black lentils and mixed them with some leftover roasted sweet potatoes. The contrast of colors in the bowl perked up the gray day outside, in a big way.

lentil-salad-with-escarole-and-sweet-potato

escarole lentil salad with sweet potatoes

Serving Size: serves 4

Any size or color lentils will be great in this salad, However, I like tiny green French or black lentils because they keep their shape after cooking

Ingredients

1 cup lentils – any size or color

Salt

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons wine or sherry vinegar

Fresh ground black pepper

1 small bunch escarole, outer leaves removed

1 cup diced, roasted sweet potatoes *

Instructions

  1. Cook the lentils with 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan of boiling water about 25 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Drain the lentils and mix in a bowl with the shallot, olive oil, vinegar and a few grinds of black pepper.
  3. Trim off the stem of the escarole and slice into bite-sized pieces; add to the lentils along with the sweet potatoes and toss together.

Notes

*To roast sweet potatoes, cut into wedges or chunks (no need to peel) and toss on a baking sheet with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven about 20 minutes, until tender and lightly brown.

http://familystylefood.com/2013/01/escarole-lentil-salad-with-sweet-potatoes/

Toasted Orzo Salad with Lemon and Chickpeas

Toasted Orzo Salad with Lemon and Feta

I could cook pasta every night of the week and make everyone happy. But at the same time I like to make a meal that falls under my definition of “healthy” and “delicious”.

Orzo is familiar as a side dish or floating in soup, but I find that toasting it first and mixing it with lots of vegetables makes it ten times more complex and interesting.

I’ve played on the Greek heritage of orzo in this recipe and borrowed from the Mediterranean pantry by using chickpeas, cumin, lemon and tangy feta cheese. I would serve this on a pile of arugula and call it lunch or dinner.

Toasted Orzo Salad with Lemon and Chickpeas

Serving Size: serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup orzo pasta

2 tablespoons butter

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

¼ cup chopped fresh dill

1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup chopped seedless or Persian cucumber

Baby arugula greens

Instructions

  1. Warm a dry 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat; add the orzo and toast until golden brown and nutty-smelling, about 10 minutes, tossing the pan frequently. Remove from the heat and cool.
  2. Bring 3 quarts salted water to a boil and cook the orzo until al dente. Drain and transfer to a bowl along with the butter, stirring until butter melts completely.
  3. Whisk together the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper; pour over the orzo. Add the chickpeas, pine nuts, dill and cucumber to the bowl and gently toss together. Top with the cheese and serve over the arugula.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/05/toasted-orzo-salad-with-lemon-and-chickpeas/

Tuscan Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Somewhere along the line I got into a habit of eating my daily greens, and by daily I mean All Day, even starting at breakfast with a little pile of leafy greens near, under or around my poached egg. Sometimes it’s baby arugula or maybe washed salad greens leftover from dinner the night before.

I have a favorite method of quickly cooking my greens Italian-style, but this here kale salad might be my favorite way to eat them just plain raw. It’s easy to put together and the sturdy kale leaves hold up so well with the lemony-Parmesan dressing you could even make it hours ahead of time with no fear of a wilted soggy salad – in fact, it only improves matters.

You’ll probably love the roasted chickpeas as much as I do – they garnish the salad very nicely but become an addictive (and yes, healthy) little snack all by themselves.

If you can’t find Tuscan kale – which is also called Lacinato, cavolo nero, black or Dinosaur kale – regular curly kale will do.

Tuscan kale with roasted chickpeas

Tuscan Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Yield: 4 servings, or one salad for 1 hungry person

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, drained

1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (Pimenton)

Kosher salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 big lemon, zested and juiced

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

1 small garlic clove, smashed and chopped

Pinch Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes

1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems trimmed and washed

Instructions

  1. Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss the chickpeas on a small rimmed baking sheet with the Pimenton, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast the chickpeas for 10 - 12 minutes - they should smell good and become a little bit crunchy.
  3. Whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons oil with the lemon zest and juice, cheese, garlic and red pepper. Taste and season with a pinch of salt if you think it needs some.
  4. Roughly tear the kale leaves into pieces and blot with a clean towel if they're dripping wet; put into a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss the leaves with your hands so that they're evenly coated - your hands will taste yummy.
  5. Serve the salad with some of the chickpeas spooned over the top and sprinkled with curls of Parmesan, if you like.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/02/tuscan-kale-salad-with-roasted-chickpeas/