Kale and Beet Salad with Pickled Onions, Balsamic Vinaigrette, and Goat Cheese

IMG_20180705_132657179Admittedly, I have done very little cooking in the last week. This heat has inspired a diet of fresh fruit, salads, sandwiches, and frozen desserts. I’ve made eggs for breakfast, but once the sun really comes up I can’t be bothered to heat up the kitchen any more. Refusing to cook can be inspiration all its own, and salads do not have to be boring.

This week my Potter Hill CSA share was kale, perpetual spinach, salad turnips, baby beets, zucchini, summer squash, fresh onions, bok choy, basil, and parsley. If I can find a grill to make use of, this zucchini with pesto and beans is high on my list to make. If you could be bothered to roast sweet potatoes, these wraps are an excellent vegetarian main (and if you can’t be bothered, grated carrots or beets would be a fine substitute). My favorite everyday use for greens is to saute them to have with eggs and toast in the morning with a few dashes of hot sauce.

The revelation in this salad is there is no reason to cook your beets. Yes, when you roast them their sweet, earthiness is concentrated, but that is not always what I want from a beet. In fact I was anti-beet until I ate them raw and was able to appreciate their mildly sweet crunch. Young beets are especially great this way, and are an excellent addition to salads, wraps, and sandwiches.

 Kale and Beet Salad with Pickled Onions, Balsamic Vinaigrette, and Goat Cheese

These pickled onions are a great addition to sandwiches or potato salad (as in their inspiration recipe). I had a great intention to add nuts, but then forgot to do so while I was making it. Toasted pecans or almonds would be my pick. With baby beets I just wash them thoroughly and trim any stringy bits off the bottom, but don’t feel the need to peel them.

Dressing inspired by Sprouted Kitchen, pickled onions inspired by Smitten Kitchen.

Serves 4 as side salads, or 2 as mains.

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large fresh onion bulb, minced (about 1/2 a cup)
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
  • 3 small beets, greens removed and reserved
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Measure white wine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a small jar (1/2 pint works great). Shake to dissolve the salt and sugar, then add the minced onion and let sit while you prepare everything else.

In a second jar (or the bottom of a large bowl, if you are going to mix and serve everything at once) combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Shake or whisk to combine.

Trim any stringy ends off the bottom of the beets, and then grate them on the largest holes of a box grater (or, you could cut them into matchsticks by hand or on a mandolin).

Assemble the salad by massaging the majority of the dressing into the kale with your hands (reserve a few tablespoons of dressing to drizzle on top) until the leaves are thoroughly coated and shiny. Top kale with grated beets, crumbled goat cheese, about 1/2 the pickled onions (see head note for other uses), and a final drizzle of dressing.

 

 

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Kale salad with apples, dried cranberries, and pecans

Kale salad with apples, dried cranberries, and pecans - Vegetal MattersIf we’ve never met, I think I can sum myself up pretty well with this statement: I’m the one who brings a salad to a party. I’m certainly not anti-dessert (hooray for cider doughnut season!!!), but so often everyone else offers to bring an appetizer or something sweet and there are no vegetables to balance it all out. Kale salad keeps incredibly well, and is in fact better if made ahead so the dressing breaks down the kale a bit. The particulars are not so important here, I really like the apples but a roasted veg like butternut or beets works as well (or could be in addition to the apple), any dried fruit, and whatever nuts you have around. I wanted to make sure there was a diary free offering for our work potluck, but at home I would definitely add crumbled goat cheese on top.

Kale salad with apples, dried cranberries, and pecans

Serves 4 for lunch sized salads, 8 or more for party sized servings

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Salad

  • 10 oz kale (1 large bunch or about 6 cups), stems removed and chopped. I used a mix of Red Russian and curly green.
  • 1 apple, chopped right before serving
  • ½ cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Taste and adjust to your liking. A few hours before serving, toss the kale in the dressing. To really get the dressing in the curly bits use clean hands to do the tossing and massage the dressing into the leaves. To serve, top with the pieces of apple, pecans, dried cranberries, and goat cheese (if using).

Barbecue chicken salad with tomatoes, peaches, and goat cheese ranch dressing.

Barbecue Chicken Salad with Tomato, Peaches, and Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing - Vegetal Matters Christmas creep is by far the worst example, but I think the problem has gone way beyond just one holiday. It is more like seasonal creep now. It happens with businesses, beers, and food bloggers. The infamous hot pumpkin coffee beverage starts making its appearance at the end of August.  I went to a grocery store and a craft store labor day weekend and was bombarded with pumpkin beer and Halloween decor. And this doesn’t just happen this time of year. Sam Summer goes out on shelves in March. Recipes for asparagus and strawberries pop up everywhere in March and April, even though their seasons aren’t really in full swing until June. Tomato dishes are everywhere in July, but their peak season is August and September (and it even goes into October).

There is a push for always preparing for what is ahead, instead of enjoying what is here. A need to experience all the quintessential things that are supposed to happen in a season, instead of the reality. It is about to be October. I live in Massachusetts, and on Monday I went to the farm where I buy my produce and selected from summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, radishes, winter squashes, potatoes, kale, chard, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, leeks, onions and herbs. It is that wonderful time of seasonal transition, when both summer and winter crops are coming in. I still love my share of fall crops (though pumpkin does not get me nearly as twitterpated as everyone else), but my true favorites come from summer. The beauty in many fall and winter crops is they last a long time if stored properly. So I have many months to get in my butternut squash soup and beet salads, but in the meantime I’m going to ingest all the nightshades and stone fruit I can manage.

Last week I made barbecue chicken, but wanted a lighter meal for the leftovers. A few peaches from peach week were still in the fridge, and since I’ve already put peaches and tomatoes together, and peaches and chicken together, putting peaches, tomatoes, and chicken in one dish wasn’t much of a stretch.

Barbecue Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Peaches, and Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing

Serves 4.

This is easily scale-able. If you don’t eat chicken, chickpeas or cauliflower (a la buffalo cauliflower salad) would make an excellent substitution.

Salad

  • 2 chicken breasts with barbecue sauce (see note for substitutions), chopped
  • 12ish cups lettuce (I used a mix of lettuce and cabbage), enough to fill 4 dinner plates, from about 1/2 a head of cabbage and a small head of lettuce
  • 2 medium tomatoes (or a few handfuls cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 peaches

Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots or red onion
  • ¼ cup goat cheese
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley

If you have a food processor, set it up with the S blade (or use a blender). Turn it on and drop the garlic in from the top, processing until you don’t hear any more bits bouncing around. Add in the shallot, and process for 30 seconds. Add the goat cheese, buttermilk, salt, and pepper in and process until smooth. Without a food processor, whisk the garlic, shallot, goat cheese, buttermilk, salt, and pepper together. Then whisk in the parsley (don’t add the parsley into the food processor unless you want a very green dressing). Allow the dressing to sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, or longer if you can.

Chop peaches and tomato into ½ inch pieces. Divide lettuce onto plates, then top each plate with a quarter of the tomatoes, peaches, and barbecue chicken (I like to warm it slightly). Serve with goat cheese ranch.