Broccoli Stem and Kale Salad with Lemon Miso Dressing

kale and broccoli stem saladLast week, Will and I were on our way back from visiting friends in Philly. Last time we visited we spent the entire weekend eating excellent food, and this trip was equally delicious. We had incredible Lebanese food at Suraya (the fatteh with eggplant, chickpeas, and tehina yogurt was divine), hummus at Dizengoff, falafel, shwarma spice fries, and a Turkish coffee tahina shake at Goldie, ice cream at Weckerly’s twice, the best pour over I’ve ever had at Menagerie, a giant wedge salad at North Third, incredibly varied beer and great food at Tired Hands, and a cheesesteak on our way out at Dalessandro’s.
(Thanks again for having us Jesse and Brian – we’ll be back!!!)

But anyways, back to that journey home. We started off a little late, and hit rush hour traffic in Connecticut. We decided to stop and have dinner, and Will picked out Stanziato’s. It was surprisingly busy on a Monday night (a good sign), had an excellent beer list, and a creative take on Italian food that didn’t shy away from ingredients from other cultures. The pizzas were good, but the salad is what left the real impression. The only vegetable it contained was very thinly sliced broccoli stems that were coated in a lemon miso dressing and almost matched in volume by the toppings, which were parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, and capers. It was a delightful umami bomb and variety of textures that turned a normally trashed part of the vegetable into something you might buy on purpose.

I’ve been thinking about that salad since, and while I loved the flavor profile it seemed unbalanced. Afterwards I felt like I ate a bunch of salty cheese and nuts (which, I had) instead of a refreshing bowl of vegetables. The great joy of cooking at home is I can take what I loved about that salad and right the other wrongs. What results is definitely a salad, with a piquant dressing, buttery pine nuts, and a dusting of salty cheese. It feels like the best possible way to eat your vegetables.

Broccoli Stem and Kale Salad with Lemon Miso Dressing

Serve 4

This can easily become vegan by leaving out the parm, but in that case I would urge you to take the extra step of making Laura’s pine nut parm for salad perfection. I made roasted broccoli to go with dinner earlier in the week and saved the stems for this salad.

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (I used 1 smaller lemon)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon white miso paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 small bunch of kale, de-stemmed (mine was 4.5 ounces)
  • 3 small broccoli stems (or 2 medium or 1 large, mine totaled 8.5 ounces)
  • 1 stalk (2 ounces) celery
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped

In a large bowl whisk the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, miso, mustard, and the pinch of salt until combined.

Chop the kale, and very thinly slice the broccoli stems and celery (I used a mandoline, but careful knife work will also do the job). If you are working with a single large broccoli stem, you may want to peel it first. Test it by trying a slice to see how tough the outer bits are.

Add the kale, broccoli stems, and celery to the bowl and toss with your hands to combine. Work the dressing into the kale leaves so they are totally coated and shiny. Let the salad sit for a few minutes if you have time, so the dressing can soften the kale a bit (at least 10 minutes would be great). When you’re ready to serve top with the parmesan, pine nuts, and capers, and toss once more to combine.

The pine nuts will soften a bit as the salad sits, but its still great the next day.

*I did forget to add in the capers when I took this photo, but I put them in before we ate and they are definitely vital.

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Philadelphia Eats

20160626_112850This past weekend Will and I got to visit one of my oldest friends and her fiance in Philadelphia, PA. I’ve been to Philly once before, but I was working and didn’t get to fully experience it. Not at all the case with this trip. We spent two and a half days walking, eating, and drinking our way through the city. It was probably because we had such good tour guides, but I can’t remember a recent vacation when we had such consistently mind-blowing food. These dishes were the stand-outs that I’m going to have to recreate at home until I can head down again.

Bud & Marilyn’s. This is a lively and trendy spot in center city. The really memorable dish was the salad we ordered to balance the pu pu platter: “grilled heirloom carrots with red quinoa, shaved sunchokes, orange, pickled raisins, cumin yogurt.”All of the toppings were piled on a bed of the yogurt. The carrots were nicely charred, but not overcooked. The pickled raisins added a nice tang. The whole thing was not overly sweet, and I would return just to order this (though the sage derby smash cocktail was worth repeating too).

Federal Donuts. They do two things – donuts and fried chicken – and they more than excel at both. We started with a strawberry lavender donut off the hot menu (which they fry to order). It was exactly as I want a donut to be: cakey and just a bit sweet. Then we split the chicken sandwich (which only comes one way (perfect): with buttermilk ranch seasoning, American cheese, pickle, and rooster sauce on a potato roll) and the za’atar fried chicken (which you can also get with other dry seasonings or glazes). Oh my goodness. Both were crunchy, juicy, salty, and indulgent, but not heavy (likely a bad thing, because I want to eat this every day forever). The fried chicken comes with a honey donut, which was a delightful counterpart to the chicken (like a biscuit….but better because it is a donut).

Stock. This little southeast Asian eatery is the best kind – one that has a small menu but exceeds at every dish. Will and I shared the sausage bahn mi and the chicken pho which were both excellent. The really surprising new-to-me dish that I will be trying to recreate at home was a special on the night we were there. It was a salad made from a mix of different cold fruits, including mango, plum and pineapple, topped with Thai herbs and a coconut dressing. It is what I want to eat with all the summer fruit. This recipe looks like it could be a good jumping off point, and I’ll get back to you about the coconut dressing.

La Colombe Coffee Roasters. Using some kind of automagical process La Colombe serves draft lattes, which come out of the tap as a perfectly uniform, unbelievably light, milk and coffee wonder beverage. The draft latte is an experience all its own, but as a regular drink I think I would stick with the black and tan, which is cold brew topped with the draft latte. Lucky for us all there are locations outside of Philly, including one in Boston!

The Yachtsman. I don’t frequent tiki bars, but that is something to be fixed. I usually gravitate towards more sour or floral gin based cocktails, so that is what I ordered. Don’t make my mistake. I then had a sip of their piña colada, which is first on the menu for a reason. In my very limited piña coladas experiences they have been overly sweet because they are poured out of a box into a smoothie machine or taste too strongly of cheap rum. If only I’d known what they could be! This one was the most refreshing balance of coconut with just light sweetness from the pineapple. I have a feeling my journey to make one as good as this may be long…but I will persevere.

Hungry Pigeon. I didn’t know it until this weekend, but there was a void empty of breakfast salads in my life. The breakfast salad here (pictured at top) consists of “greens, bacon, cheddar cheese, warm lentils, hashbrowns, poached egg, & toast.” Not the most normal combination, eh? The greens were just lightly dressed in what I would guess was olive oil and wine vinegar. The bacon was extremely thick cut lardons and more generous than I expected. The cheddar and lentils were tossed throughout the salad . The hashbrown square had about a 1:10 soft to crisp texture ratio (so, perfect). And then there were two hearty pieces of toast to pile all these nice bits on to and eat.

On our next trip it will be very difficult to not just return to all these places…but first on the list of new spots is Dizengoff, a hummus restaurant by Michael Solomonov (who also owns Federal Donuts). We’ll also go back to Reading Terminal Market and actually pick a few things to eat there (instead just walking around in awe). And then of course whatever new spots our excellent tour guides discover in the meantime (we’ll let you know where!).