Kale Beets Quinoa

KaleSalad1 Still in the midst of my ongoing love affair with the Cavolo Nero (aka Lacinato, Tuscan, Dinosaur, Black).   I prefer it raw and in any salad imaginable.  Here’s one of many great combos.

Kale - Beets - Quinoa Salad

2 medium Beets 1 bunch Lacinato Kale 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1/2 cup red or white quinoa 1 small Granny Smith apple zest and juice of 1 lemon (*more if desired) salt and freshly cracked black pepper 2 cups baby arugula 3 tablespoons crumbled light or fat free Feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350º.

Wash the beets and wrap them in foil and place in preheated oven. After 30 minutes carefully open the foil pack and check if done by inserting a thin knife.  It should easily cut into the beet. If needed, continue cooking another 10 minutes or until done. Carefully open the foil packet and allow to cool completely. Remove the skin using a paper towel or small paring knife. Cut into small cubes or smash with a fork and set aside.

In a 1 quart saucepan combine the quinoa, 1 cup of water and a healthy pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cover. Continue cooking for 10 -15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Using a fork to fluff up the quinoa and place in a medium bowl to cool.

Wash the kale leaves then one by one, having the back of a leaf facing you, simply strip the leaf off of the main vein. do this with all of the leaves first. Cut each leaf in half lengthwise and stack a bunch of the strips. Cut in half , stack again, then slice into 1/2 strips and place in a large bowl. To make this easy do this in 2 or 3 increments. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the kale and with your hands, massage the oil into the kale so that it coats each strip.

Using a microplane or fine grater, grate the zest of the lemon over the kale tossing to incorporate evenly. Then sprinkle the juice of half of the lemon over the kale and toss again.

Add the juice of the other lemon half over the mixture and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and black pepper and stir to combine.

In the large bowl with the kale, add the beets, quinoa mixture and arugula, tossing well to combine. Taste and adjust lemon juice, salt and pepper if desired. Sprinkle the Feta cheese over the top.

Serve with sliced avocado or a baked salmon filet.

Toasting Spices

You heard it right.  Toasting.  Now is the best time to introduce the process of toasting whole spices.

When working with whole spices, such as cinnamon, cumin seed, fennel seed, star anise, coriander, etc., toasting the spices releases their essential oils.  This is in fact what you’re after when cooking with any whole spices.

Place the spices in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat for about 4-5 minutes until the aroma is released.  That’s it!  Proceed with using this in your cooking.  When using whole seed spices like cumin seed, coriander seed, mustard seed and fennel seed this same process is called ‘popping’ the spices.  The seeds will begin to lightly smoke and will actually make a popping noise and ultimately brown slightly.

When you’re taking the time to cook, do it right and get the most out of your ingredients.  Toasting or popping your spices will be well worth the five minutes it takes.