One of my favorite fish preparations is to cook fillets right on top of vegetables. Could be tomatoes and chiles, eggplant and garlic, asparagus, celery and fennel, ratatouille (see below) or, as in this case, a big bunch of tender young greens stirred up with one big sautéed onion. Plain white fish is, after all, plain white fish. Vegetables make all the difference in the world. There’s still lemon, of course.
It is snowing, sleeting, and blowing in Saint Paul. Again. I mostly don’t mind it. As long as I don’t have to drive.
When I came home from the market today, it was pouring tiny bits of frozen rain–treacherous. I got the groceries up the slippery steps and emailed my boss I was opting out of a dinner meeting. She agreed and canceled it. Phew. By then the biggest snowflakes I’d ever seen were flying like big crystal kites colliding over and over in a shivering maelstrom. My little warm kitchen never looked so good.
My welcoming committee.
Yesterday, however, was a gorgeous day with little time for cooking. A day to say, “I need to use those last couple of pieces of chicken and, oh, those mushrooms shouldn’t really see the morning light. And it needs to be done pretty quickly because I have to go to rehearsal.” (Even if you have to cook the chicken thighs, it’ll only take another five minutes.)
In the frig was a container of baby kale — a popular blog search on More Time — and I decided to do something a little out of the ordinary with it. I ended up with an attractive salad with a little warmth. Dave added some Triscuits and blue cheese; I ate just the Triscuits to watch my p’s and q’s. Here’s how:
baby kale and chicken salad — 10 minutes to dinner
3-4 servings 296 calories or 5 Weight Watcher Points per serving
2 cups fresh vegetables (nearly any will do–see below for mine)
1 cup baby kale
6-7 cups fresh greens
Sherry or red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sliced or blanched almonds.
To a 10-inch skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper along with a pinch of crushed red pepper; heat over medium flame for a minute or so. Stir in 4 ounces sliced button mushrooms, 1/2 cup chopped asparagus, 1 peeled and thinly sliced carrot, 1/4 cup each chopped onion and red bell pepper. Let cook down 4-5 minutes; add a chopped clove of garlic. Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. (Most chopped fresh vegetables you havewould work; these are the ones I had on hand.)
Add a cup of baby kale. (Could sub spinach.) Stir and let cook a minute or two. (This cooks down a lot; you could add more if you like.)
Meantime, toast 2 tablespoons sliced, chopped or blanched almonds (or walnuts) over low heat 4-5 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss 6 cups fresh greens or fresh spinach with a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and a good sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
Line the perimeter of a large platter with the greens, leaving some room at the center. Spoon out the cooked vegetables onto the platter in the middle and top with three or four pieces of cooked chicken, in this case thighs I had cooked earlier. (I warmed them briefly with the almonds just to take the chill off of them, but you could of course eat them cold.)
Top with toasted almonds. Drizzle salad with a tablespoon or so of sherry or red wine vinegar.
Dave liked a little blue cheese dressing with his. I liked it without. Blue Cheese dressing is about 80 fat calories per tablespoon.
MAKE A BIGGER MEAL: Serve with whole wheat crackers and cheese or a piece of whole wheat toast and butter if you’re starved. Or: add 2 cups cooked brown rice to the salad for an additional 109 calories per serving. Toss the cooked rice in with the vegetables as they cook or add at end.
Sing a new song; stay warm,
SWORDFISH WITH GINGER-ASPARAGUS RICE AND MANGO SALSA ON DINNER PLACE RIGHT NOW:
If you’re looking for a fish meal for Good Friday –or a different salmon recipe– this is your day. While it takes a few more minutes than simply grilling some fish and putting together a salad, it’s well worth it. Think creamy-dreamy risotto to which you’ve added some spring peas. Surround it with some quickly crisped healthy green kale and top with a tender filet of salmon. Lemon, along with some minced fresh onion, adds the best touch over all at the end. Here’s how….
I’m a firm fan of the frozen salmon that comes in the individual or duo vacuum pack. It’s delicious, less expensive than fresh, and sometimes fresher than the fish in the seafood case. I’ve been buying packages all summer long at a price of about $4 and change per approximately 6 oz. serving. (This is a quote from my blog, DINNER PLACE– THE SOLO COOK.)
What I didn’t say was that I’ve been shopping at Whole Foods for this fish. And it. is. lovely. While we’ve been taught to beware of frozen fish, places like Whole Foods (or mail order Alaskan salmon companies) truly have incredible frozen fish. That information comes straight from one of their fishmongers.
This is a fun one-pan meal. You cook up some onions, garlic, and kale with lemon and white wine…top with salmon, put a lid on it and call it dinner.
Just for grins, read through this method before cooking. I don’t think you’ll need to refer back every other blink to the “recipe.”
salmon on kale with lemon and thyme serves 2
Heat a 12-inch, deep skillet over medium high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add a chopped large onion and sauté for about 5 minutes with 1 /8 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Add 2 cloves mincedgarlic and cook another minute. Season with a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper and a teaspoon of fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme), chopped. Stir.
Add 5 ounces chopped kale (2-3 cups) and let cook down, stirring occasionally, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, the juice of one lemon, 1/4 cup white wine, and season liberally with kosher salt and pepper.
Add 2 salted and peppered salmon filets (about 6 ounces each) skin down. Reduce heat to low. Cover and steam about six minutes or until salmon is just barely firm, but still moist at center.
Spoon greens out onto a plate and top with salmon. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Wine: My friends, if you drink wine: please buy yourself a case of Sineann (Oregon) Red Table Wine …. and have them ship it to your house. Not only do you not need a wine opener (German-style glass topper you open with your fingers), you have a lovely dinner wine for less money than many of the less expensive Pinot Noirs (not worth buying) in the stores. Make the plunge. Order yourself some wine. Of course, Sineann makes some of my favorite Oregon Pinot Noirs (and a few other things)…at a bit steeper price…and they need a little (not a lot) cellaring. The red table wine, on the other hand, is imminently drinkable. Sineann makes a variety of wines that are all nearly perfect, but I must mention they also do a white table wine…I have a case of that arriving Tuesday. Winters are long in St. Paul. Not that I’d know since it’s still seventy something *$%&## degrees and dry as a bone out in my yard. I may have wine, but my lilacs are almost dead.
While I didn’t grow up eating kale, I got to it as soon as I could. My folks were transplanted southerners. Greens made an appearance, oh yeah. I ate them. (not) There were lots of reasons why I finally hit on kale (baby kale first, actually) once I knew from good. One was its curly beauty:
One was its strength and goodness.
One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.(courtesy webmd.)
Another was its price. Even at Whole Foods, kale was doable, payable, and edible.
Last was its ease of preparation. Clean well, chop, saute, season, eat. Repeat. Mix in another bit of greens if you like. Herbs? Oh, yes. Heat? Sure. Good in soup? Perfect! And…
Served with a bit of rice or a piece of chicken, I loved, loved it. Try this:
baby kale and spinach with a roasted chicken breast
A. first roast your chicken breast
Roast olive oiled and salt and peppered bone-in breasts 45 minutes at 350 F a la Ina.
B. toward the end of the cooking time for the chicken, begin cooking the greens:
In a medium skillet or sauté pan, pour in about a tablespoon of olive oil. (No need for extra virgin.) Heat over medium heat with a pinch of crushed red pepper and kosher salt.
Add 4-5 very thin slices of red onion, torn or cut if they’re large. Cook, stirring, for one minute.
Drop in 4 cups or so spinach and baby kale. (Use chopped kale in place of baby kale if that’s what you have.) Let cook down as much as you like; watch it carefully. Stir. Some people like greens barely cooked; some like them well done. Suit yourself.
When almost done to your liking, toss in about 6 sliced cherry or grape tomatoes.
Heat through and serve hot or at room temperature. (You can add a splash of apple cider vinegar if you like.)
Never cooked greens like kale? Watch how here:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ If you liked this recipe, you might like:
Guacamole Soup with Cheese Quesadillas…recipe I’m working on for the book. Five tries and I’m finally happy.
Miss Gab and Tucker under my make-shift desk.
Today I took a break from recipe development and sat out on the front deck with a cup of coffee for a few. In the crab apple tree off to the right was a tiny chickadee singing, “CHRIS-tine.” I’ve never seen chickadees in Colorado, much less in my own yard. Soon, I saw there was a second chickadee. Of course, they’re always in pairs. They seemed to be digging around for insects in the bark of the tree. Sitting quietly, I finally saw one of the birds go to a nest–right in the tree. How could I not have noticed them, the building of the nest, or the baby birds?
Lesson for the day: If you don’t take the time to rest or sit quietly, you won’t know what’s going on in life right outside your own front door.
Where we live in Saint Paul, it can already be warm pretty early in the morning. I’m a morning person; the earlier the better. I’m also the daughter of both my father and father-in-law, because after I push the button on the coffee (pot filled night before), I check the temperature on my back porch. In the summer if it’s above 70, I sigh heavily, drink my coffee, and get out for my morning hike. Why? Because it will soon be 80, then 90, and today, my friends, the little weather gizmo on my iphone says it will be 99. If you’re a regular reader, you know what my house is like:
Above: Ah, our house in winter….
In other words, I have a nearly 100-year-old house on three levels with radiator heat and no capability for central air conditioning. A couple of window units make life possible and there’s a cool basement that occasionally serves as our “cabin.” Naturally, such climate also produces things like the best tomatoes on earth or my south garden roses:
Exercise and real cooking or baking must be done very early indeed on 100-degree days and I have invested in a combination microwave-convection oven where I can bake without getting the house too terribly hot. I’ll be honest and say the convection oven is not all it’s cracked up to be, but it’s a real improvement over no oven for three months in summer. A basement kitchen is what I want and there are many in the Twin Cities.
Most of the time, I do summer meals like everyone else: grilling, salads, ice cream for dessert. Each year, the salads change depending on what’s good to eat or what I have at any given time. If your frig or garden is full of kale (CSAs are notorious for delivering ton of kale!), this salad is for you. I call it a shop and chop; you buy a few ingredients (here, feta and olives) and just chop up whatever else you’ve got. Try this for the 4th; the kalamata olives serve as the “blue.” It’s a great accompaniment for barbequed pork chops, Italian sausages, salmon, or marinated chicken breasts. red, white, and blue salad for the 4th of July** serves 8 as a side, 4 as a main dish
10 cups finely chopped kale or baby kale
Juice of 1 lemon, divided
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 cup each: chopped feta cheese and whole, pitted kalamata olives
2 cups chopped English cucumbers (no need to peel)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 cup red onion, very thinly sliced
1 t dried Turkish oregano
1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
2T good quality red wine vinegar
4 T extra virgin olive oil
Place kale in a large bowl. Drizzle about half the lemon juice over the greens and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss well. On top of the seasoned kale layer the feta, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion. Sprinkle salad evenly with oregano, dill, and a bit more salt and pepper. Drizzle on the rest of the lemon juice and the red wine vinegar. Toss well. Drizzle on oil and toss again. Taste and re-season if necessary. Serve immediately with wedges of lemon. (Can be made several hours ahead: make as described above, but do not add any lemon juice, vinegar, or oil until you’re ready to serve. Cover and chill; dress right before serving.)
**If you have leftover grilled vegetables or sautéed eggplant from another day, these things make tasty additions to this salad and are a great way to use up leftover vegetables. If you’ve leftover grilled chicken, shrimp, or pork tenderloin, you could add them for a more robust main-dish salad.