Tuscan Kale Salad

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I had originally planned on posting a delicious and summery cucumber caprese salad, which you may have seen if you follow me on instagram. But, then, I realized that I’d been eating the same side all week, and I decided that I should post this kale salad instead. It’s very rare that I eat the same thing every single day, but this salad is just so darn easy and so flavorful that I’ve had with my pulled pork, with my tuna cakes, and with whatever cold cuts I could find in the fridge.

Now, I have to admit something: I’ve only had kale once before. Yes, it’s this hugely popular superfood in the health world in general and in the paleo world in particular. Yes, it’s loaded with a ton of great nutrients for very little calories. And, yes, it seems like really no one can get enough of it. But, sometimes, when something is all over the place at all times, I get a little hipster. I don’t participate on principle. And when/if I do, I don’t tell anybody about it. Weird, I know.

And what do you know, the one time I tried kale (and nobody knew) was Snap Kitchen‘s version of this salad. They ‘re where I got the idea to make this at home when I saw organic chopped kale at HEB earlier this week. While I initially just picked up the salad as a perfect, low-risk way to try this supposedly amazing green, it really blew me away: it was beautiful in its simplicity. So, when I brought my very own bag of kale home with me, I knew I would try to mimic the flavors. With only six ingredients, I figured it couldn’t be that hard to get it right.

And I nailed it! Spicy, citrusy, and salty. The best part is that this takes all of 5 minutes to make. Then, because kale is such a sturdy green, it can stay good for 2-3 days without wilting and getting gross (in fact, I thought the salad was even better the next day!). So, with summer around and everyone trying to spend more time outdoors rather than in, I decided I couldn’t keep this from you!

Tuscan Kale Salad
Serves 1

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Ingredients:

3 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed
2 tbsps olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions:

1. In a small bowl with a lid, add the kale and squeeze the lemon:
sthe garlic:
IMG_7695The red pepper flakes:
IMG_7698And the olive oil, salt, and few grinds of pepper:
IMG_77012. Cover the bowl with the lid, and shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until the kale leaves are well-coated.
3. Stick the bowl in the fridge, and let the salad rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to 2 days.
4. Serve, and enjoy!
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Tuscan Kale Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 3 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
  1. In a small bowl with a lid, add all the ingredients.
  2. Cover the bowl with the lid, and shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until the kale leaves are well-coated.
  3. Stick the bowl in the fridge, and let the salad rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to 2 days.
  4. Serve, and enjoy!

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I am pretty darn proud of myself for actually following this Cooking Cure thing!  It is now Day 10, whose assignment is to shop for and cook your chosen recipe from your list, and I have officially completed every challenge of this Cure so far!  I’m gonna go ahead and unofficially add this to the list of things to celebrate at my super duper fancy birthday dinner tonight (P.S. doesn’t that place look amazing??  I’m probably gonna be That Girl and take pictures of all of my meals tonight, you know, for posterity. And for you guys!)!

Anywho, it’s very convenient for me that the cooking assignments are always on Fridays because I’m always off on Fridays, so that means that I get to choose something from my list that I can leisurely enjoy making.  For the lunch challenge, I choose to make the Carrot Coconut Soup.

And, you guys, this soup has to be one of the best smells that has ever graced my kitchen. And I’ve cooked a lot of delicious smelling things (this, for example).  I’ve never been to Thailand, but I imagine this is what it must smell like everywhere, which totally makes sense.

All you need for this recipe is butter, carrots, coconut milk, chicken broth (or vegetable if you want to make this vegan, in which case you should sub the butter for coconut oil), an onion, and Sriracha sauce (the original recipe called for sambal oelek, which I discovered is made by the same rooster company as Sriracha and supposed to be more simplified, buuuut I’m cheap so I used what I had).  That’s it!  In fact, I didn’t even bother peeling my carrots, since I’ve read a few times that most of the nutrition is in the peel, and I figured it was all gonna be blended anyway.  I did, however, scrub the hell out of them with my vegetable scrubber.

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The steps are even easier!  First, you chop up your carrots and dice your onion.  They don’t have to look pretty because they’re all gonna get blended, but you’ll want to chop everything fairly small so it cooks quickly.  Melt your butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, and throw the veggies in there with some salt and pepper.

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Then, once the carrots are soft enough to be pierced fairly easily with a fork, add in the coconut milk, the chicken broth, and 1 tbsp of Sriracha sauce.  Yummy. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat a little bit, and let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the veggies are reeeeally soft.

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Remove the soup from the heat (and don’t forget to turn it off!).  If you are using a regular blender, then you’ll want to let the soup cool for a good bit before pouring it in to blend it.  I’m terrible at pouring things, so I used my fancy schmancy immersion blender to blend it right in the pan until there were no more chunks!

Then I topped it with MOAR Sriracha, and I ate it with a leftover cabbage roll.  It was all so delicious and I will definitely be making this soup again!

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Mongolian Tofu

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I’ve decided to go 3 for 3 on the quick and easy meals route and finish this week off with a wonderfully delicious tofu dish. On the hit or miss scale of things, tofu has generally always been on my ‘miss’ list.  The only kind I’ve consistently liked is the soft kind that goes in mapo tofu, a Szechuan dish that my friend L introduced me to.  So, not only was this my first time cooking tofu, but it was also the first time I’ve decided I liked it.  Why did I decide to cook something that I thought I didn’t like, you ask?  For science!  Just kidding.  Really, it’s because, every once in a while, I take stock of how my tastes have changed, and I decided it was time to give it another try (and that, my friends, is How I Met Brussel Sprouts).

If I’m being honest, though, I have to admit that the real star of this dish is the sauce. The tofu is great and all, particularly since it’s so quick-cooking and gives you 2/3 the protein of a similar amount of chicken for almost half the caloric intake, but the sauce. Oh, the sauce.

I’m not 100% sure that there’s actually any Mongolian component to it, but what I do know is that it’s tangy, salty, sweet, and the kind of thing that goes great on everything. In fact, Mr. Little Fish dumped it on his pork kabob and proclaimed that he didn’t know how he felt about tofu but he would be down for this sauce on anything.

I like to think that the modifications I made on the recipe helped contribute to the sauce’s stardom.  I swapped out the sesame oil for coconut oil for the sauteing, because certain oils are not meant to withstand the high heat of stir frying, and both sesame and olive oil are better used for garnish than for cooking since they tend to degrade and break down in the face of high temperatures.  I also added sriracha to the sauce, because, well, I don’t think I have to explain that one.  I lowered the sugar content, because I find I never need as much sugar as most recipes call for.  And lastly, I decided I wanted the flavor of the sesame oil after all, so I added back some of it at the end.  Next time I make this I would also like to saute some onions before putting in the tofu.

Mongolian Tofu
Adapted from Dinner: A Love Story
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 block extra firm tofu  (see Step 1 for directions on preparing this ingredient)
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp chili sauce, like sriracha
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (PROTIP #1:  I keep my fresh ginger in the freezer so that it doesn’t go bad.  The upside to this is that when I grate it on my microplane, it’s not all wet and hard to work with!)
1 clove garlic, minced (PROTIP #2:  Ever notice how your knife gets really sticky when you’re mincing garlic?  Just run your knife under some water before you start mincing, and it will all slide right off!)
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 green onions, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime

Directions:

1.  At least 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking, put your blocks of tofu on a plate, cover with a stack of paper towels, and then place a heavy pan or other object on top.  This will squeeze out the water from the tofu, allowing you to make it crispier when you fry it.  Once you are ready to start cooking, cube the tofu into 1-inch-ish squares and put in a bowl.  Add the cornstarch to the tofu and toss to combine.
2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, sriracha, and 1/2 cup water.  Set aside.
3.  Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a skillet or wok.  Add the tofu to the skillet and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until all sides are browned.
4.  Add the sauce to the tofu after it browns, stir, and then bring everything to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce reduces.
5.  Remove from heat, and add the sesame oil and lime juice.  Stir together.
6.  Serve with veggies, rice, or as a lettuce-wrap type meal.  Garnish with the green onions, and enjoy!

Tofu lettuce wrap with carrots!

Tofu lettuce wrap with carrots!

What’s your favorite go-to weeknight meal?

Mongolian Tofu
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 block extra firm tofu (see Step 1 for directions on preparing this ingredient)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili sauce, like sriracha
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Juice of ½ lime
Directions
  1. At least 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking, put your blocks of tofu on a plate, cover with a stack of paper towels, and then place a heavy pan or other object on top. This will squeeze out the water from the tofu, allowing you to make it crispier when you fry it. Once you are ready to start cooking, cube the tofu into 1-inch-ish squares and put in a bowl. Add the cornstarch to the tofu and toss to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, sriracha, and ½ cup water. Set aside.
  3. Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a skillet or wok. Add the tofu to the skillet and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until all sides are browned.
  4. Add the sauce to the tofu after it browns, stir, and then bring everything to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce reduces.
  5. Remove from heat, and add the sesame oil and lime juice. Stir together.
  6. Serve with veggies, rice, or as a lettuce-wrap type meal. Garnish with the green onions, and enjoy!