It’s 3 am; a howling wind woke me and I remembered that I’d forgotten to put together the Mindfulness Bread before bed. Sadie and I shuffled sleepily downstairs to raid the mindfulness drawer (I know, so awesome!!) in the new pantry.
A few years ago, when I toddled down in the middle of the night, I’d often find a bunch of towering young men raiding the fridge. Few things in life have made me happier than taking to the stove to make my tall son and his buddies something special after a long night of partying or gaming. Brian’s best friend, Sam’s request for a recipe for my kale chips was the inspiration for my first-ever blog! So, in a way, I have him to thank for this whole, crazy endeavor!
One of the great pleasures of being a parent is getting to know the people your children bring into your life. Sam and Brian met in fourth grade. They often had sleepovers on Saturday nights, and since Sam’s dad, Scott, was the priest of the local Episcopal Church, Sam would get up for church on Sunday mornings. It became a ritual for me to bake scones for him and drive him into the village before everyone else awoke. I’d get to hear a bit of news about his incredible family or something funny Brian said in school.
This past Friday night, Sam drove from his current home in Omaha to Warwick to introduce his wonderful girlfriend, Catherine, to all his friends here. We loved her! I texted Brian in Washington to tell him what I was serving for dinner. He said he didn’t want to know because it made him jealous that they got to eat my cooking. I suspect it also made him jealous that we were meeting Catherine in person while so far he’s had to settle for Skype.
I made “squiggly pasta,” Sam’s name for spaezle. And I created this salad, a loaf of homemade sourdough, and Genius-ish Umami Cauliflower. And Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies with a chocolate, dulce de leche version of my no churn ice cream.
This is another one of those combinations that is greater than the sum of its parts. You know by now that I am a fan of hitting all of the flavor sensations humans perceive: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami; this salad does that, and then some. Bob says the tastes really “pop.” The earthiness of the kale, savory-saltiness of the cheese, and sweet zing of the fruit play perfectly with the toasty crisp walnuts. And then, of course, there’s the maple syrup! It was so good, I made it again for Easter dinner (below).
Flavor Bomb Kale Salad
I like to use baby kale for salad, but if you prefer, tuscan kale is great, or you can use curly; just remove ribs and cut or tear the leaves into small pieces.
You may make this up to a day before serving. It’s great right away, but kale is one of the few salad greens that benefit from sitting in dressing for a while.
12 oz. baby kale
6 large or 8 small strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted*
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (Roquefort or Gorgonzola are my faves), divided
2 tbs maple syrup
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
3 tbs xv olive oil or walnut oil
flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper
optional: violets or other edible flowers; minced fresh chives
*I toast nuts in the microwave; it does a great job. No worrying about forgetting them in the oven or on the stove and having them burn on you. This amount of walnuts takes about 70 seconds on high.
Place the kale in the bowl of a standing mixer. Alternatively, you may massage it by hand, but if you have a mixer, I urge you to use it. Add half of the cheese, the maple syrup, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, and turn the mixer on low. Let it massage the kale for a minute or so. You want it wilted, but not pulverized.
Place the kale in a pretty serving bowl, like the wood fired one you see here. Top with the berries, walnuts, remaining cheese, and the flowers and chives, if you like. Add a little extra maple syrup if you are, like me, sweet on maple.
Variations: Raspberries hit the same notes as strawberries. You could also do this with black or blueberries, or mandarin orange slices or segments. Pecans are good instead of the walnuts. And honey is a terrific alternative to the syrup.
DebsPots news: Mary and I are hard at work putting the finishing touches on the Etsy store. We hope to have a Grand Opening in time for Mother’s Day gifting. Check back next week for more info!