Vegetarian Kale Salad

Vegetarian Kale Salad

Kale. It’s a leafy green whose preparation seems to stump so many people! And yet, it’s so freakin’ versatile.

My sister uses kale regularly, and she offered to share her very favorite vegetarian kale salad with me. Yay! We’ve received kale in our last two small bag deliveries from Hometown Harvest, so I’m in need of some great go-to recipes myself. This one fits the bill.

Before we get into recipe specifics, let’s take a look at some notes Josie sent me with the recipe:

We make this salad at least once a week in our house. It’s the best because it’s good right after you make it and really good the next day (as opposed to salad made with tender greens which is gross the next day). Sometimes I eat enough of it to make an entire meal but it’s also good along with other main dishes like mac and cheese, lentil soup, or a hummus sandwich.

Vegetarian Kale Salad

After you make this salad once, you will easily make it your own. Prefer walnuts or pine nuts instead of pecans? Like sweeter dressing? Like more fruit? It’s really easy to customize since the ingredients are so simple. Bonus: the lemon dressing I use keeps the apples or pears from browning!

Mmmm…. I love fruit and nuts in just about any salad, especially those made with spinach, kale or chard!

Vegetarian Kale Salad

I need more kale details.

When can I buy kale, and what makes this salad awesome?

Kale is in season pretty much year round in the Mid-Atlantic. For us, the biggest variable in this salad is what fruit is in season. This time of year we use apples and pears because they can be stored and one of the farmers at our farmers’ market brings them for most of the winter. But winter is also known for Florida citrus and this salad is great with ripe orange, grapefruit, clementine, or blood orange slices. In the spring it’s great with strawberries, summer with peaches or nectarines – you get it, it’s really good with whatever fruit is in season.

What about the kale though? What kind works best for a salad? How many different kinds are there?

You can use any kale for this recipe. I’ve made it with curly kale, ‘dinosaur kale’ (pictured), and red russian kale (which is a flat leaf kind). Dinosaur kale is the most tender and you can sometimes get away with eating the stems. Curly kale and red russian kale both have extreme tough stems but the leaves are delicious. If you come across purple kale, it can make a beautiful mix along with the green leaves and color of the fruit.

And now, the recipe!

My vegetarian sister, Josie Johnson, is the lead farmer at Battery Urban Farm in NYC. She also makes handmade soaps, lip balm, bags and knits in her Brooklyn apartment – you can find those for sale in her Paper and Plow Etsy shop.

Vegetarian Kale Salad
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped into thin strips
  • 2 lemons (if they are small, if they are large 1 should be enough)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp salt (plus more to taste)
  • ½ tsp pepper (plus more to taste)
  • ¼ olive oil
  • 1 large apple, cubed (skin on for us)
  • 1 cup raw pecans, chopped
Instructions
  1. Put prepared kale into a large bowl. Juice one of the lemons over the kale. Toss the kale until thoroughly coated and set aside. It's important that the kale sit a while in the lemon juice, it helps tenderize the leaves.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, juice the other lemon. Your looking for ⅛ - ¼ of a cup of juice - doesn't need to be exact. Add the honey, salt, and pepper and stir until emulsified. Taste the dressing and add more of what it needs. It should be slightly less tart than you want it to be since there is already lemon juice on the kale.
  3. In a dry pan toast the pecans over medium heat until they are browned. Stir somewhat frequently until they start to sizzle a little and smell really nutty and delicious. Keep an eye on them, once they start to brown they pick up pace and can burn quickly. But to be honest, we kind of like the 'toastier' ones in our house.
  4. Add the apple and pecans to the kale, pour on the dressing and toss. I like to let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes in the dressing before eating.

 

Vegetarian Meatball Sub

Vegetarian Meatball Sub

My sister is a unique type of vegetarian. Before she made the switch (about six-and-a-half years ago) she enjoyed eating meat. Loved it, really.

Yes, very true. Loved is a better term.

We used to live next door to each other before she started farming, and it was a really cool set-up. We’d cook together a few times a week, and most many of the meals contained things like, bacon, bacon and more BACON.

We liked bacon. I still like bacon. SHE liked bacon when she decided to make the switch. And fried chicken. In fact, she still drools over both of them. No grossed out feelings when she watches me, or anyone else, eat meat.

So, why then, would my sister decide to become a vegetarian?

Well, the actual answer is that I started by eating meat only when I knew where it came from, and how it was raised. That got expensive and hard-ish to find. And I stopped for a while. I realized that I felt really great, plenty of energy, etc. And then I simply felt like I couldn’t justify eating an animal only because I liked the way it tastes. I still feel that way. Which sucks cause you can’t really make excuses for that one. LOL

One vegetarian decision doesn’t beget another, friends. Interesting, right?

My sister and I were chatting the other day and she mentioned making meatball subs over the weekend, based on a recipe from “The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations,” by Kim O’Donnel. Meatball subs. Clearly I had to know more, so I quickly shot her a message asking her to photograph EVERYTHING and to follow up by sending me a recipe. I had to know how a vegetarian meatball sub turned out.

Luckily, she’s okay with entertaining my bizarre, last minute requests, starting with a shot of the cooked lentils and garlic cooling her windowsill.

Vegetarian Meatball Sub

Followed by a shot of the meatball mixture: lentils, rice, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt, pepper and egg.

Vegetarian Meatball Sub

Next up: a shot of the rolled meatballs, and after this photo she chilled them for a while.

Vegetarian Meatball Sub

Then, FRYING! She pan-fried the meatballs on all four sides. Or, whatever you call the “sides” of a sphere shape.

Vegetarian Meatball Sub

And lots of mozzarella with a toasty bun?  Sure!

Vegetarian Meatball Sub

And, of course, sauce…and…more…CHEESE.

Vegetarian Meatball Sub

PSSStttt…. Here’s the book:

Vegetarian Meatball Sub

So, wanna know the recipe? It’s pretty close to the original, but she did make a few changes. Enjoy!

My vegetarian sister, Josie Johnson, is the lead farmer at Battery Urban Farm in NYC. She also makes handmade soaps, lip balm, bags and knits in her Brooklyn apartment – you can find those for sale in her Paper and Plow Etsy shop.
 
Vegetarian Meatball Sub
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6 cups water
  • ½ cup cooked long-grain brown rice, cooled
  • 1 cup dried brown or green lentils
  • 5 garlic cloves: 2 whole, 3 minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus ½ cup for panfrying
  • 1 medium sized onion, grated
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 23-28oz can of tomato puree
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs or panko
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • 6 6-inch sub rolls, toasted
  • Fresh mozzarella for topping
Instructions
  1. Place the lentils in a large saucepan along with the 2 whole garlic cloves and the water. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat to keep it at a simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils thoroughly and then spread them out on a sheet pan to cool completely.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, prepare the marinara sauce. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add ¼ cup of onion and the 3 minced garlic cloves, and continue cooking until they're softened - about 3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of the dried oregano, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the tomato puree, stirring to combine, and then bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, and let the sauce simmer (covered) for 20 minutes. Then keep it warm until you're ready to make the sandwiches.
  4. Place the cooled lentils and garlic into a food processor and pulse until they're mashed. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl, add the rice, remaining onion, oregano, grated cheese, egg, salt, pepper and bread crumbs. Use a wooden spoon (or your hands!) to mix everything together well.
  5. Using a ¼ measure or an ice cream scoop, shape into balls and place them on a cookie sheet.They'll be sticky! Refrigerate them for 20 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  7. Over medium-high heat, heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet until the oil shimmers. Gently lower the balls into the oil, cooking for about 2 minutes on each of 4 sides - until they're browned. Cook them in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan, and lower the heat to medium after the first batch is done.
  8. Transfer the first batch to a baking sheet to finish cooking for 5 minutes. Lower the oven to 225°F to keep them warm.
  9. Put the vegetarian meatball subs together with the marinara and plenty of mozzarella - you'll want to broil the subs to make the cheese all melty and gooey. Makes enough for 6 subs, so freeze any of the meatballs you don't plan to use right away.

Sliced Roasted Potatoes

sliced roasted potatoes

It’s always great to have an easy, inexpensive side at your fingertips. We’re no strangers to potato sides, as potatoes happen to be a favorite mine and they’re so stinkin’ versatile. Mashed, roasted, baked, whipped, fried – the list is endless. Mmmm….

Let’s talk roasted potatoes….

Roasted potatoes are in their prime when the insides are soft and fluffy, and the outsides are crispy and melt-in-your-mouth perfect. It doesn’t take much to enhance their flavor – a little sea salt, some olive oil, a sliced onion, and whatever herbs you have on hand. The most important thing though? A really hot oven.

I can’t say I have one type of potato that works better than another for roasted potatoes, but I talked about the different kinds of potatoes and what they’re typically used for in this article if you need to take a peek. I usually just buy what’s on sale that week at the market.

To switch up our typical chunky roasted potatoes recipe, I sliced them the other day. I loved how extra crispy the edges got, and also how they cooked a little quicker than the standard roasted potatoes. Enjoy!

Sliced Roasted Potatoes
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 medium potatoes (skins on & sliced ⅛" thin)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley (or whatever herb you have)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the potatoes, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper together in a large bowl, and then loosely layer them in a casserole dish.
  2. Bake the potatoes for about 30 minutes, flipping them over about half-way through the cooking time. The potatoes are done when they're fork-tender and browned around the edges.

Homemade Applesauce in the Slow Cooker

The other day my parents shared a bunch of “seconds” with us from a trip to a local apple orchard.

homemade applesauce, how to make applesauce, homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

If you’re wondering what “seconds” are, they’re the fruits and veggies that are too bruised, oddly shaped, or bug-holed to be sold in the “regular” market. They’re the ugly fruits.

homemade applesauce, how to make applesauce, homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

Personally, I love these imperfect fruits because it’s clear to me that pesticides and other unhealthy additives weren’t used. Yay! And, produce doesn’t have to look perfect to taste perfect. True story.

This particular bagful contained nearly 20 apples, and since I didn’t have any other all-day plans for my slow cooker, I thought:

Why not make homemade applesauce in the slow cooker?

This involved lots of peeling and dicing.

homemade applesauce, how to make applesauce, homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

I used all 18 apples that came in the bag. (That’s a lot of peeling.)

homemade applesauce, how to make applesauce, homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

Once ALL the apples were peeled and diced, into the slow cooker they went with lemon juice + zest, cinnamon, brown sugar, cardamom and a little apple cider! And then they cooked, low and slow.

homemade applesauce, how to make applesauce, homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

Seven hours later, I was left with apples that were fall-apart-tender and completely transformed into a dark, rich color. The scent in the house was UNbelievable.

how to make applesauce, homemade applesauce, homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

I scooped them out into a large bowl with a slotted spoon because there was a little more juice in there than I wanted in the applesauce. Then I used a simple handheld metal potato masher to make the applesauce, but honestly, I could’ve just used a fork (that’s how amazingly tender those apples were).

how to make applesauce, homemade applesauce, homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

My husband had to try the applesauce before it had even cooled. His reaction?

HOT damn! That’s the best applesauce I’ve ever had.

Well, then. Thankyouverymuch.

Homemade Applesauce in the Slow Cooker
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
You'll never go back to jarred applesauce after trying this easy slow cooker recipe!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 18-20 medium apples (any variety)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ cup apple cider
Instructions
  1. Peel and then slice the apples into large chucks (6-8 slices each). Toss the apple slices into a slow cooker.
  2. Add the lemon zest + juice, cinnamon, brown sugar, cardamom and cider, and then toss everything together to coat the apples completely. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked apples to a large bowl, and then use a fork or potato masher to turn the apples into applesauce! Cool completely before serving. Makes about 4 cups.

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