I’ve found so many inspiring, entertaining and creative blogs since I started writing my own. I’m amazed at the number of people who love food as much as I do!! While reading one blog that I particularly enjoy, What I Ate Yesterday, I learned about a weekly contest where a secret ingredient is chosen by a host blogger, and then other bloggers are given the opportunity to submit recipes using that ingredient. It just so happens that this week’s secret ingredient is kale, which is one of my favorite greens! Of course, I couldn’t resist entering. I know I’m kind of new to the party, so I hope they don’t mind!
The recipe I came up with uses my favorite technique for cooking veggies: oven roasting. Oven roasted kale? You bet! A few years ago, I had a meal at Rasika, a restaurant in DC, and one of the appetizers involved crispy fried spinach topped with a little bit of creamy dressing. It was so good! It had never occurred to me to have crispy greens! Mine were always slow cooked or wilted down in a skillet.
Since I’m not really one to fry things in vats of oil, I was looking for another way to get nice crispy greens. The answer, as usual, involved some oven roasting. As for the salad toppings, I was thinking of what would go well with the slight bite of kale, and sweet and tangy pomegranate seeds seemed like a good choice. I’m trying to eat as many pomegranate seeds as I can before they disappear until next season! I had the pomegranate molasses from a previous cooking adventure, and it was just the thing to add some sweetness and tang to my little drizzle. Finally, I always love toasted nuts in my salads, and I decided that while I was having a bowlful of super foods, I might as well have some toasted walnuts on the top!
Crispy Kale Salad with Walnuts and Pomegranate Drizzle
1/2 pound kale, rinsed and patted dry
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt (or 1/8 tsp. regular table salt)
1/4 cup Fage 0% nonfat Greek yogurt
4 tsp. pomegranate molasses
4 Tbsp. pomegranate seeds
2 Tbsp. walnuts, toasted and chopped
Cooking the Kale
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a baking sheet well with nonstick cooking spray. After washing and patting the kale dry, remove the tough stems and tear kale into medium sized pieces. Toss the kale on the baking sheet, and drizzle with 2 tsp. of olive oil. After adding the oil, spray the kale with more nonstick cooking spray. Use your hands to mix the kale around on the baking sheet making sure it is coated in the cooking spray and olive oil.
It is ok if the kale isn’t in a single layer as it is going to cook down rather quickly. Pop the baking sheet in the oven and set the timer for 5 minutes. The kale is going to cook for a total of 15-20 minutes, but it is really important to give it a stir every 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and stir the kale. Put it back in the oven for 5 more minutes. After a total of 10 minutes, remove the kale from the oven and stir it again. Then sprinkle it with 1/2 tsp. of coarse sea salt. Return it to the oven for another 5 minutes. After a total of 15 minutes in the oven, take it out and stir it again. You may find that it is tender and crispy enough to suit you at this point. If you think it needs a little more time, pop it back into the oven for a couple more minutes but keep a close eye on it. After it is cooked to a crispy browned loveliness, remove from the oven and set aside.
This is so easy that it hardly even merits a separate section! Place the 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt and the 4 tsp. of pomegranate molasses in a small bowl, and mix well with a fork. If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, you might try mixing in a small amount of pomegranate juice and honey.
Assembling The Salad
Divide the kale among four medium sized plates. Top each plate of kale with 1/4 of the pomegranate drizzle. The mixture is rather thick, but I used a fork to make sure to drizzle it around fairly evenly. Next, top each bowl with 1 Tbsp. of pomegranate seeds and 1/2 Tbsp. of toasted walnuts.
This makes 4 unofficial 2 point servings.
If the idea of a kale salad seems odd to you, trust me on this one! The kale was light and crispy and went so well with the creamy and crunchy toppings. The flavors were amazing together. The kale, by the way, would also be great roasted and eaten plain. I would serve this is a starter or a side dish along with a nice piece of grilled tilapia or a juicy pork tenderloin. This is a salad that I would be proud to serve to guests, and that I’m thrilled to be serving to myself today!
In other news, I went to the Kennedy Center last night to see Swan Lake performed by the American Ballet Theatre. Before going to law school, I taught music in public schools in southern Missouri for four years. My undergraduate degree is in vocal music performance, and, although I am just a spectator these days, I very much enjoy attending events and supporting the arts.
The Kennedy Center is a fun place to go, and I’m always happy to walk through the doors into the grand hall of nations which is lined with flags from every country with which the United States has diplomatic relations:
The red carpet is so festive! I like getting the red carpet treatment!! Our seats were pretty high up, but that just means that I was closer to the gorgeous ceiling of the opera house. When I find myself sitting in the opera house rafters, I can never resist snapping pictures of the ceiling spangles. I always think that I’d like to have a necklace inspired by them. The spangles are deliciously extravagant and, well, sparkly!
I wasn’t allowed to take pictures during the performance, but my friend snapped this picture of me holding the program. Pay close attention to the ballerina’s costume:
I enjoyed the ballet, but I must have been a little bit hungry. The fluffy white swan costumes made me think of… meringues!!
I think that the ballet is kind of like the sporting event of the arts world. The dancers flit, twirl and leap around weightlessly on the stage making it look so effortless and so beautiful. If you are close enough (or if you remember your opera glasses), it is impossible to miss the rippling muscles. The dancers are so fit and have such amazing control over every little movement. Sometimes my mind tends to wander… it happens… and I think of what it would feel like to move in the same way. My kickboxing class wears me out, and I’m not even trying to look good or depict a graceful swan. It amazes me!
I also love the melodrama of the story. I was thinking about how I would have pitched it to my music students back in the day. “Swan Lake: A Ballet About Hunting,” is the possibility that came to mind. You see, kids, this hunter goes out into the woods to shoot a swan. Instead, he encounters a swan who turns into a pretty girl and falls in love with her… You get the idea. That might have worked. Who knows! I certainly had plenty of students who liked to hunt.
I had a great time, and I think I’m going to have to make some meringues now. Those fluffy swan skirts have inspired me to cook! Inspiration, athleticism and lovely music– what a great way to spend my evening!