Kale & Delicata Squash Salad with Lentils, Toasted Walnuts & Quinoa

 

This is a wonderful warming and unique winter salad that will fill you up and make you feel oh so good for your day. I like to roast a bunch of squash or different kinds of vegetables all in one go, and then have them on hand to throw together salads like this. It might look like a number of steps in the recipe below, but if you do this once a week, then many of these components can be re-used and re-created into new and different meals all week long.

Cook once, and assemble several interesting, delicious and good-for-you meals. That’s what makes life simpler mentally, and is good for your physical health too.

If you roast some of this delicata squash, you can use some to make soup, add to a risotto, serve as a side to chicken or fish, or use in any variety of salads. I’m sure there are so many other ways to use it too! Let me know in the comments what dishes you like to make with it.  I hope you love the recipe below.

This is how to cook more efficiently. Quinoa top left. Lentils top right. Roasted squash half moons on bottom left. The start of a delicata squash soup bottom right. The soup can be made and frozen for future weeks if desired, but you’ve maximized the use of your time and the heat of your oven by roasted the squash all at once and cooking multiple meals in one session.

Feel free to play around with the spices in this dish and change out the rosemary. Moroccan spice blends also go great with the squash and lentil combination. Yum!

Kale & Delicata Squash Salad with Lentils, Toasted Walnuts & Quinoa

Yields: 6 hearty salads

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale, you want about 8 cups of torn leaves (Lacinato or curly leaf)

½ – ¾ cups walnuts

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 tablespoon safflower, sunflower or grapeseed oil

1 small/medium delicata squash

1 cup dried lentils

½ cup raisins (optional)

1 cup dry quinoa 

6-8 ounces feta cheese (optional)

Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Toasted delicata squash seeds for garnish

½ cup Honey Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut off the stem of the delicata squash and then slice it down the middle longways. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Place squash guts and seeds in a colander to rinse under water so you can separate the seeds. Save the seeds for toasting later. There is no need to peel the delicata, as you can eat the peel. Remove the seeds and separate from the strings. Discard the strings/guts and compost if you have access to compost. * Now slice each of the sides of delicata squash into ½ inch half moons. Place the half moons in a bowl and coat with the safflower, sunflower or grapeseed oil, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. You can add dried or fresh rosemary or thyme if you’d like.

Once coated, place squash half moons on baking sheet and spread them out so they don’t touch too much. This helps them caramelize better. Roast for about 15-25 minutes, or until pieces are golden brown and cooked to your liking. A fork will go easily through the pieces. Check them after 15 minutes, and according to how hot your oven runs. Flip them at 15 minutes so they cook evenly.

While squash is roasting, rinse and dry the squash seeds. Coat with a bit of the sunflower or other oil, salt and pepper to your taste. You can always adjust the flavor of these with spice blends of your choice. Spread seeds evenly on a baking sheet and place in oven for 8 minutes. Check at 5 minutes if your oven runs hot. Flip or toss with a wooden spoon if needed. They’re toasted when lightly golden brown, but watch them because they can burn quickly. Remove from oven and set aside on a plate to stop them from cooking further.

Prepare the quinoa and lentils according to package directions. It’s best to rinse quinoa and to cook it with 2.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry quinoa. Lentils can be cooked to your liking. I prefer them still with a tiny bit of firmness. 

Prepare vinaigrette:

*See instructions below.

Assemble Salad:

Hold the stem of the kale and use your other hand to pull the leaf from the stem. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces. You can save the stems to compost them, or freeze in a sealed bag to make vegetable broth later. 

Place the leaves in a large salad bowl. Coat with olive oil and massage the kale leaves with your hands, crushing the leaves and massaging the oil into the leaves well. This breaks down the cellulose and makes the kale much more palatable. 

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts to the dry pan and toast for 5-8 minutes, or until barely golden brown and fragrant. Turn off the heat and set aside. Add walnuts, raisins, lentils, and quinoa to the kale and toss with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust dressing. Add black pepper, toasted squash seeds, and feta cheese if desired and enjoy! 

Any extra quinoa and/or lentils can be saved and used for other meals. 

If making salads for 2-3 days of lunches, follow these directions:

Tear the leaves and massage with oil. Then add to your meal prep containers. Add the walnuts and raisins to the salad. Put cooked quinoa and lentils on the side or in a separate compartment from the salad. 

The morning you are going to eat your salad you can combine the quinoa and lentils with the rest of the ingredients.

Take the vinaigrette and optional feta in small containers with you to lunch and dress your salad with a few tablespoons when ready to eat. Enjoy a hearty lunch or dinner!

 

Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

Yields: 1 cup vinaigrette

Serves: Covers about 10-12 salads. 

Ingredients:

2 large lemons 

⅔ cup olive oil

½ small shallot (optional)

1 or 2 cloves garlic (adjust to taste)

3 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon or brown mustard (optional)

¼ cup parsley leaves

½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)

 

Directions:

Mince garlic cloves. Remove the parsley stems and save for stock. Rough chop the parsley. 

Roll lemons under your forearm to release juices before slicing in half. [Tip: Zest them first if you need zest for another recipe. Can keep in a small amount of oil in the fridge for a week or so until use.]

Juice lemons and add to small bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whisk well to emulsify. Taste with a lettuce leaf and adjust ingredients to your taste. 

Label and date before refrigeration. 

Empowered Kitchen Tip:

I recommend doubling this recipe so you always have a stock of it in your refrigerator.

Citrus & Fennel Salad with Toasted Almonds

This is a WONDERFUL side dish for Thanksgiving or any holiday meal. It’s fresh, light and a huge crowd pleaser. This is a simple, gourmet salad that’s easy to throw together, and perfect to make ahead!

Fennel is great for digestion and the citrus gives you a boost of vitamin C. An added benefit to help ward off sickness this time of year. 🙂

Any extra fennel you have can be used to make homemade stock or you can roast it and throw it in a puréed soup!

Citrus Fennel Salad on Mixed Baby Greens

Citrus & Fennel Salad With Toasted Almonds

Yields: 8 ½ cups

Serves: 8 as a small side salad

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 ruby red grapefruits
  • 2 blood oranges
  • ½ fennel bulb thinly sliced
  • Vinaigrette
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • (1 medium or 2 small limes)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ small shallot
  • pinch of salt

 

Topping

 

  • ¼ cup roasted almonds

 

Directions:

Carefully peel and segment the fruits using a paring knife. Slice the fennel bulb where it meets the branching part of the stems. Thinly slice the bulb and cut a wedge out of the heart of the bulb, which is fibrous and difficult to eat.

Finely mince the shallot. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in small bowl and whisk well. Alternatively, put ingredients in shaker or mason jar. Fit tightly with lid and shake well. Label with name of dressing and date if there is extra and refrigerate.

Arrange fruits and fennel slices/shavings on serving plate(s).

You can toast the almonds if you’d like. If doing this step, heat a small skillet over medium heat. No oil is needed. Add whole almonds to the hot pan and toast for about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally. Once they smell fragrant and become golden brown, they’re ready. Remove almonds from the pan.

Coarsely chop the almonds (toasted or raw) and rough chop a few fennel fronds. Top the salad with almonds, fennel fronds and vinaigrette. Toss well to combine and enjoy!

The Empowered Kitchen Tips:

You can put this on a bed of fresh greens to make it even heartier. If you want to meal prep this, you can make the recipe as above and even add the dressing. It will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator. If putting on fresh greens, add the greens right before serving, so they stay crisp and fresh.

Seared Tempeh with Cashews, Edamame on Greens with Asian Dressing

Trying out tempeh for the first time, or just looking for a fresh take on it? Well, this is your recipe. It’s been a huge hit every time I’ve made it and gives tempeh so much great flavor, you’ll be sure to keep this recipe in your back pocket. 

Tempeh is a fermented cake of soybeans that includes the entire bean, thereby giving it more nutritional value in the form of more vitamins, protein and fiber. It’s a great food to add to your diet, whether or not you’re a vegetarian. This recipes is a great one to give it a try if this is your first time. It’s very affordable and satiating.

I want to acknowledge that there are a number of ingredients to make the Honey Sesame Dressing, but once you have them on hand, it’s quick and easy to put together a variety of Asian dressings, dipping sauces and marinades. Having these items stocked in your pantry will greatly increase the diversity of flavors available to you in your cooking. 

Once you have some of this dressing made, it will keep for about a week plus a few days in your refrigerator. You can the ingredients directly below. Now let’s get cooking!

Seared Tempeh With Cashews, Edamame On Greens With Asian Dressing 

Yields: 3 salads and Serves: 3 heartily

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 6 cups baby greens, arugula or spinach
  • ¾ cup cashews (raw or toasted)
  • ¾ cup edamame or fava beans (shelled)
  • 8 ounces tempeh
  • 2 tablespoons safflower or avocado oil

 

Marinade

  • ¼ cup tamari
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice

 

Honey Sesame Dressing

(Yields ~ 1 ¼ cups)

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, optional

 

Directions:

Marinade

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together to combine well.

Braise and Marinate the Tempeh

Cube tempeh into 1 inch cubes. Soak in marinade and toss to coat well. Let marinate for 5 minutes.

Preheat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add oil to hot skillet. Once oil is hot, add tempeh cubes. Stir occasionally to sear on each side until golden brown. This will take about 1 minute on each side. 

Make Dressing

Mince the garlic. Peel ginger with a spoon and grate it using a microplane or box grater. 

Combine all dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake well. Label, date and keep excess in refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

Steam Edamame and Assemble Salad

Put a small saucepan, fitted with a steamer basket, and filled with 2 inches of water over medium heat. Cover with a lid. When water is boiling, after about 2-3 minutes, place edamame in a steamer basket. Steam for about 5 minutes, or until cooked, but still maintain some firmness. Drain and rinse to cool if desired. 

Assemble salad greens on plate with slices of marinated tempeh, cashews, edamame and honey sesame dressing.  

The tempeh will last in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy on salads or with rice and vegetables until then!

Enjoy!

Honey Lemon Vinaigrette & How to Stock for Dressings

Making a few homemade salad dressings ahead of time is a great way to make it WAY more likely you’ll eat more salads. This recipe is a lovely, fresh and nutrition-packed dressing that will liven up your greens and get you in the dressing-making habit.  I’ve included a few tips for that below.

I like to have a few staples on hand to make different kinds of vinaigrettes and other salad dressings, so I can keep my salad routine interesting, flavorful and varied. 

Here are good staples to keep in mind. You can start with just a few and build your stock over time.

Dry Pantry Dressing Staples

 

  • Balsamic Vinegar (A high quality one is worth the money)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Look for single origin, which means coming from only one country)
  • Sea Salt and Peppermill with Black Peppercorns
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Rice Vinegar (original)
  • Tamari or Dark Soy Sauce (low sodium)
  • Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Dried Dill Weed
  • Shallots/Red Onion
  • Anchovies (Canned)

 

Fresh/Refrigerated Dressing Staples

 

  • Lemon/Lime
  • Dijon or other Brown Mustard
  • Parsley
  • Mayonnaise
  • Fresh Ginger Root
  • Stems of Cilantro and Parsley can be Blended in a Blended Dressing
  • Avocado 
  • Leftover Pickle Juice
  • Egg Yolk

 

Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

Yields: 1 cup vinaigrette

Serves: Covers about 10-12 salads.

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 large lemons
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • ½ small shallot (optional)
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic (adjust to taste)
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ cup parsley leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)

 

Directions:

Mince garlic cloves. Remove the parsley stems and save for stock. Rough chop the parsley.

Roll lemons under your forearm to release juices before slicing in half. [Tip: Zest them first if you need zest for another recipe. Can keep in a small amount of oil in the fridge for a week or so until use.]

Juice lemons and add to small bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whisk well to emulsify. Taste with a lettuce leaf and adjust ingredients to your taste.

Label and date before refrigeration.

Empowered Kitchen Tip:

I recommend doubling this recipe so you always have a stock of it in your refrigerator.

Vegan Kale Caesar Salad

This was my first try at a vegan caesar dressing, and it was delish! Loved it. Great option for the vegans in your life, or if you just want to mix up your dressing routine. The cashews have healthy fats, so this salad has lots of great nutritional value with the protein and fats from the garbanzo beans, avocado and cashews.

Yum! A hearty lunch to get you through the afternoon feeling great!

For meal prep you can get your boxes ready for 3 days with torn salad greens, roasted garbanzo beans and nuts in the containers. Make the dressing for the week and store in the fridge. Then take half an avocado and your dressing with you to work. Slice the avocado with a butter knife at work and toss on your dressing. 🙂 Great with a piece of bread or a side of soup.

Vegan Kale Caesar Salad

Yields: 6 salads

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 bunch curly leaf kale (about 8 cups kale leaves)
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup Chili Powder Roasted Garbanzo Beans* (see recipe below)
  • 2 avocados
  • ½ cup walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup Cashew Caesar Dressing* (see recipe below)

 

Directions:

Separate the kale stems from the leaves and tear the leaves into bite sized pieces. Place in a serving bowl and pour a tablespoon or two into the bowl and massage the leaves with the oil. This makes them taste better and easier to chew.

Tear the romaine lettuce leaves and add to the kale. You can alternatively use buttercrunch lettuce or arugula.

Slice the avocado. Coat the salad with the amount of caesar salad dressing that you like. Top with walnuts and optionally the toasted garbanzo beans. Enjoy!

Chili Powder Roasted Garbanzo Beans

Yields: About 3 cups roasted garbanzo beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste) 

 

Optional

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Rinse and drain the garbanzo beans. Pat them dry with a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel.

Combine the oil, spices and salt in a large bowl. Add lemon juice and zest if using. Mix well.

Add garbanzo beans and toss to coat well. Spread them out evenly on a well-greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake until golden brown and crispy. This will take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want them to be. You can shake the tray to toss after about 15 minutes, or stir with a heat-proof spatula.

Remove the garbanzo beans. from the oven and when cooled transfer them to a serving bowl or storage container.  

The Empowered Kitchen Tips:

These are a great snack to keep on hand and go well with tahini sauce, baba ganoush or on a salad. They’ll keep well in the fridge for a week. Label and date before putting in fridge.

Cashew Caesar Dressing (Vegan)

Yields: 2 cups

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil or olive oil 
  • 5-6 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons capers (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon or other brown mustard 
  • ½ teaspoon honey (optional)
  • Salt & black pepper to taste 
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes 

 

Directions:

Boil water in a kettle. Place the cashews in a glass or metal bowl. Pour enough water over the cashews to cover them with about ¼ inch of water. Let soak for 10-20 minutes.

Combine all of the ingredients (including the water used to soak the cashews) in a blender until smooth.

Adjust salt, pepper, lemon, garlic powder and other ingredients to your taste. More cracked pepper is always great on a caesar salad. If you aren’t vegan, you can also add 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese when you blend the ingredients together.

This dressing will keep for about 1 week in the fridge.

Citrus Beet Green Salad & Roasted Vegetable Skillet with Sofrito

Beautiful late summer evening at the Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farm in Littleton. What a dream to cook outside in this gorgeous setting with such a great audience.

Members of the farm’s CSA program were enjoying their cocktails for the start to their Farm to Fork Dinner. Before heading off to dinner they gathered around this outdoor kitchen to watch a cooking demonstration and get a sampling of the farm’s fabulous fresh produce, which is so stunning and bountiful this time of year.

Raw beet stems and greens ready to go into the skillet. 

Here are the recipes!

Citrus Sautéed Beet Greens

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch beets with stems and leaves

1 shallot

1 garlic clove

1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

2 oranges

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F. Cut the stems from the roots of the beets. Cut the beets in half and place in a loaf pan with ½ inch of water. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Steam for 30-45 minutes, or until a sharp knife goes easily through the beet. Remove the foil, let cool and then use your hands to remove the skins of the beets and discard. Be careful, as this can stain anything the beet juice comes in contact with. Dice beets into ½ inch pieces.
  2. Cut leaves off of stems. Chop the stems into ¼ inch pieces. Rough chop or tear beet leaves. Set aside on cutting board.
  3. Dice the shallot and garlic clove. Set the shallot aside. Zest the oranges and keep the zest in a small bowl.
  4. Juice the oranges into a small bowl and add the minced garlic, vinegar and honey. Mix well. Set aside.
  5. Place oil in a medium skillet, over medium high heat. Add stems and shallot and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Add beet leaves and continue to sauté for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add the bowl with the orange juice mixture to the skillet and simmer until all juice has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Depending on the size of the oranges, you may just add half the orange juice mixture and taste.  You can save the rest for a salad later in the week. Adjust salt and pepper seasoning to taste.
  7. Top with steamed beets, orange zest and enjoy!

Inspired by: http://www.spoonforkbacon.com/2013/06/citrus-sauteed-beet-stems/

Cherry Tomato Skillet With Potatoes, Bok Choy And Garlic Sofrito

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup cherry tomatoes

6 fingerling or small new potatoes

2 cups baby bok choy leaves

Salt and pepper to taste 

Sofrito:

9 garlic cloves

½ cup olive oil

2 onions

2 large tomatoes

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme (optional)

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

½ dried bay leaf

Directions:

  1. Roast the vegetables. Preheat the oven to 375º F. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet. Dice potatoes into ¼ inch pieces and place on a separate baking sheet. Coat all vegetables with a coating of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. You can optionally season them with herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme. Use your hands to coat them well.
  2. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then remove the potatoes and tomatoes from the oven. If the tomatoes look fully cooked and kind of caramelized, you can stop roasting them now.  If they are not finished, put them back in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
  3. For the potatoes, turn them with a spatula. Test them with a sharp knife for doneness. Coat again with a light coating of oil if they are very dry. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and a sharp knife goes right through the potatoes. Watch these closely, as they are cut in small pieces and have a risk of burning.
  4. Remove from the oven when fully cooked and remove from the pan. Place tomatoes and potatoes in a cast iron skillet.

Make Sofrito

  1. Finely mince the onion and garlic. Dice the tomatoes to a medium dice.
  2.   Heat the skillet to medium heat and then add the oil. Add the onion and garlic first, and saute for a minute. Crush the bay leaf. Then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and herbs.
  3.   Stir occasionally. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook for at least 10 minutes and up to 30, but stir to make sure it doesn’t burn or stick to the pan.
  4.   Enjoy on a variety of dishes. In this case it will be added to the skillet with the potatoes and tomatoes.

Make the Skillet

  1. Rough chop the baby bok choy.
  2. Heat cast iron skillet to medium heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the already roasted tomatoes and potatoes. 
  3. After 1-2 minutes of warming the roasted vegetables, add the bok choy.
  4. The bok choy will wilt quickly. Stir to combine. Once the greens are wilted, remove the skillet from the heat, top with a fried or poached egg and top with a bit of the sofrito. 
  5. This dish is great topped with a fried or poached egg.
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