Kale Caesar with Roasted Summer Corn and Cornbread Croutons

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Do you like Caesar salads? Do you like corn on the cob? Do you enjoy the taste of raw kale masked by a delicious, creamy dressing? If so, this salad is for you. Side salads on summer buffets are usually an afterthought- after all, how can a bowl of lettuce hold a candle to baked beans, buttery corn on the cob and big stacks of tomatoes and mozzarella? But this salad earns its spot on the table.

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Local corn at Balsam Farms in East Hampton…even the corn in the Hamptons is famous.

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The kale is cut into thin ribbons so it’s easy to eat and the dressing gets well distributed. Tangled throughout the salad are crunchy corn kernels and chunks of cornbread that soak up all that Caesar dressing as they sit, making this a great recipe to put together in advance.  There’s just something about the lemony  dressing and toasted cornbread  that makes this difficult to stop eating, which is not something I usually say about kale salads.

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Caesar dressing is traditionally made with Parmesan cheese, but I used Pecorino in this recipe because I think the sharper, saltier flavor goes really well with the slightly sweet cornbread and roasted corn. If you’re worried about using raw eggs, you can substitute mayo or Greek yogurt. And if you don’t like anchovies, you could leave them out, but I wouldn’t recommend it (unless you want to make the dish vegetarian.) A very experienced cook recently told me, “Never underestimate the power of an anchovy.” You won’t know it’s there but it gives the dressing its fundamental Caesar-ness.

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This salad is a serious crowd pleaser and an ideal dish for a big summer dinner. The recipe serves 6-8 generously, but you could cut in half if you’re cooking for a smaller group.

Kale Caesar Salad with Roasted Summer Corn and Cornbread Croutons

Ingredients

  1. 3 cups diced cornbread or corn muffins
  2. kernels cut from 4 large ears of fresh corn
  3. 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  4. 3 bunches Tuscan kale
  5. Caesar Dressing, recipe follows
  6. ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  7. kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and arrange two evenly spaced oven racks.
  2. Spread the cornbread and the corn onto two separate sheet pans. Drizzle the corn with the olive oil and toss to combine. Sprinkle each sheet pan lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing the cornbread and corn halfway through. Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, chiffonade the kale: cut along each side of the rib to remove the leaves on each side. You should end up with two long strips from each rib. Roll the leaves lengthwise into “cigars” and slice them thinly crosswise to cut the kale into ribbons. Wash the kale and dry it using a salad spinner.
  4. To assemble the salad, pour the dressing over the kale and toss well. Add the corn and croutons, and the Pecorino, and toss again. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to several hours, bringing the salad back to room temperature before serving.


Caesar Dressing

  • Servings: Makes about 1 1/3 cups
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Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard, such as Grey Poupon
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 anchovy, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature (optional)*
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, lightly packed

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, anchovy, egg yolk, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined. With the processor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream. Add the Pecorino, and pulse until just combined. Refrigerate in a sealed container until ready to use.
  2. *If not using the egg yolk, substitute 1 1/2 tbs mayonnaise or whole-milk Greek yogurt

Moroccan Chicken Chili with Butternut Squash

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(Originally published on Delish.com)

I once did a hard-hitting news story for my high school paper about the beloved meat chili in the school cafeteria. (In retrospect I’m not sure how many people loved it aside from my best friend and me, but that’s beside the point.) During our interview, the woman who made the chili shared her secret: “I make a batch on Monday and then let it sit around for about a week before serving it.”

Having eaten that chili probably a hundred times, I wished I’d never asked.  But years later, and many batches of homemade chili later, I understand what she meant. Chili is good the day it’s made, but it’s really good if it sits for a day or two and the flavors have time to develop.

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While I have fond memories of that cafeteria chili, I wanted to come up a version that was more… 2015. This recipe has all the essential chili elements—it’s hearty, full of vegetables, and spicy—but with Moroccan-inspired ingredients and spices, it’s also a updated twist on the classic.

Most turkey or chicken chili recipes call for ground meat, which is extremely lean, but because it has very little fat, it often ends up having very little flavor. Instead, I used shredded breast meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, which is still lean but so much more flavorful and tender than ground meat. And because the chicken is shredded, as opposed to cubed, it really absorbs the spices. A win win.

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Butternut squash thickens the chili and adds a barely discernible sweetness—just enough to balance out the spice. And in keeping with the Moroccan theme, I used chickpeas instead of beans. I find they hold their shape better than cooked beans, especially if you’re planning on reheating the chili over several days, cafeteria style.

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The heat here comes from harissa, a spicy red pepper paste that’s a mainstay of many Moroccan and North African recipes.  Think of it as Sriracha’s much cooler and more potent sister. (If you’re the kind of person who likes to douse your eggs with Sriracha, try mixing in a little harissa next time for a distinctly different kick.) I call for a moderate amount of harissa for this chili, but feel free to add or subtract a ½ tsp. or so depending on your heat preference. And don’t forget to finish off the bowl with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of parsley to cool things down.

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Finally, despite the secret behind that cafeteria chili of yesteryear, I don’t think I’d make this recipe an entire week in advance. One or two days will do the trick, but by all means, if you’d rather eat the chili the minute it’s done, go for it.

Moroccan Chicken Chili with Butternut Squash

Ingredients


– 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
– 1½ cups chopped yellow onion (one large onion)
– 2 tsp minced fresh garlic (2 cloves)
– 1 lb butternut squash, peeled and ¾ inch diced
– 1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
– 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, such as College Inn
– 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
– 1 ½ tsp ground paprika
– 2 tsp ground cumin
– 1/8 tsp ground allspice
– 1 1/2 tsp harissa
– 2 tbs dark brown sugar
– 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I like Goya)
– 3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast, from a rotisserie chicken
– Plain whole milk yogurt, for serving
– Minced flat-leaf parsley, for serving
– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the butternut squash and garlic and cook for one more minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, allspice, harissa, brown sugar and 2 tsp salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 35-40 minutes, until the squash is tender and the broth has thickened considerably.
  3. Using a potato masher, bottom of a whisk or a wooden spoon, lightly mash about half of the butternut squash. (Don’t worry about being exact here- the idea is just to thicken the broth while still leaving some whole chunks of squash.)
  4. Add the chicken and chickpeas and simmer for ten more minutes. Taste and add another ½ tsp of harissa if desired.
  5. To serve: In a small bowl, combine 1 cup yogurt with ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper. Ladle chili into bowls and top with a spoonful of yogurt and a sprinkle of parsley. Serve hot.