We’re all trying to eat a little healthier in January, but you know what, it’s hard! It’s freezing in East Hampton and after a long day, all I want is a big glass of red wine and a bowl of pasta. Or maybe some kind of braised meat. Or maybe pasta with a braised meat sauce? See what I mean?
But vegetables don’t have to be a punishment. This Kale and Apple Slaw is one of my favorite winter salads because while it’s full of produce and relatively healthy (Parmesan is healthy, right?? ), it’s also totally satisfying. The slaw has lots of different textures and flavors that make it much more interesting and delicious than your average bowl of kale. With the crunchy, sweet apple, sharp onion, toasted pecans and salty Parmesan, each bite is like a little meal in itself.
If you’re looking for diet food, you might want to keep looking. But if you’re looking for a tasty salad that won’t leave you feeling hungry and a little sadder than you were before you ate it, you’ve come to the right place.
This slaw is great either on its own for lunch or as a side to hearty winter main courses. I especially love it with roast chicken or turkey chili. The recipe makes a LOT of salad, but leftovers keep well if you aren’t feeding a crowd. (The pecans and apples will get a little bit soggy if the salad sits overnight, but not enough to keep me from eating this salad straight from the tupperware for lunch the next day.)
Kale and Apple Slaw
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1 bunch curly kale (12 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup very thinly sliced red onion (about ¼ onion)
- 1 crisp, sweet apple, such as Fuji, cut into matchsticks
- 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese, see note (2 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a sheet pan and roast for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then roughly chop the pecans and set aside.
Wash the kale leaves and pat them dry with a paper towel. Lay the leaves flat on a cutting board and cut down both sides of the center rib, discarding the rib. Using a sharp knife, cut the leaves crosswise into thin strips, as you would for coleslaw.
In a small, glass measuring cup, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Pour the dressing over the kale, and using tongs or two serving spoons, toss the kale for a full thirty seconds. Set aside to let the kale marinate for at least 20 minutes, or up to several hours in the fridge, covered, before serving.
Meanwhile, place the onions in a mesh strainer or colander and rinse under warm tap water for thirty seconds to remove some of their “bite.” Drain and set aside.
When ready to serve, add the pecans, onions, and apple to the kale and toss well to combine. Add the Parmesan, toss gently, and serve.
Note: I use a vegetable peeler to make big shavings of Parmesan.
I know, these next few weeks are supposed to be all about pies. But does the world really need another recipe for pumpkin or pecan pie? Don’t get me wrong, I love both of them, (especially cold out of the fridge the morning after Thanksgiving) but I thought it would be more fun to come up with a new take on fall flavors than trying to reinvent the proverbial Thanksgiving wheel.
This Pear and Hazelnut Cake has been my little baking project this fall, and I’m really excited to share the final recipe with you. It’s a versatile cake that would be as welcome on a weeknight or Sunday afternoon as it would be at a dinner party or holiday table. The pears make for a dramatic presentation, but because this cake is baked “upside-down” and then flipped before serving, making that pretty pear pattern couldn’t be easier.
Pear and hazelnuts go really well together- the flavors complement each other and neither one overpowers the other. And without the addition of traditional fall spices, which have a way of making everything taste the same (ahem, pumpkin spice) the pear and hazelnut flavors are really clear. The addition of browned butter to the cake adds another layer of nuttiness, and somehow the batter ends up tasting just like toasted marshmallows and hazelnuts. Mmm.
I use Bosc pears because they have a beautiful long pear shape, and they don’t get as soft and juicy as other pears do when they’re ripe. This makes them less ideal for eating raw, but for perfect for baking. If the pears are rock hard at the store, I let them sit on the counter for a few days to ripen before using them. The pears go into the pan over a mixture of butter, dark brown sugar and maple syrup and are perfectly tender and subtly sweet when the cake comes out.
Now, I know not everyone hosts or attends the sort of Thanksgiving where non-traditional desserts are welcome, and I understand that. It’s the one time of year we fill a plate with four kinds of pie while explaining that this is the one time of year we get to eat these pies. It’s a great tradition. But I still think this cake would be a terrific addition to any Thanksgiving dessert spread. And I can say from experience that it, too, is even better eaten out of the fridge the next morning…
Pear and Hazelnut Cake
Ingredients1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided, plus more for greasing the pan
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 ripe Bosc pears
1 cup raw hazelnuts, finely ground in a food processor
½ cup all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
unsweetened whipped cream, for serving (see note)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
In a small sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-low heat and cook until golden brown flecks form all around the edges of the pan. Watch the butter carefully because it will burn quickly! Remove the pan from the heat and using a rubber spatula, scrape the browned butter into a small bowl to cool, making sure to scrape up all the brown bits.
In a small bowl combine the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar and stir to combine. Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cut pears in half through the stem. Trim the stems and carefully core the pears with a melon baller or teaspoon. Cut two 1/2-inch thick slices (lengthwise) from each half so you end up with 4 slices from each pear. Artfully arrange the pears, cut sides down, on top of the butter mixture.
In a small bowl, combine the ground hazelnuts, flour and salt, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (hand mixer works, too!), beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until the egg whites form firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the browned butter, then the nut/flour mixture, until just combined. Transfer the batter to the pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the cake is lightly browned around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool for five minutes and then carefully invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with unsweetened whipped cream.
Note: To make unsweetened whipped cream, whip 1 cup cold heavy cream with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or in large mixing bowl using a hand mixer. Whip until just firm and serve immediately.