Kale & Apple Slaw

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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? 

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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Kale and Apple Slaw

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

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.


Eggplant & Tomato Caprese Salad

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I’m so excited to be working with my friends at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, New York this summer.  The farm grows organic vegetables, fruit, flowers, and wheat and over the last few years I have loved experimenting with the different fruits and veggies that show up in the CSA box each week. This year, Amber Waves opened a beautiful new farm store, and to celebrate, I’ll be sharing recipes inspired by what’s in season and available at the farm all summer long. Wherever you live, I hope you’ll find inspiration to cook seasonally, eat locally, and explore delicious new ways eat your way through the summer!

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I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to add vegetables to my cooking routine is to incorporate them into dishes I already love. Eggplant is the perfect example. I don’t buy eggplant often, and when I do, it’s usually to throw on the grill with other summer vegetables. It’s good, it’s fine, but let’s face it, unless the recipe involves tomato sauce, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, people don’t usually rave about eggplant.

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BUT, sneak eggplant into a Caprese salad, and you will never look at it the same way again. There’s something about the contrast of the charred eggplant, juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil that heightens the flavor of each ingredient, so you really taste each one. Rather than getting lost under a bunch of other grilled veggies, eggplant is the star here. And fished with a generous drizzle of syrupy balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of sea salt, it’s the kind of eggplant recipe you might actually end up raving about.

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A few notes… Because this recipe so simple, the key is starting with the best ingredients you can find: firm-ripe summer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and good-quality, aged balsamic vinegar for that thick drizzle. For this recipe, I used medium-size tomatoes, but larger beefsteak tomatoes will also work. Since eggplants are a different thickness throughout, the diameter of the tomatoes and the eggplant slices won’t be exactly even. I think it’s kind of fun (and easier) that way, but you can do your best to arrange the slices of tomato and eggplant by size for a neater presentation.

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Eggplant & Tomato Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tomatoes, sliced ½-inch thick
  • 2 medium eggplants, sliced in ½-inch thick rounds
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • good-quality, aged balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • coarse sea salt

Directions

Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals or set a gas grill to medium-high heat.

Brush the eggplant slices generously with olive oil on both sides, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, until charred on the outside and soft on the inside. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

On a large rectangular platter, layer the tomatoes, mozzarella, eggplant and basil in diagonal rows. Drizzle generously with vinegar and olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Serve at room temperature.