Salmon Wrapped in Kale Leaves with Harissa

Salmon Kale
~ Salmon Wrapped in Kale with Dill and Harissa ~

In this latest installment of Cooking for your Health, the focus is on promoting health and weight loss without sacrificing the pleasure of good food. Low-fat, nutrient-rich diets do not need to be boring or tasteless. This recipe for Salmon Wrapped in Kale Leaves with Dill and Harissa proves just that. It’s a healthy and delicious meal which will nourish your body and provide essential vitamins, nutrients and protein.  It’s also an easy recipe to prepare, yielding elegant, dinner-party results which will be enjoyed by all, whether they are on a diet or not.

Salmon is a top protein choice low in saturated fat, rich in vitamins B and D, minerals and Omega-3 amino acids. Teamed up with kale, a cruciferous superfood packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, you have a dream meal that is a nutritional powerhouse and tastes great, too. The earthy kale leaves pair beautifully with rich and buttery salmon. A squirt of harissa and a few frizzy dill sprigs crown the wraps with vibrant heat, color and spice. Eating for your health doesn’t get any better than this.

Baked Salmon and Kale Wraps with Dill and Harissa

A spoonful of homemade harissa brightens this simple recipe. Sriracha may be substituted for the harissa. Serves 4 as a dinner course or 8 as a light lunch.

16 large kale leaves
Salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bunch dill sprigs with stems
1 lemon, halved
4 center-cut salmon fillets, each about 8 ounces and 1-inch thick, halved
Freshly ground black pepper

Harissa or Sriracha sauce

Remove and discard the tough stems and ribs from the kale, leaving the leaves intact. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale leaves, and blanch to soften, about 15 seconds. Transfer the kale to an ice water bath to cool. Drain and dry thoroughly on a kitchen towel.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom of a baking dish with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Select 8 large dill sprigs without stems and set aside. Scatter the remaining dill sprigs with stems over the bottom of the pan.
Brush salmon filets with olive oil. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the salmon and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place a piece of salmon on a kale leaf. Wrap the leaf around the salmon. If necessary, use another kale leaf to sufficiently cover.  Arrange the the kale-wrapped salmon over the dill in the baking pan, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining salmon filets and kale leaves. Brush the kale leaves with olive oil and squeeze more lemon over the fish. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper. Bake in oven until salmon is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve warm, garnished with a spoonful of harissa.

Kale Gratins

Kale Gratins

~ Kale Gratins ~

It takes a village. I consider myself lucky to be connected to an abundant group of friends whom I’ve met over the past few years through my blog and various food communities. These talented cooks and writers have become colleagues and pals whom I also consider like-minded souls. In this era of the far reaching internet, some of these friendships remain virtual (yet they feel so real) while others have luckily manifested into get-togethers and family dinners.

Which brings me to this lovely little side dish. The inspiration came to me this week from a post by my friend Steve who writes the wonderful blog Oui Chef. I haven’t met Steve in person yet, but I feel like we go a long way back, sharing similar food and travel interests, and a passion to feed our families well while sharing in the pleasure of cooking. He posted this cozy recipe for Creamed Kale that had my attention the minute I read it. Blame it on the rain that day, or just the fact that I adore kale, but I wanted to eat it right then and there. Steve dedicated this recipe to another good friend of ours, Liz, who authors the blog Liz the Chef. A while back Liz posted a phenomenal recipe for Spinach Gratin on Food 52 (which is where these friendships began – thanks Food52!) Liz and I have had the good fortune to meet a number of times, sharing meals at our dining table and connecting at food blog events. Her spinach gratin has been on my mental to-do list since the moment I saw it. And when Steve’s recipe popped up, I had all of the inspiration I needed to make these little Kale Gratins – thanks to my village of food-loving friends.

Kale Gratin

I served these as an accompaniment to steaming bowls of Cioppino Stew this weekend. Makes 6 individual gratins or one large gratin.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese, divided
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 bunches kale (I used a combination of curly and Tuscan), ribs removed, coarsely chopped – about 10 cups

Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat butter in a deep skillet or wide saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, until bubbling and golden, about 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and cream. Simmer, stirring, until thickened. Whisk in 1/4 cup cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove pan from heat and add kale. Stir to completely coat the kale leaves; they will begin to wilt. When the kale is thoroughly coated and slightly wilted, divide between gratin dishes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Transfer to oven and bake until the tops of the gratins are golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

If you like this you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Roasted Yellow Beet and Ricotta Tian
Potato Gratins
Root Vegetable Gratin

Cooking for Your Health: Kale and Quinoa Salad

Cooking for Your Health: Kale and Quinoa Salad

Kale, Quinoa, Carrots, Red Cabbage, Chickpeas, Raisins, Lemon 

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t eat your salad. After all, we adapt our wardrobe for the cold season, and we can do the same with our vegetables. Fresh winter salads, fortified with grains and legumes, heartily provide us with a plateful of immunity-boosting accessories to keep the the doctor away. This kale and quinoa salad is packed with healthy ingredients rich in nutrients, anti-oxidants and protein. Kale is a superfood, rich in vitamins A, C and K, high in fiber and the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids as well as cancer fighting phytonutrients. That’s a lot of nutritional heft for a member of the cabbage family. Teamed up with quinoa, an ancient grain and an amino acid-rich protein, these 2 ingredients form a powerhouse of nutrition, promoting health, clear breathing and anti-inflammation. More importantly, they taste great – especially when seasoned and tumbled with raisins, chick peas and carrots in a cumin-spiced lemon vinaigrette .

Winter Kale and Quinoa Salad with Lemon Cumin Vinaigrette 

The beauty of this salad is that its ingredients may be mixed and matched according to availability and taste. Fresh, raw spinach may be combined with or substituted for the blanched kale. If you don’t have quinoa in the pantry, then try bulgur or wheat berries. Almonds or walnuts are a delicious, nutrient-rich substitution for the chickpeas.

Serves 4-6.

For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:
1 large bunch curly kale – (chou frisée)
2 large carrots, peeled, grated
1/4 small head of red cabbage, shredded
1 cup chick peas
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup golden raisins

Prepare the vinaigrette:
Whisk together all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl. Add oil in a steady stream, constantly whisking to emulsify. Set aside.

Prepare the salad:
Remove the tough veins from the kale leaves. Tear leaves into large pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the kale leaves. Blanch until bright green but not wilted, 10-15 seconds. Drain immediately and refresh under cold water or in a bowl of ice water. Spread in one layer on a kitchen towel and blot dry. Toss kale, carrots and red cabbage together in a large bowl. Add the chickpeas, raisins and half of the quinoa. Toss with half of the vinaigrette. Transfer to a serving platter or divide among serving plates. Sprinkle with additional quinoa. Drizzle with remaining dressing to taste.

This post is the first in a series of monthly posts devoted to Cooking for Your Health. In coordination with my long-time friend, Knirke, who is a Swiss-based pilates instructor, this column will provide a monthly recipe designed to boost health in synchronization with the season and a particular health theme in Knirke’s monthly newsletter. This month, the theme is breathing. Clear and deep breathing is essential to our vitality and health, providing oxygen to our blood and brain. The foods we eat can promote or interfere with our breathing. Interfering food allergens may be wheat, dairy and red meat which produce mucus. To counter this, it’s important to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables throughout the winter. Colorful produce is a rich source of anti-oxidants and vitamins, reducing inflammation, fighting infections and boosting our immune system. And, not only are they healthy for you, they are delicious, too. So, don’t just relegate your winter vegetables to a recuperative diet – enjoy them daily!

Mushroom Barley Soup with Miso and Kale

If you are anticipating a holiday food hangover this season, then take note of this recipe. Mushroom Barley Soup with Miso and Kale is the perfect antidote to excess. Not only does it put to use any left over turkey stock you may have, this healthy, economical soup is loaded with vegetables and high fiber barley. Handfuls of nutrient-rich kale are added to the soup in the end, so there is just enough time to wilt the leaves without overcooking. The extra ingredient to this wholesome soup is a spoonful of red miso paste, which adds depth and that elusive umami quality which keeps you coming back for more. Luckily, this is one meal you can indulge in seconds without feeling guilty.

Mushroom Barley Soup with Miso and Kale

Chicken stock may easily be substituted for turkey stock. Serves 4-6.

Olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Salt
8 ounces sliced assorted mushrooms, such shitake, cremini, cepes
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup barley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
8 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups kale leaves, tough stems removed, leaves shredded
1 tablespoon red miso paste

Heat oil in a medium sized stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt; sauté 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and carrots; sauté 3 minutes. Add barley and thyme and stir to coat. Add stock, bay leaf  and pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until barley is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in kale. Simmer until kale turns bright green and wilts, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the miso. Taste For seasoning. Serve garnished with fresh thyme.

Kale and Carrot Salad with Pecans and Cranberries

Kale and Carrot Salad with Pecans and Cranberries

~ Salad with substance: Kale, Carrots, Shallot, Pecans, Dried Cranberries ~

Fall and winter salads differ from their light and cooling summer cousin. Cold weather salads should be filling and comforting, hardy with fruit and nuts, cheese and dried meat. While served fresh, these salads should give warmth in substance. The base of this bright fall salad is kale. In it’s raw form kale is tough and bitter, best shredded in a slaw or sautéed in olive oil. For this salad I’ve softened the kale  by quickly blanching it just to soften its edges without wilting. The other ingredients fall willingly into formation, adding sweetness, crunch and a vibrancy of color pretty enough to decorate any holiday table.

Winter Kale and Carrot Salad with Pecans and Cranberries
Sliced persimmons would also be a nice addition to this salad.
Serves 4 as a side.

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bunch curly green kale, tough vein removed, torn in large pieces
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pecans, halved
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Make the vinaigrette: Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add kale and blanch just until the color brightens and the leaves still hold their shape, 20 seconds. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water. Spin dry in a salad spinner or blot dry with a kitchen towel. Transfer to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Toss with half of the dressing and taste for seasoning. Serve with additional dressing to taste.

Farro, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup

~ Farro, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup with Parmigiano ~

Autumn in a bowl sums up this nourishing soup. Sweet butternut squash and sturdy kale team up with farro, an ancient Italian wheat grain, known as spelt in English. Farro is a hulled wheat, which means it retains its husk during harvest. The husk serves as a protective cloak, preserving nutrients and protecting the kernel from insects and pollutants, which permits the grower to avoid pesticides. Rich in protein, fiber and B vitamins, farro has a satisfying nutty flavor which adds heft with health to soups and stews. The final touch in this warming soup is a chunk of Parmesan cheese, which is nestled into the simmering stock, breaking down and releasing umami flavor while thickening the soup.

Farro, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup

Either curly green or lacinato kale may be used for the soup. Remove tough ribs from leaves before chopping.

Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup semi-pearled farro
6 cups chicken stock, plus additional stock as necessary
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1 (15-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
1 (2-inch) chunk of rind of Parmesan cheese
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped green kale leaves
Finely grated Parmesan cheese for garnsih

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the farro and stir to coat.
2. Add the chicken stock, squash, tomatoes, cheese chunk, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the squash is tender and farro is cooked, about 30 minutes. (Add more stock to desired consistency if soup is too thick.) Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired.
3. Stir in the kale leaves and simmer until the kale brightens in color and wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Discard Parmesan rind and the bay leaf. Ladle the soup into bowls and pass the cheese for sprinkling over the soup.

Kale Slaw

Kale Slaw

Yep, that’s kale slaw – not cole slaw. The star of this little bowl of goodness is healthy, nutrient-rich kale. Not only is kale considered a “superfood” it’s delicious and versatile to use. Try it raw in salads, braised with garlic and olive oil, blanched in soups, or crisp-roasted in the oven. Whichever method you choose, kale is a keeper. In this version of a slaw, sturdy lacinato kale replaces the usual cabbage. Accompanied by carrot shavings, sweet red pepper and chile, the kale is tossed with a cumin-infused Dijon vinaigrette. This a satisfying side dish which tastes great and looks pretty, too.

Kale Slaw
Makes 4 servings

I like the flavor of lacinato kale, an heirloom kale variety from Tuscany. It’s dark blue-green leaves retain their firmness in this slaw recipe. Feel free to substitute or combine other kinds of kale for a variety of color and texture.

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch lacinato or Tuscan kale, tough ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, membranes removed, cut in 1/2 inch slivers
1-2 red fresno or serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, membranes removed, minced
2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill sprigs
1/4 cup cilantro or Italian parsley leaves

Combine lemon juice, mustard, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil in a steady stream to emulsify. Set aside.
Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle half of the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to thoroughly coat. Add additional vinaigrette to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour and up to 4 hours. Serve with additional dill, cilantro or parsley sprigs as garnish.

Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup with Truffle Oil and Crispy Kale

I am a huge fan of cauliflower soup, yet it’s rare that I find a version that’s just right. Often the soup is grainy or bland, redolent of cauliflower yet missing an extra oomph that keeps me coming back for more. So, in my pursuit of the right stuff, I decided to team up cauliflower with a few of my favorite ingredients. First, I added my new best tuber friend – the celery root. Celery root, or celeriac, is mild with a softy nutty flavor. Combined with cauliflower, it smooths and mellows adding a hint of celery while permitting the cauliflower to shine through. I also added a chunk of Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese. As the soup simmers, the cheese dissolves into the stock, lending depth and an elusive umami flavor that begs for more tasting. The soup is puréed and dressed with a splash of cream, adding richness without overwhelming. The final flourish is  a drizzle of truffle oil which elevates this weeknight staple to a holiday standard. For a garnish, I scatter a few crispy kale leaves over the soup. The salty roasted leaves add lovely contrasting crunch to the creamy soup. You might find yourself ferreting through your bowl in search for more.

Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup with Truffle Oil and Crispy Kale

The crispy kale is an optional addition to this luxurious soup. The kale leaves may be roasted in advance and refrigerated in an air-tight container until use. Be sure to make extra; they are a delicious and healthy snack. Serves 4-6.

For the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium celery root, peeled, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 medium cauliflower, cut in 1 inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock
2 inch chunk  of Parmeggiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Truffle oil

For the crispy kale:
6 (or more) kale leaves, halved, tough stems removed
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the soup:
Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add celery root and cauliflower; sauté 3 minutes without browning. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add chicken stock and cheese. Cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Carefully transfer in batches to a food processor. Purée until smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in cream, salt, pepper and additional chicken stock if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Simmer 5 minutes. Taste to adjust seasoning. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of truffle oil. Garnish with crispy kale leaves.

Prepare the kale:
Toss kale leaves with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 F. oven until crisp without blackening, 25 minutes. Crumble a few leaves in the soup before serving. (Kale leaves may be prepared up to one day in advance.)

Baked Salmon and Kale Wraps with Dill and Harissa

Salmon Kale

Beautiful green Tuscan kale and fresh atlantic salmon from the market along with deliriously happy dill growing in the garden were the inspiration for this recipe. The salmon fillets are wrapped in kale leaves with a little lemon and dill and then baked on a bed of more dill. To top off the salmon, a spoonful of homemade Harissa is added as a garnish. This dish is simple, fresh, delicious and healthy.

Salmon Kale Baked

Baked Salmon and Kale Wraps with Dill and Harissa
Other herbs or a combination may be substituted for dill; try parsley, mint or coriander. Fennel is another good substitute. Makes 8.

8 large kale leaves
Salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bunch dill sprigs with stems
1 lemon
4 thick salmon fillets, halved
Freshly ground black pepper
Harissa (or sriracha)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add kale leaves, and blanch briefly, 15 seconds. Transfer to ice water to cool. Drain and dry thoroughly on a kitchen towel.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat bottom of a baking pan with olive oil. Select 8 large dill sprigs without stems and set aside. Scatter remaining dill sprigs with stems over bottom of pan.
Cut lemon in half. Set one half aside. Remove the skin, pith and pits from the remaining half and cut in 4 slices. Cut each slice in half so there are 8 segments.
Brush salmon filets with olive oil. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Top each filet half with a dill sprig and lemon slice. Place salmon on kale leaf. Wrap leave around salmon and place on dill in baking pan, seam side down. Repeat with remaining salmon and kale. Brush Salmon and Kale wraps with olive oil. Squeeze the reserved lemon half over each wrap. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Bake in preheated 350 oven until salmon is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Garnish salmon with a spoonful of harissa. Serve with rice and additional sauce on the side.

Kale, Bulgur and Carrot Salad

Kale, Bulgur and Carrot Salad

Bulgur Kale Carrot

Lately, kale has been irresistable at the market. I usually like to sauté kale with garlic and olive oil or wilt it in warm soups. But in warm weather, the firm toothsome leaves beckon me when making salads. And what better way to highlight the nutrient-rich kale than in a salad?  A member of the brassica family of vegetables, Kale is high in beta-carotene and fiber and rich in vitamins K, A and C. Not only that, it contains sufloraphane, an anti-cancer chemical which forms when kale and other cruciferous vegetables are chopped, minced or chewed. Combine all that goodness in a scrumptious salad, and we are extremely happy, well-fed campers.

This salad is a riff on tabbouleh, one of my favorite summer salads. Usually I add copious handfuls of mint, parsley and coriander to my tabbouleh, but this time I wanted a milder salad to accompany grilled salmon. I had a bunch of Tuscan kale on hand, so I finely chopped the leaves and added them to the bulgur. The dark sturdy greens rippled throughout the salad. Shredded sweet carrot and flecks of red chile rounded out the flavors and added to the confetti of colors. In place of the usual aromatics, I tossed in a handful of dill sprigs, adding subtle grassy sweetness. The result was a delicious, satisfying and healthy salad. Serve as a simple salad or an accompaniment to grilled meat and fish.


Bulgur Kale

Kale, Bulgur and Carrot Salad
Serves 6-8 as a side dish

2 cups bulgur
2 cups water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
juice from one lemon
juice from one lime
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 cup finely grated carrots
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 serrano chile, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 large Tuscan or curly kale leaves, ribs removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill sprigs (or mint, parsley)

Pour 2 cups boiling water over bulgur in a non-reactive bowl. Let sit, covered, until nearly all the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Add olive oil, lemon and lime juice. Let sit until liquid is absorbed. Mix in cumin, salt, pepper and tabasco. Stir in carrots, onion, chile, garlic and kale. Refrigerate 1-2 hours. Before serving, taste to adjust seasoning. Stir in dill. Serve.