Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash & Parmesan

Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash & Parmesan  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash & Parmesan | Image: Laura Messersmith

The particular ingredients of this salad are inspired by one we had at The Walrus and the Carpenter on our trip to Seattle last fall when Mike and I found ourselves duking it out over the last bites at dinner. I truly never thought I’d see the day when we would have to evenly divide up a salad to ensure equal opportunity – chocolate cake, maybe; leafy greens, no. I took some notes of the ingredients in my phone thinking I’d try to make it for us after we returned to New York.

Alas, after the great iphone meltdown of 2015 with all notepads lost I had to rely on my memory and my own personal preferences to recreate at least the spirit of that dish. Something lemony, something hearty, a little cheese, toasted nuts for crunch and here we are. A salad that inspires second helpings and can be made in advance. Even assembled this salad can stay in the refrigerator for a day or two.

To be honest, I was never a huge fan of kale in salads until I had a marinated kale salad. Game changer. With arugula or spinach, limiting the time the delicate leaves are in contact with the dressing is essential to prevent wilting. Marinating kale in an acidic dressing takes what is normally a drawback of traditional salads and turns it into a virtue – using the dressing to break down the fibrous leaves, infusing them with flavor, and leaving them perfectly tender, but still crisp.

Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash & Parmesan   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash & Parmesan | Image: Laura Messersmith

Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash and Parmesan (serves 4)

Ingredients:
3 cups (1 bunch) lacinato kale ribbons (aka black or Tuscan kale)
1 medium delicata squash
2 ounces parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pistachios
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas)
1/4 cup (2-3 lemons) lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:
Wash and dry the kale leaves before removing the tough central rib by running a chef’s knife along either side. Cut the kale leaves into ribbons by stacking 3-4 leaves and rolling vertically, end to end, into a cigar shape. Cut horizontally across the roll to create long strips.

Once all of the kale is prepared, whisk together the freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper for the marinade/dressing. Toss the kale ribbons with the dressing in a medium mixing bowl and set aside at room temperature for 2-3 hours or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, stir occasionally.

To prepare the squash, wash the exterior and cut a thin slice from the top and bottom to remove the stem. Slice the remaining squash horizontally into 1/3” wide rounds (no need to peel!) Scoop out the seeds and pulp from each ring with a spoon and place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees F for 25-30 minutes turning every 7-10 minutes to ensure even caramelization.

While the squash is roasting, grate the Parmesan cheese, and toast the pistachios in a dry pan over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes. Watch the pistachios carefully and stir occasionally to prevent them from burning.

Layer the marinated kale, roasted squash, toasted pistachios, pepitas, and parmesan. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Inspired by The Walrus and the Carpenter and adapted from the Marinated Kale Salad in A Boat, a Whale, and a Walrus: Menus and Stories by Renee Erickson and Jess Thomson.

Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash & Parmesan   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash & Parmesan | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Absolutely. I used a medium mixing bowl, chef’s knife, medium cutting board, and liquid measuring cup. I also needed a rimmed baking sheet, tongs, box grater, and small sauté pan in addition to a regular spoon, measuring cups and spoons. Aluminum foil will help with clean up.

The Verdict:
I took a batch of this kale salad along with us on a weekend trip when I didn’t know what the kitchen situation would be and wanted to have a few items prepped for on the fly meals. Mike and I had this for a lighter soup & salad lunch and it was perfect. Simultaneously hearty and light, great flavor, and came straight from the refrigerator onto our plates ready to go. The brightness of the lemon and salty parmesan balances nicely against the richer squash, pistachios and pepitas with the now-tender kale providing a crunchy backdrop. This is a great fall salad for entertaining or lazy weekends at home.

Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash & Parmesan   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash & Parmesan | Image: Laura Messersmith


The Goldmine, A Breakfast Sandwich

The Goldmine Breakfast Sandwich  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

The Goldmine Breakfast Sandwich | Image: Laura Messersmith

A few weeks ago Mike and I took the train north to Boston to celebrate his fifth business school reunion with a group of our dearest friends. It had been a few years since we were last there with time to wander and revisit some of our favorite places. Number One on Mike’s list: a trip to Mike & Patty’s.

He and several friends had breakfast there in the final days of their last semester and the memory of that tiny shop and delicious sandwiches lived on in legend ever since. I missed that inaugural meal and to be honest, I’ve always been a bit skeptical. The guys might be exaggerating, after all. How good could it really be?

Mike & Patty’s is in Bay Village, a pocket of Boston that manages to be in the middle of Back Bay, the South End, and Chinatown, but still feel like it’s off the beaten path. Cobblestone streets, old-fashioned lanterns, and the hope of discovering amazing food at the end of your journey just heighten the sense of a hidden gem. After one bite of my chosen sandwich - The Goldmine - I was convinced the early morning trek was well worth it.

On the surface The Goldmine is just a bacon, egg, and cheese made fancy, but dip below that run of the mill designation and it becomes clear that this sandwich is so much more. First of all, I assumed that the honey – a strange, but genius addition – was the gold in this mine, but actually it’s the fried egg (or egg over easy as you prefer) whose yolk permeates all the corners of this delicious sandwich.

The Goldmine inspires tales of food treasures, hunched-over eating, and plate mopping. Simple pleasures and well worth your efforts to make at home.

The Goldmine Breakfast Sandwich   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

The Goldmine Breakfast Sandwich | Image: Laura Messersmith

The Goldmine (serves: 4)

Ingredients:
4 large eggs
2/3 cup whole milk ricotta, bought or homemade
2 ounces (4 slices) prosciutto
4 tablespoons golden honey
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 loaf challah, brioche, or sourdough bread

Instructions:
Pre-heat the large sauté pan over medium heat and crisp the slices of prosciutto, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the medium sauté pan over medium-low heat spread a thin layer of butter over each slice of bread. Toast the bread in the medium pan until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side, in batches.

Remove the crisped prosciutto from the larger pan and set aside. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter to the warm pan and melt. Once the bread is toasted, spread half of the pieces with 1-2 tablespoons of the whole milk ricotta on one side. Add a slice of crisped prosciutto, and drizzle with 2-3 teaspoons of honey. Reserve the sandwich tops until the eggs are cooked.

Crack the eggs one at a time into a small liquid measuring cup or bowl taking care not to break the yolk. Gently pour each egg into the large sauté pan allowing the white to just begin setting before adding the next egg. Once all the eggs are in the pan, cover with a lid (preferably glass, so you can monitor the situation) and cook over medium heat for another 2-3 minutes watching for an opaque white, but a soft, runny yolk.

Top each sandwich with a fried egg, sprinkle with kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste. Add the second piece of bread and serve immediately!

Need more advice on frying an egg? The Kitchn and Food Network have step by step instructions to get just the cook you're looking for.

Adapted from Mike and Patty’s The Goldmine breakfast sandwich.

The Goldmine Breakfast Sandwich   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

The Goldmine Breakfast Sandwich | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, indeed! I used one large non-stick sauté pan with a cover, one medium non-stick sauté pan, a medium cutting board, bread knife, a liquid measuring cup, rubber spatula, dinner fork, butter knife, and teaspoon. That’s all!

The Verdict:
I’m obsessed with The Goldmine. Each component is relatively mild on it’s own, but together they balance each other beautifully. Creamy ricotta, crispy prosciutto, sweet sticky honey all tucked under a blanket of egg-y goodness. Sigh. It's also a great choose-your-own-adventure dish. Like lots of prosciutto? Add an extra slice. Want it a little gooier? Let the honey drizzle a little longer over the ricotta. My last piece of advice: please make this on a lazy weekend morning when a second cup of coffee and a nap are all that’s on the docket. You’ll thank me.

The Goldmine Breakfast Sandwich   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

The Goldmine Breakfast Sandwich | Image: Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps | Image: Laura Messersmith

It’s suuuummmeeeeerrrr! (Did you hear that in an Oprah voice? Yeah, that’s how it sounded in my head too.) I know it's definitely summer - no backsliding into chilly spring this time - because the berries are out of hand ripe, we hit 90 degrees in New York last week, and my neighborhood ice cream shops are jumping with families out for a post-dinner treat. All the more reason to turn on the oven right? Umm, no. Unless you’re making something with all those delicious berries, like these crisps. Then definitely proceed!

I know I’ve been focusing on pie this year, but that doesn’t mean I’ve changed my tune on crisps and crumbles. All the delicious summer fruit and a la mode possibilities with 85% less effort, and as I discovered when I made blueberry pie the other week things come together a whole heck of a lot faster when there’s no peeling (still love you apples & pears!) and minimal chopping. Meaning: these crisps from Fine Cooking Magazine featuring the classic strawberry-rhubarb combination can be in the oven with only about 25-30 minutes of effort. Meaning: a homemade dessert can be yours tonight! Are you sold yet?

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps | Image: Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps (yield: 6 crisps)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions:
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, combine the flour with 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the oats, chopped pecans, and salt. Add the diced butter and rub into the dry ingredients between your fingers until the mixture has mostly pea-size pieces (don’t worry if it’s not uniform). Set aside, in the refrigerator if it’s a warm day.

In a large bowl, toss the sliced strawberries, diced rhubarb, cornstarch, and the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar. Divide the mixture among six 6-oz. ramekins and top with the oat mixture. It’s easiest to hold the ramekins over the bowl as you spoon in the fruit and topping. The ramekins will be very full but the filling will cook down.

Transfer the ramekins to a large foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown and bubbling around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, preferably with vanilla ice cream or a bit of whipped cream.

Slightly re-written from Fine Cooking magazine’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a small bowl, large mixing bowl, medium cutting board, chef’s knife, and large spoon. I also needed measuring cups and spoons, 6 ramekins (if yours are 7 ounces like mine, then add a little more fruit to the mix), a baking sheet, and aluminum foil. Resist the urge to skip the baking sheet & foil – they will save you a ton of clean up time since these crisps are 99% guaranteed to bubble over.

The Verdict:
Rhubarb captured my attention about a year ago and now if I see it on a menu I have to order it. I’ve been waiting semi-patiently for it to arrive in the produce section since about March so that I could cook with it myself. These crisps made the wait well worth it – sweet, tart, just a hint of nutty crunch – delectable with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Please make them before rhubarb disappears for the season!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Crisps | Image: Laura Messersmith

Hali'imaile General Store Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

The first time I ever tasted this soup was on a vacation Mike and I took with his family to Maui. We spent the first handful of days together in Lahaina before breaking off to explore the other side of the island on our own. First stop: one of the last pineapple plantations on the island for a tour where we stuffed ourselves with fresh from the field Maui Gold pineapple.

Can I just pause for a moment to relive the gloriousness of a wedge of pineapple still warm from the sun cut from the stalk just moments before and sliced with a wickedly sharp machete by our fearless guide right before our eyes? Even though we had enough fresh fruit to make our tongues go a little numb lunch was still in order (what can I say, we were on a vacation “diet”) and we were fortunate to be within a stone’s throw of the Hali’imaile General Store; a somewhat confusingly named, but absolutely lovely café.

After the memorable morning we spent in the pineapple fields you can probably forgive me for not remembering all of lunch very clearly, but this soup on the other hand still lives in my dreams. Thanks to some Internet research I was able to recreate it in my own kitchen and return to that amazing day in the hills of Maui.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Hali'imaile General Store Roasted Red Pepper Soup (serves: 4)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (3 cloves) minced garlic
1 cup (1 medium) chopped onion
3/4 cup (3 medium) shallots
6 fire roasted red bell peppers
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
4-6 tablespoons Chobani 4% plain greek yogurt
Challah croutons (recipe below)

Instructions:
Roast the bell peppers by placing them directly on the burner over a gas flame or under a preheated broiler, rotating every 2-3 minutes until the skins blister and are completely charred. The more blackened and crispy the skin, the easier it will be to remove. Place the roasted peppers in a brown paper bag and fold over the top to allow the peppers to steam for 5 minutes.

As soon as the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the tough exterior skin. Rinse briefly under cold water and drain on paper towels. Remove the stems, seeds, and ribs before slicing each pepper into long strips, approximately 1/2 inch wide.

 In a large dutch oven, melt the oil and butter together over medium heat. Add the onion and shallots, and sauté for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the minced garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more before adding the strips of red pepper.

Cook for 6-8 minutes until softened.

Add the chicken stock, kosher salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil before decreasing to medium-low heat. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes until the peppers begin to fall apart.

Allow the soup to cool slightly, then ladle into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat. Serve warm, or chill for 2-3 hours and serve cold with a dollop of whole milk greek yogurt and crunchy croutons.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Homemade Challah Croutons (yield: 4-5 cups croutons)

Ingredients:
1 loaf challah bread (or brioche)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Slice the bread about 3/4-inch thick. If you prefer, cut off the crusts, otherwise cut the slices in 3/4-inch dice. You should have 6 to 8 cups of croutons.

Place the croutons on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing once about half-way through the baking time, until they're golden brown on all sides. Cool to room temperature.

Rewritten and slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Brioche Croutons.

Challah Croutons 1 smaller.jpg

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used my trusty 5.5 qt French oven, a high-powered blender, a large cutting board, and chef’s knife. I also used a liquid measuring cup, measuring spoons, a ladle, rubber spatula and tongs. A large paper grocery bag, or in a pinch several brown lunch bags, and paper towels will be super helpful.

If you’re also making the croutons, then add a baking sheet, wooden spatula, and serrated knife to your kit.

The Verdict:
This is an amazing summer recipe – truly the perfect marriage of deep pepper flavor with the creaminess of a pureed bisque, and while roasting the peppers yourself does take a little doing, the mixture of bright freshness tinged with smoke is so worth it. Serve this soup cold with a spoonful of plain greek yogurt and a tumble of crunchy homemade challah croutons for a meal (or appetizer) that’s refreshing and just the littlest bit spicy. 

Roasted Red Pepper Soup