Chopped Kale Salad with Bacon, Dates & Pecans

Chopped Kale Salad with Bacon, Dates & Kale

Two co-workers were talking about the best kale salad ever at this fancy restaurant downtown — Oak. They both noted that it was most memorable part of their meal. The salad. Can you believe that?!

That conversation got my mind going, and somehow I invented a story in my head about that salad. In my mind, it had pecans, dates, and even bacon. It wasn’t just kale, there were other greens to lighten it up. And the dressing was tangy and sweet but not overpowering. I thought about that salad so much that I went ahead and made it (because why not?).

Chopped Kale Salad with Bacon, Dates & Kale
Chopped Kale Salad with Bacon, Dates & Kale

It wasn’t until I went to write this post that I remembered the original inspiration (Oak’s famous salad), and figured I should probably look up what their kale salad actually contains. Boy was I off the mark!

Shaved Apple & Kale Salad. Grana Padano, togarashi, candied almonds.

Say what??! Kale, apples, cheese, candied nuts, you have me on the edge of my seat! But then, Togarashi?!

I guess I have to just go try the original. Until then, I’m going to pretend my own kale salad is just as famous.

Chopped Kale Salad with Bacon, Dates & Kale

Chopped Kale Salad with Bacon, Dates & Pecans

Published October 4, 2018 by
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Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 20 minutes



Ingredients:


For the Salad:
  • 4 kale leaves, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup romaine, shredded
  • 1 cup radicchio, shredded
  • 6 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, cooled and chopped in bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Directions:

    1. Place kale in a salad bowl. Drizzle lightly with oil and a sprinkle of salt. Using your hands, “massage” the kale, rubbing the leaves with your hands until they are bright green and tender. This will make them easier to eat.
    2. Add shredded romaine and radicchio to the bowl, and toss to combine. Add bacon, dates, and pecans.
    3. Combine first four ingredients for vinaigrette in a small jar and shake to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over salad to your tastes and toss. Serve.

    Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

    Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

    Boise is surrounded by golden hills, many of them charred by grass fires. But don’t be deceived: just and hour north, you’ll be among the trees, an hour further and the grass turns green, and just thirty minutes more, you’ll come around the bend into McCall and spot Payette lake, backdropped by Brundage Mountain. This is where we spent the end of August— in a cabin with family. 

    We visited just two weeks after the annual huckleberry festival, but there were plenty of wild blackberries at the farmers market still, something you don’t see much of in the front range of Colorado! So of course, I had to take that inspiration and run with it— creating a massive list of things to make (yes, I do seem to have a thing for lists). And perhaps I’ll plant some berries in my yard next spring... blackberries, blueberries, and gooseberries too. 

    Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash
    Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

    Between blackberries, we hit the trails, exploring the Payette Lake peninsula and Bear Basin on mountain bikes. On the hottest day, we rented a paddle board and kayak— the river north of town is breathtaking. 

    McCall is truly a gem of a mountain town! Outdoor enthusiasts— put this on your list. You get the strangest feeling riding your bike through the woods, like you’ve been transported to the Red Wood Forest, minus the heat! I'll be sharing a few pictures in my monthly newsletter in just a few days -- sign up here

    Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

    Published September 6, 2018 by
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    Serves: 6-8   |    Active Time: 40 minutes



    Ingredients:

    Baked Ricotta:
  • 2 cups of full fat ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons Parmesan (divided in 2 parts)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A few cracks pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Blackberry-Thyme Smash:
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries, divided
  • 3 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • For serving: crackers, crostinis, and/or crudités of choice

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 50-ounce capacity (about 3 cups) ramekin, baking dish, or cheese baker with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
    2. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, lemon zest, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
    3. Using a spatula, transfer the cheese mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan. (Note: Do not over fill your baking dish. Make the cheese level or below the top rim of the baking dish (if needed, divide the cheese between two baking dishes. This will prevent overflow and a mess in your oven!).
    4. Place in oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Parmesan on top should begin to turn golden.
    5. While the cheese is cooking, make the Blackberry-Thyme Smash: place 1 cup black berries, leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme, juice of 1/2 lemon, pinch of salt, and honey in a bowl and mash with a fork until a saucy, jammy mixture is created. Add in remaining 1/2 cup whole berries (for texture).
    6. Spoon Blackberry Smash mixture over baked cheese, and top with a sprig of thyme as garnish. Serve while cheese is still warm with crackers, crostinis, or crudités.

    Chickpea Antipasto Salad

    Chickpea Antipasto Salad

    In the kitchen, there is the sound of a ticking clock. From the open sliding door on my right, the leaves rustling in the breeze. The high today is seventy-one degrees. The last time I could say that was probably early April, and it feels like a treat. 

    We had no idea what to expect when we arrived in McCall. Boise is surrounded by golden dry hills, the city itself an sprawl of big box department stores. But the further north you go the more trees you find, and the grasses begin to turn green. As you coast down the road into McCall's center you spot Lake Payette, like a gem in the rough. 

    Here, I'm going to be soaking up the cooler weather -- currently drinking orange cinnamon tea - but back home, I'm still defaulting to no-cook, no-bake, minimal effort meals, like this Chickpea Antipasto Salad. 

    This dish is a bit like pasta salad, minus the pasta, and all you do is mix. That's right: skip the oven, skip the stove, and even skip dishes -- it's a one-bowl wonder. 

    Now, back to my seventy degree weather! I've got a vacation to enjoy! 

    Chickpea Antipasto Salad
    Chickpea Antipasto Salad

    Chickpea Antipasto Salad

    Published August 23, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4-6   |    Active Time: 10 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 sixteen-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, quartered and drained
  • 1/2 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives, pitted and drained
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup feta crumbles
  • Optional: serve over a bed of butterhead lettuce

  • Directions:

    1. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir to combine.
    2. Serve immediately, or make a day ahead of time, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
    3. Optionally, serve over a bed of butterhead lettuce leaves.