If asked to describe this winter, I wouldn’t talk about the snowfalls, the ice, or even the below- normal temperatures we’ve had in New England. What comes to my mind first is the incredible number of friends, family, and fellow workers who have come down with flus, stomach bugs, and debilitating colds. One week alone in my kitchen, two assistants arrived with colds and spent more time coughing and taking drops than cooking. I finally told them to go home and rest!
So, this past week when my March Better Homes and Gardens arrived, an article on six super foods- rich in vitamin, proteins, antioxidants– immediately got my attention. The nutritious six included blueberries, kiwis, kale, sweet potatoes, edamame, and goij berries. All but the latter–the goji berries–were familiar to me. Turns out these berries come from a medicinal plant that’s easy to grow, and taste especially good when dried and used like raisins.
It didn’t take me long to check my own files (my blog posts, cookbooks, magazine articles) in search of recipes featuring these ingredients. To counter the season’s ills I found two delectable dishes I hadn’t prepared for several years. One was for a kale salad tossed with a simple yet perfectly balanced dressing made with lemon juice, maple syrup and olive oil. (The recipe came to me via a farmer at my local farmers market.) The other was for Roasted Sweet Potato Hash Browns from my book, Sunday Brunch.
Here’s hoping this duo will become part of your repertoire and that they will help keep winter’s colds, flus, and stomach bugs at bay.
Farmers’ Market Kale Salad with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins
Several years ago, one of my favorite farmers at the outdoor market in my small New England town, saw me puzzling over her display of kale. To encourage me to put a bunch in my basket, she shared her recipe for a simple kale salad. I loved this creation from my first bite. The kale’s mild, cabbage-like flavor and somewhat crisp texture is complemented by the dressing which has tart, sweet, and slightly hot accents provided respectively by lemon, maple syrup, and red pepper flakes. Pine nuts provide more crunch and raisins an additional sweet note.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Scant 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 ounces kale (See note.)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (See note.)
1.Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, syrup, mustard, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper in a nonreactive bowl. (The dressing yields 1/4 cup and can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using.)
2. Remove and discard the tough stems and center veins from the kale leaves. Then cut the leaves crosswise into 1/2 inch wide strips to yield 6 cups well packed kale.
3. Place the dressing in a salad bowl and whisk well. Add the kale and toss to coat greens thoroughly with dressing. Divide salad evenly and mound on 4 salad plates. Garnish each serving with raisins and pine nuts. Serves 4
Note: Kale is available in many colors and varieties. For this salad, use the dark green variety with creamy white stems or the dark green with purple-tinged leaves and stems. Keep refrigerated in the coldest area of your refrigerator for no more than 2 to 3 days before using. Kale contains Vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium, and iron.
Note: To toast pine nuts, place in a medium, heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir until nuts are lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes or less. Watch carefully as they burn easily. Remove and cool to room temperature.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom
Roasted Sweet Potato Hash Browns
Here’s a modern take on hash browns in which the potatoes are roasted first, which intensifies their sweetness, then browned in a hot frying pan, and finally combined with bacon, red onions, rosemary and garlic. The three primary ingredients—sweet potatoes, red onions, and bacon—are each easily distinguishable yet complementary to one another.
1 1/2 pounds (5 cups) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch/12-mm dice
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
Coarsely ground pepper
5 thick bacon slices (5-1/2 oz), cut in 1-1/2 inch/4 cm pieces
2 cups thinly sliced red onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary plus a sprig or two for garnish
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano, optional
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed, baking sheet/tray with foil and set aside.
2. Spread the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet/tray. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle the dried rosemary over them. Season with salt and pepper, and then toss to coat evenly.
3. Roast until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes, stirring after ten minutes. Remove from the oven when done. (Potatoes can be prepared 2 hours ahead; leave loosely covered with foil at room temperature.)
4. Cook the bacon in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-low heat until crisp. Drain the cooked bacon on paper towels. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the frying pan, but reserve the remaining drippings. Place the frying pan on medium to medium-low heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
5. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon drippings back to the hot frying pan. Add the sweet potatoes and quickly sauté until crisp and nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the onions and garlic and the bacon pieces to the frying pan and stir 1 minute more. Season the potatoes with fresh rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. For a slightly richer taste toss the mixture with the Parmesan. Serve warm. Serves 4 to 6
Note: Sweet potatoes are good sources of Vitamin A, potassium, and fiber.
From Sunday Brunch (Chronicle Books 2012) by Betty Rosbottom