This time of year at both the grocery store & farmers market, kale is king. The leafy green is not only amazing to eat but can be so pretty to look at. Before you cook with it or chop it up, give it a chance to aesthetically shine by enjoying it on your dining table in a vase or planter.
This salad is corn-centric, as the corn in the Hudson Valley at the moment is pretty off the charts tasty. If you can get your hands on some fresh corn, give this a try. The cornbread croutons bumps up the flavor of the season even more. The fresh made Caesar dressing pulls it all together. Here we go!
Boil a pot of water and cook 2 to 3 ears of corn. Once done, pull out and set aside to cool. Then cut the kernels off the cob over a bowl. Let sit until ready to assemble. Turn oven to 400, I know, very surprising. Let it heat up. You can certainly make cornbread or muffins, but I found some stellar ones at the grocery store so those were used. Carefully cut them into good sized cubes. Put on a baking sheet, sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil and a good amount of pepper. Put in the oven for 10 minutes, then take out and turn them, then bake in the oven for another 10. Once done, take out to cool.
Now on to the dressing. A food processor or blender is best for this. Roughly chop 2 cloves of garlic, add to the mixer. Then a heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Juice 2 good sized lemons and add that juice. Chop up 2 anchovies and add to the mix along with the yolk of a room temp egg and liberal pinches of salt & pepper. Almost there. Pulse it all. Now, with the machine running slowly pour in a half of a cup of the best extra virgin olive oil you can get your hands on. Lastly add a third to half of a cup of finely grated Pecorino Romano and pulse one last time. You have now made one very tasty Caesar dressing!
Tear up as much kale as you would like in a big bowl, being careful not to add any of the tough spine of the kale. Sprinkle in the corn, a little more grated Pecorino, then spoon over the dressing, adding as much or as little as you like. Top with the cornbread croutons. Serve. I like to offer more dressing in a small bowl that guests can add if they like their salad super dressed. It is a taste of Summer in a salad. Enjoy, enjoy. Mister Sive grilled barbecued chicken that worked great with this salad. Truly, just about any main dish like steak or fish would be yummy with this too.
The flower love continues with more, more, more of the sumptuous blooms that filled the year. Whether massed together in a big bunch or solo running down a table, they bring so much added life to our life.
The flowering or ornamental kale was the winner in my book yesterday on my early Saturday morning walk-about the Market. You so often see these mixed in with other flowers to somewhat be a filler. But bunched together just as they are in big bundle is what struck my fancy. Of course, the green grabbed me right away, but mixed with the creamy white just took it over the top. The blooms almost looking rose like.
Guests were arriving shortly for dinner and the hydrangea I had plucked from the front of the house were looking worn and just not doing it for me. As this is the country, a quick spin to the market or grocery store was just not in the cards. The big hearty bunch of kale we bought days earlier to eat would be the ticket and come to the rescue. Kale can be such a beautiful thing. In it went into a vintage green McCoy vessel clipped nice and low. It had been in a short clear drinking glass, so I just inserted that into the vase, so the stalks did not move around. Done. The kale pulled together all the other green on the table and has remained there most of the week–the heartiness keeping the look nice and fresh. It will become salad for dinner this eve. Now that is versatility out of a single lush & leafy bunch of kale.
Often times the greens can be so gorgeous that they warrant their own little glass or vase at the table. Here broccoli greens become part of the table tableau long after the florets have been enjoyed. Below, the kale dancing about in place of flowers on the dining table. It was enjoyed visually for a few days and then cut up and used in a salad later.
Soup on these chilly, rainy days/evenings can be such a comforting thing. If the soup is nice and hearty, even better. Our friends’ 10 year old daughter Clementine, who is like a niece to us, came up with a hearty soup I was dying to try. Sunday supper was this crazy good soup using 5 ingredients cooked up in one pot.
Cook 1 lb. sweet Italian ground sausage. Remove from the pot. Sauté 2 leeks that you have cut up into small pieces in the pot. Add back in sausage. Add chicken stock (2 boxes) plus 1 lb. of bite sized white sweet potatoes. Bring all to a boil, then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Then add a bundle of chopped kale at the end. Done. Serve with crusty baguette. This will be now known in our house as Clementine soup.
This abundant produce time of year, think of using it in place of flowers. A big bunch of kale looks swell in the center of a table. Asparagus standing up to be enjoyed visually before cooked for a meal. A handful of parsley in a simple clear glass that you can pull from as you cook but just looks great all along the way. Bunches or pots of basil a nod to the sunny season.
Buying beautiful produce and flowers should be enjoyed every moment after you get it home. Or in this case, work. I shot this the week-end before last at the Market shop moments after I put things in vases to be enjoyed by all as soon as I opened the shop at 10. My point with all of this is when we are buying flowers and produce we are spending a bit of change on it, so we want to get as much enjoyment out of it as we can. Creating a little still-life of sorts while we unpack our other groceries or do a few chores lengthens the time we get to enjoy all this pretty stuff. I find kale to be such a hearty green that it can easily sit out for part of the day before it is refrigerated. The sweet peas and peonies looking so sweet snuggled up to one another. The kale visually pulling out all of the green from the other two. A happy trio to be enjoyed by all until lunch came around and the kale was called into action.
Our grocery store in town has been selling these huge boxes of amazing kale for close to nothing. It is a bit of a task to eat it all it is so plentiful. That is when roasting a big pan of kale for kale chips is called into action. Really the simplest damn thing to do, and the result really brings out the sweetness of the kale. I like to serve these on top of mashed potatoes or alongside a piece of fish. Eating it right out of the bowl for a snack works too. Have oven heated to 400 degrees. Pile up a roasting pan with as much kale as it will hold. Liberally sprinkle extra virgin olive oil and sea salt over all. Where would I be without EVOO and sea salt? Put pan into the oven. Check every 5 minutes, moving all around with a spoon each time. You will be amazed at how much it all cooks down. 20 minutes generally, but stay with it as they can get overdone incredibly quickly. Less if you want it more green and steamed, a tad more if you want them crispier. Taste along the way to check for desired doneness. When done to your liking, take out and get kale off the pan asap to stop the cooking. So simple. Incredibly tasty.