This is a super tasty warm salad our niece Haley made for us last night out at WestWard. TPS made meatloaf with mashed potatoes–quite possibly the most comforting, homey duo ever. Her leek & kale salad a lovely balance. She walked me through it after supper, as I was taking a quick nap when she whipped it up. Ohhhhh, I do love Sundays…
Start with the kale, cutting away all the spines on the stems, leaving you with just those glorious leafy greens. Chop them up. Haley likes to put them in a big bowl and massages in salt, which helps to start break down a bit of the roughness kale can have. It just sits soaking up the salt while you get everything else ready.
In a good sized skillet, heat up extra virgin olive oil and add your cut up leeks. Sauté until soft and a bit browned. Then add another glug of olive oil and add the salted kale. Cook for just a few minutes to wilt the kale. Then turn off heat. Add the juice of half of a lemon and the zest of the entire lemon to the leek and kale mixture. The lemon will mix about with the olive oil creating just the lightest vinaigrette. Add a few cracks of pepper and a handful of Parmesan and the warm salad is ready to be served.
With a nod to Summer officially beginning this evening, I thought I would share a super simple Summmaaa pasta dish with you. Easy to whip up with all the variety of great veg out now or coming our way in the next few months. Whatever vegetables you decide to put into this is up to you. Use what you like, and use what looks freshest at the moment.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, my magical number when cooking, so the oven is nice and hot for when you are finished cutting up the vegetables. Cut up an entire head of cauliflower, making sure the pieces are quite small. The idea is all the pieces of everything you add to this is close to bite sized. Put the cauliflower pieces onto a sheet pan, drizzle all with extra virgin olive oil, then salt & pepper liberally. Then cut up a large bunch of asparagus, spreading out on its own sheet pan and getting the same oil treatment. You want each veg on its own pan as things cook differently, so that way you can pull them out individually when done. Put both in the hot oven and cook until things get nice and golden. Stir along the way. Once done, add all to a large pasta bowl.
Now get the pasta water ready to boil. When boiling add a few ears of corn, take out when done. Cut the corn off the husks when cool enough to handle and add to the bowl. Salt the corn. Sorry, I forgot to add the corn to the above bowl before I snapped the picture. Bring the water back up to a boil and add the pasta and cook to desired doneness from the instructions on the box. I am a fan of Cavatappi pasta, but truly, use whatever shape pasta you like best. Salt the water liberally and add a few splashes of olive oil. While the pasta is cooking away in the hot water bath, shell sugar snap peas and add them to the pasta bowl with the other veg. I love using raw for this as the heat of the pasta will cook them ever so slightly when tossed in, but they will have the slightest crunch which I really quite like. Then grate a good amount of fresh Parmesan cheese and add to the bowl. Stand back and admire just how pretty that all is…
When the pasta is done, take a measuring cup and fill it with the corn/pasta water. Set aside and then drain the pasta well. Add the hot pasta to the beautiful awaiting bowl. Mix in as much of the pasta as you think works well with the amount of veg you have. FYI, you might not use all of the pasta, and that is ok. Then add a bit of the pasta water to the lot. Mix around again. Salt and pepper all. Have a taste. You might want to add more cheese. You might want to add a little more of the pasta water. You might want to add a little more salt and pepper. Or not. It might just be perfect. You decide. Now enjoy it just as it is. Or serve it alongside a piece of chicken or fish. Or crumble chicken, Italian sausage or salmon into the pasta for a truly one bowl meal. As said above, this can all be changed up by what vegetables look best this Summer. Roasting them in the oven caramelizes them a bit and really brings out the flavor which adds so much to this pasta dish. Enjoy!
And a happy start to Summmmmaaaaaa!!!
This is such a simple dressing, a lemon vinaigrette, with the mustard emulsifying making it creamy and the addition of freshly grated Parmesan cheese to really pump up the flavor quotient.
Squeeze the juice of a good sized lemon into a bowl. We had 2 small lemons that I thought were close to equaling a large one. No pits please. Then a spoonful of mustard. I am not giving exact measurements as I want you to see how easy this is and you can make it more lemon-y or mustard-y by adding more or less. Then add a few good pinches of salt & pepper. Eyeball and add twice as much extra virgin olive oil as what is in the bowl. A 2 to 1 ratio of oil to acid is great here. Now with a fork, whisk it all together. The mustard will magically make it all mix together making a pretty darn yummy dressing. Now add the freshly grated Parm to the mixture. It adds a textured creaminess that takes it all to a different level. It becomes a thicker, richer vinaigrette, perfect served as is over your desired greens. Enjoy!