Tag Archives: kale

Cheesy Portobello, Quinoa, and Kale Bowl

Standard

IMG_5797

Has it been too long since my last recipe for an actual meal? Yes. Is the title of this post too long? Absolutely. One of my goals for this long weekend was to post a recipe on here. With 3 days off, I knew I didn’t have an excuse not to.

I’ve been really into salads and grain bowls recently. I’ve been trying to incorporate more salads into my diet and have been hoarding kale lately (does anyone else wish it took up less space in your fridge?) If I’m looking for something heartier I’ll add some grains to the mix – either brown rice, quinoa, or couscous. For a long time I didn’t really like quinoa and thought it tasted like bird seed but finally my taste buds have evolved and it’s become part of my weekly menu.

Sticking to a healthy and basic diet can definitely become bland after a while. I’ve found that I can eat well for a couple weeks and then I start to feel like I’m depriving myself and fall back into eating whatever. After a few years of blogging, browsing other food blogs, and some recent trips to local vegan/vegetarian/organic restaurants, I feel like I’m finally discovering what food I really enjoy and what makes me feel good – and most importantly, what I can maintain in my diet and not get sick of.

This particular recipe was inspired by Portobella Protein Bowl on BeLeaf in Choice. The owner of the blog, Krysta, is a fellow healthy living blogger and also a classmate from high school. I often include mushrooms into my recipes but have never made them the main ingredient. I changed up the original recipe a bit, using sautéed kale instead of spinach and forgoing the other veggies. I also added some cheese for extra flavor and protein.

This bowl is simple, quick, and satisfying. It was so tasy I didn’t find myself missing the meat at all like I sometimes do with vegetarian meals. I hope you like it!

Cheesy Portobello, Quinoa, and Kale Bowl
adapted from Portobella Protein Bowl on BeLeaf in Choice

IMG_5795Ingredients:
Makes 2 bowls

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed*
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie stock (water will do, too)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced into 1-cm strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided in half
  • A few sprigs of rinsed kale, chopped or torn into small pieces (about 3 cups chopped)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Optional: diced avocado, Sriracha

*Rinsing the quinoa isn’t imperative, but I find that cooking quinoa straight from the bag leaves it with an earthy flavor I’m not fond of

IMG_5779

Your ingredients

Directions:

  1. Bring your stock or water to a boil and add quinoa. Cook according to box directions (it will take about 20 mins).
  2. While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add sliced mushrooms. Drizzle a little more oil on top. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they become tender and caramelized. Add half of minced garlic and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from pan.
  3. Add chopped kale to pan that was used for mushrooms, along with remaining garlic, and cover. Cook over low heat and let leftover mushroom juices help steam the kale. Stir occasionally. The kale should be tender after about 5 minutes.
  4. When quinoa is done cooking, stir in parmesan cheese and let melt. Serve along with kale, mushrooms, and an additional sprinkle of cheese if desired. Top off with optional diced avocado and Sriracha and enjoy!
IMG_5781

While your quinoa is cooking, frizzle up your shrooms

January Food1

Steam your kale

IMG_5788

Add the cheese to your cheesy quinoa

IMG_5790

Prepare your bowl – quinoa, then kale, then mushrooms

IMG_5800

And top off with more cheese!

IMG_5803

I added avocado and Sriracha to mine, because why not?

Lentil Chickpea Coconut Curry

Standard

IMG_3788

Since trying lentils for the first time last summer, I’ve become mildly obsessed with them and usually cook them anywhere from one to three times a month. I love lentils with brown rice, or with sausage, but my favorite way to eat lentils is in a delicious curry. I was originally going to post a recipe for Chana Masala (chickpea curry), but decided I needed to include my beloved lentils and also some greens.

IMG_3783

If you enjoy curry, I definitely recommend giving this recipe a try. Hearty lentils and chickpeas are simmered in a flavorful tomato-curry sauce with kale and coconut milk, served over rice. This meal is so filling and satisfying, I bet most wouldn’t guess that it’s vegan. I admit I sometimes miss meat in a vegetarian or vegan meal, but this isn’t one of them. Lentils and chickpeas are both packed with protein, very low in fat and diet superfoods in my book. I’ve been making this meal in some variation or another for months now, and it really has become one of my favorites. This is the first time I made it with coconut milk and I love the way it mellows out the strong flavors a bit. The amount of spices are based off my personal preferences, so you may find you want more or less of something – just have fun playing around with it!

Lentil Chickpea Coconut Curry

IMG_3772

Ingredients:
serves 5-6

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups of water, veggie stock or chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry brown or green lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
  • 5-6 stalks kale, torn into small pieces or 4-5 cups spinach (I used both)
  • 1 Tbsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp red curry powder or garam masala
  • 1 tsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp cumin + 1 tsp coriander (or 2 tsp cumin if coriander is not available)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained (feel free to use the whole can if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp)
  • fresh cilantro and scallions to garnish, warmed Naan to serve

IMG_3728

IMG_3739

Directions:

  1. In medium saucepan, cook rice according to box directions. You can do this step in advance, or let the rice cook while you’re preparing the rest of the meal.
  2. In a 3-4 quart cooking pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over low heat. Add diced onion and carrots and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic and continue cooking.
  3. Once veggies have softened and browned a bit (about 15-20 minutes), add water or stock to the pot, along with your lentils and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then return to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato sauce or diced tomato to the pot and stir in kale. (If using spinach, don’t add it until later – see step number 5.) Season with all of the spices (yellow curry powder through red pepper flakes) and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until kale is tender and the curry has thickened.
  5. Stir in chickpeas, coconut milk, and lime juice (and spinach, if using) and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve curry over rice, with a garnish of fresh cilantro, scallions, and warmed Naan. 🙂
IMG_3734

Start by sauteing your veggies

IMG_3740

Once veggies are tender, add 3 cups of water or stock to the pot, along with lentils and 1 bay leaf. Simmer for 10 minutes.

April Food-002

Stir in tomato sauce, kale and spices and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

IMG_3749

Once kale is tender, add chickpeas, coconut milk, and lime juice to the curry. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

IMG_3754

The finished product!

IMG_3781

Kale Pesto

Standard

IMG_3111

Kale: It’s what’s for dinner.

Somewhere over the last year, I developed a deep love for kale. Yep, I’m one of those strange people that actually truly enjoys kale and I even prefer it to spinach. I eat it in salads, stir-fry, pasta dishes, soups, scrambled eggs, and I get kind of anxious when I don’t have any in the house. I love curly kale because there is so much surface area to the leaves and it’s one of the cheapest greens you can buy, averaging around $0.99 per pound. It’s much more substantial than spinach and doesn’t wilt into a slimy pile of nothing when you cook it. Kale can be bitter sometimes, but every now and then I’ll get a really good bunch that is sweet and full of flavor.

Today I somehow found myself with four bags of kale crammed into the back of the fridge… oops. I had seen recipes for kale pesto and today seemed like the perfect time to make it. I’m a huge fan of traditional basil pesto so I of course had to try out a pesto recipe using my favorite green.

I was concerned this pesto would be lacking in flavor since kale isn’t as fragrant as basil, but I was wrong. The kale gives a sweet, mellow flavor and the combination of almonds, parmesan cheese, and garlic doesn’t hurt, either. You can still include some basil in this recipe if you think you’ll miss the flavor. Incorporating kale into your pesto will make it go a long way and will save you money as well. Win-win!

IMG_3130

Kale Pesto
makes roughly 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch/6-8 stalks kale, leaves torn into pieces and stems discarded
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (to toast raw almonds, see directions below)
  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 green onions or 2 Tbsp chopped shallots
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil or small handful of fresh basil leaves (optional)

IMG_3071

Directions:

  1. Fill a 3-4 quart pot halfway full with water and bring to a boil. Add kale and cook for 1-2 minutes, until kale turns bright green and is slightly tender to the touch. Drain in the sink and let cool.
  2. To toast your almonds, lightly spray a small frying pan with cooking spray and turn onto low-medium heat. Add your almonds and let them toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring often, until they are light brown.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. You may need to do this in batches if your food processor is on the smaller side, especially because kale takes up so much space. Season with salt to taste and enjoy on pasta, sandwiches, and more!
IMG_3075

Bring water in a large pot to boil and cook kale for 1-2 minutes until bright green and slightly tender. Drain and let cool.

IMG_3074

Toast your almonds in a small, greased frying pan if they are not already toasted. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring often, until light brown.

IMG_3078

Combine all ingredients in your food processor and blend until smooth.

IMG_3089

Season with salt to taste and enjoy 🙂

IMG_3136

Mmm 🙂

Curried Lentil & Kale Soup

Standard

I’ve been on a soup kick lately. Lately meaning since approximately June. Or maybe that’s when I started to realize that I just really love soup. There is something about a homemade bowl of soup that is so satisfying to me. It’s warm, filling, and who can say no to a one-pot meal? Soup is one of the cheapest and easiest meals to make on your own, and it’s super simple to reheat for a quick leftover.

Indian cuisine is something I knew little to nothing about growing up.  When I was in high school, my dad and I decided to check out a local Indian restaurant he had heard good things about. I didn’t know what to order and wasn’t crazy over my food, thinking from then on that I just wasn’t a big fan of Indian food (in my narrow-minded seventeen-year old brain). Fast-forward to college, and I’m surrounded by a huge selection of international cuisines from all around the world. Senior year of college, I tried out Indian food again, and this time I loved it. My favorite dishes are the ever-popular Chicken Tikka Masala and curried lentils – two items you’ll find on just about any Indian restaurant menu.

This curried lentil and kale soup is a winner in my book. It’s fast, inexpensive, healthy, and filling. I used chicken stock as the base, but sub veggie stock and you’ve got yourself one tasty, hearty vegan meal. Lentils are a great source of protein, fiber, and iron, making them a go-to option for many vegans and vegetarians. If you have missed all of the hype over the super food kale, then you have likely been living under a rock. (Only kidding – check out this page to learn more about the health benefits of kale.)

Basically, if you like curry and you’re looking for a simple, fast, and healthy soup to keep your belly full, this guy is the one.

Curried Lentil & Kale Soup
serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (1/4 for less spice)
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 4-5 stalks kale, leaves torn into small pieces (or 8-10 cups of your favorite greens)
  • optional: serve with chopped green onions, cilantro, a dollop of plain yogurt, and warmed Naan

Your ingredients (ignore the coconut milk, I didn’t end up using it)… and naturally I forgot to include the kale, but I’m sure you all know what that looks like!

Directions:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add diced onions and carrots and cook for 10 minutes or until slightly softened.
  2. Add garlic and rest of spices. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Transfer veggies to a 3-4 quart cooking pot. Add tomato paste, stock and lentils. Stir and bring to a boil, then let simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
  4. Optional: using an immersion blender or regular blender, blend the soup to achieve a smoother texture. I left mine slightly chunky. (If using a regular blender, wait until soup has cooled slightly.)
  5. Add kale and stir, continuing to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until kale is tender and has turned dark green.
  6. Serve with optional toppings and enjoy.

Saute diced onions and carrots until softened slightly

Stir in spices and saute for another 1-2 minutes

After picking over lentils, rinse and drain (I used a combination of red and green lentils)

Transfer sauteed veggies to a cooking pot and add chicken or veggie stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Stir and bring to a boil, then return to a simmer and cook until lentils are soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Optional: To achieve a thicker, smoother soup, use an immersion blender or regular blender (If using a regular blender, remove soup from heat and wait until it’s cooled slightly)

Your soup will look something like this if you choose to blend it.

Stir in kale and let the soup continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until kale is tender and has turned dark green.

I apologize for the bad lighting in the photo, but this is what the soup looks like when it’s finished

Serve with warm Naan and optional toppings (I simply added chopped cilantro)

🙂

Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing

Standard

At UMass, there’s a cute little vegan/vegetarian cafe called “Earthfoods”. It’s a student-run organization and they serve up fresh, healthy meals daily. Prior to eating there, I knew I enjoyed a lot of vegetarian food, but knew little about vegan food. The first time I ate there was at the beginning of my junior year with my friend Nik. He told me to get the steamed kale as a side choice, so I did. I had never eaten kale before but I knew it was somewhat similar to spinach. After a few bites, I wasn’t really into it, so I gave my kale to Nik, who happily devoured it. Then I looked around and realized just about everybody surrounding us was also eating a huge plate of kale. What is with these people and their kale? I thought to myself.

Fast forward to a few months later: I was one of those people also enjoying a big plate of kale. I guess it just grows on you.

Their kale is cooked perfectly and always ripe and sweet. My favorite part is the tahini dressing that many people pour over the kale. It’s nutty and tangy and complements the kale perfectly. Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. If you’re a hummus-eater, you’ve probably eaten tahini at some point or another. Tahini is one of the main ingredients in most types of hummus. It adds that tangy, slightly bitter taste. It’s often used as a substitute for cream in vegan meals because it has a very smooth, thick consistency. Trader Joe’s sells small tubs of it (already mixed with lemon juice and garlic) that you can find in their hummus section, or in the natural foods section of your local grocery store.

The tahini dressing at Earthfoods contains oil, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley and is super tasty. For this particular salad, I decided I wanted a slightly sweeter dressing so I added some honey. Pour that on top of your kale and add some toasted almonds, dried cranberries, and shallots and you’ve got one delicious, healthy salad! If you’re not a fan of kale, feel free to substitute your favorite greens. This salad would be great with baby spinach.

Instead of steaming the kale for this method, I used the “massaging” technique to soften it. It’s exactly what it sounds like – gently massaging oil or dressing into the kale leaves (using your hands) until they become softer and turn bright green. This helps break down the toughness of the leaves and bring out some of the natural moisture.

Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing

Ingredients:

  • For the dressing:
    • 2 Tbsp tahini
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp vinegar
    • 1 tsp honey
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 5 stalks kale, rinsed and torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup sliced roasted almonds (or to toast your own, see directions below)
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 small shallot, sliced thinly (or 1/4 cup sliced red onion)

For the dressing

For the salad

Directions:

  1. To prepare the dressing, simply combine the first 5 ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until combined.
  2. Pour the dressing over the kale leaves and using your hands, gently massage the leaves until they soften and turn bright green. Set aside.
  3. To toast the almonds, add 1 tsp olive oil to a small frying pan and heat over a low flame. Add the almonds (and a sprinkle of salt, if desired) and stir constantly for 30-45 seconds. The almonds toast very quickly so you have to keep and eye on them. They’ll be done within 1 minute.
  4. Toss the kale with the almonds, dried cranberries and sliced shallot and enjoy. 🙂

Mix the dressing up

Toast up some almonds

Massage the dressing into the kale (this is what it looks like before)

And this is what it looks like after. Notice how the leaves have turned bright green?

One nice thing about kale is that it holds up well to moisture. You could prepare this salad in the morning, dressing and everything, and it will barely have wilted by lunch time.
I really love the toasted almonds in this salad because they are nice and crisp and almost taste like pumpkin seeds!

🙂