In case you haven’t already noticed, kale, brussel sprouts and just about any dark leafy green have been taking the culinary world by storm lately. Which is fantastic considering how amazing they taste and how healthy they are for us.
Laura Russell a long time friend of mine- food writer and recipe developer for some of the biggest magazines, has taken these mighty greens to a whole new level in her newest cookbook, Brassicas, cooking the worlds healthiest vegetables.
As I opened up the book and began to read, I learned SO MUCH. Brassicas refer to some of the world’s healthiest vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and mustard greens. These vegetables are nutritional powerhouses. Within the pages of Laura’s book, she unlocks the secrets to cooking them with ease, and bringing out their delicious flavors. There is a diverse range of recipes including, salads, breakfast, soups, and smoothies!
OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, raw kale salads have become one of my favorite foods, making it difficult to narrow down which recipes to share. One reason I like them so much is because they take well to all kinds of tasty additions, such as fruits (grapes, dates, figs, pomegranate seeds), nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans), diced avocado, roasted bell pepper, and aged or salty cheese (goat, feta, Parmesan, pecorino). This salad is particularly straightforward: thinly sliced kale is combined with a Spanish-inspired dressing made from smoked paprika and sherry vinegar and then garnished with chopped egg and toasted almonds. Serve it alone as a simple lunch, or offer it as a side dish to skewers of garlicky grilled shrimp for supper. For an added, albeit expensive, Spanish touch, use Marcona almonds.
- 2 large eggs
- Kosher salt
- 1 large bunch kale (12 to 14 ounces), center ribs and tough stems removed, leaves finely shredded
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimentón de la Vera)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see page 13)
- Put the eggs in a small saucepan with cold water to cover. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain the eggs and then peel them. (You can cook the eggs a day ahead. Keep them covered in the refrigerator.) Chop the hard-boiled eggs into small pieces and toss them with a large pinch of salt.
- Put the kale in a salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, smoked paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Add the oil and whisk to combine.
- Drizzle the dressing over the kale, then, using your fingertips or tongs, toss together the kale and dressing. Spend a few minutes thoroughly working the dressing into the leaves. (At this point, you can cover and refriger-ate the salad for up to 4 hours before serving.) Add the almonds and eggs and toss once more. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed, then serve.
VARIATION To keep with the Spanish theme, shave some aged Manchego cheese over the salad. For a vegan version, omit the egg and add about 2/3 cup roasted red bell pepper strips (jarred is fine; pat them dry) and a few tablespoons golden raisins along with the almonds. Toasted Nuts: Put the nuts in a small frying pan and toast them over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant. Or, spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Either way, keep a close eye on the nuts to make sure they don’t burn. Toasted nuts will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.
The book dedicates each chapter to a different vegetable member of the brassica family. It begins by discussing the vegetable, what to look for in the store, preparation and nutrition before even introducing the recipes. She really lets you get to know the vegetable before working with it. I know in the past I have shied away from using certain veggies because I was unsure of how to cook them.
With recipes like charred Brussels sprouts with pancetta and fig glaze, how could you go wrong!? YAY for a book that makes cooking with vegetables feel exciting!