Kale Salad with Lemon Thyme Pesto Vinaigrette

The flavor combination of this Italian inspired salad is phenomenal!  The sun-dried tomatoes work well with the lemon thyme pesto vinaigrette and the veggies add a great crunchy texture.
 Robby went back to work last week, which would have been hard after spending a whole month together; however, Beto and Paloma stayed with us the whole week while Jill was in Korea.  We had a few beach days and a lot of relaxing time.  Paloma wanted to stay for Robby’s birthday which ended up being a really fun day!
We went downtown and picked up a pink Santa Cruz sweatshirt for Paloma, then we went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk where Paloma had so much fun on the rides.  Although, she did not like the rollercoaster.  She said I don’t want to go on one ever again.  Awwww.  To top off the day, we went to the “West End Tap and Kitchen” for a great dinner as usual!  After they left, Robby and I assumed our normal routine and tomorrow is the first day I’ll have to myself in a long time and I’m kind of excited about it!  And this salad is a perfect way to start my routine!
 This salad goes great with any white wine! I enjoy it with a glass of Suave.
Recipe: Approx. 4 – 6 servings
  • 1 Head Kale – thinly chopped
  • 1/2 Fennel – cut in half and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Watermelon Radish – sliced and quartered
  • 1 Cup Red Cabbage – sliced – diced – or minced
  • 1/4 Cup Dry Sun-Dried Tomatoes (not packed in oil) – homemade or store-bought – minced
  • 1/2 Cup Pecorino Cheese – finely shredded – or to taste
  • 1 Cup Lemon Thyme Pesto Vinaigrette (or the whole recipe)
Garnish options:
  • Micro greens,
  • Toasted almonds
  • Finely shredded Pecorino Cheese
Instructions:
If you are making your own sun dried tomatoes, you will need to make them the day before.  Mince and set aside the sun dried tomatoes.
Make the vinaigrette.  Set aside.
 Wash the kale, remove the main rib by holding the end of the steam and pull down with your other hand then discard the main rib.  Chop the kale into thin strips. Add to a large bowl.
Cut stocks off the fennel bulb, cut bulb in half, then cut out the core of one half.  Slice the half in half, and then slice as thin as you can or use a mandolin.  Add to the kale.
Slice the radishes as thin as you can or use a mandolin. Cut the slices into quarters and add to kale.
Thinly slice the cabbage and add to kale along with the vinaigrette.  Mix really well.
Garnish with micro greens, toasted almonds and pecorino. (optional)
Health benefits:
Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and it is a loaded with antioxidants which helps detox the liver. It is also an anti-inflammatory with omega-3 fatty acids, which is helpful for arthritis, joint pain and asthma. Kale has more Iron than beef and more calcium than milk which helps prevents osteoporosis, joint flexibility and helps maintain normal bone health. It is great for cardiovascular support that helps in lowering cholesterol. It is really high in vitamin A, C, and super high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K (anyone taking anticoagulants should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K that may interfere with the drugs.)

Radishes help eliminate excess mucus in the body and are great for respiratory disorders, bronchitis and asthma. They are cleansing for the digestive system helping to break down and eliminate stagnant food and toxins that have built up over time as well as eliminate cancer-causing free radicals in the body. They are very high in vitamin C, which improves your immune system.They have a low glycemic index and helps to regulate the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream, which is great for diabetics. Radishes water content keep your body and skin keep hydrated and with their high fiber content they increase regular bowel movements, relieve bloating and help indigestion. They are a powerful detoxifier of the liver and stomach. They are also great for reducing blood pressure with the high potassium content.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes are very high in anti-oxidants; just one cup has 23 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 16 percent of vitamin A.  The Vitamin C in dried tomatoes helps your body absorb the high iron content as well. They are high in potassium which helps prevent and lower high blood pressure. These tomatoes are very high in dietary fiber compared to raw tomatoes.

Lemon Thyme has anti-aging properties and boosts the immune system. It helps fight asthma, promotes relaxation, and helps digestion.  Lemon thyme is high in iron and an excellent source of vitamin C.

Black Bean Potato Au Gratin with a Roasted Poblano Cheese Sauce

This is a flavor packed Mexican au gratin with a delicious roasted poblano cheese sauce that won’t disappoint!
This gratin is a real treat, especially if you like Mexican food as much as Robby and I do!  It is true comfort food for both of us.  Making a dish like this for Robby is an expression of my love for him.  After my restaurant, I had no desire to cook for many years.  However, that all changed when Robby and I got together.  I got my passion back!  The whole act of cooking is so much more than just cooking.  Its inspiring, creative, fills the room with aromatic scents of love and brings people together!  What was the last thing you were inspired to make for that special someone?
I enjoyed this with a glass of Verdejo.  It will also go great with a Mexican beer of your choice.
 Recipe: 9 – 12 Servings
  • 1 1/2 Cups Dried Black Beans 3 1/2 Cups Cooked + 1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 12 Cups Filtered water – add more as needed
  • 3 Poblano Peppers – roasted – diced
  • 2 1/2 + 1 Cups Jack Cheese – shredded
  • 1/3 Cup Raw Almonds – ground  – was 3/4 cup
  • 1 Cup Cilantro Leaves
  • 1 1/2 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes – thinly sliced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeño Peppers – minced (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Rice Flour (or regular all purpose)
  • 3 Cups Milk – (I used 1 %)
  • 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt ?
  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Corn – or to taste
Garnish ideas: 
Black beans
1. Add the beans and water to a soup pot . Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and let boil until beans are soft about 1 1/2 hours.
2. Make sure to check on the water levels incase you need to add more.  It is better to have more water than less.
3.  When the beans are cooked pour into a colander, rinse and mix in a bowl with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
Poblano and cheese
1. While the beans are cooking, roast the poblanos.  Remove skin, de-seed and de-stem.  Cut a slit in the poblanos and lay flat on a paper towel and dry both sides.
2. While I am roasting the poblanos, I normally grate the cheese.  If you do this, make sure to check on the poblanos so you don’t totally burn them.  Otherwise, finish roasting the poblanos and then grate the cheese.
3. Add 2 1/2 cups of the grated cheese to a bowl and set aside.
4. Put the remaining cup of grated cheese into a bowl, then grind the almonds in a food processor until it becomes a fine crumble, add them to the cup of cheese and mix  together.
Cilantro, potatoes and corn
1. Wash the cilantro and dry completely with some paper towels.  Pick the leaves off the stems and measure.  If still damp, dry them more.  Set aside.
2. Slice potatoes into thin slices (about 1/8-inch thick).  Add potatoes to a pot and cover with water then bring to a boil, continue to boil for 2 minutes.
3. Drain potatoes in a colander, rinse with cold water.  Dry them with a kitchen towel or a paper towel.  Set aside.
4. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, turn off the heat and drop the corn in just long enough to defrost.  Drain in a colander and dry them as best you can in a paper towel.  Set aside on a dry paper towel to collect any remaining water.
Sauce

1. Mince the garlic and jalapeño, add olive oil, garlic and jalapeño to a large heavy saucepan. Sauté over medium-low heat, stirring until the garlic is soft and starts to turn slightly golden,

2. Add wine and reduce to a syrup.

3. Add butter and salt.  When butter is melted, add flour and continue stirring for about 2 minutes.

4. Slowly add milk a little at a time (this is important) while whisking constantly. Bring liquid to a boil, continuing to stir then reduce heat to a simmer.  Add cheese a little at a time, stir until the cheese is completely melted.  Add the poblano and jalapeño, mix in completely.  Cook until sauce thickens.

Assemble

Pre-heat oven to 375

1. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 3 quart casserole dish.  Add a layer of potatoes (if you have some that are thicker than 1/8 inch place them on the outside and the thinner pieces in the middle)  then spread a thin coat of sauce over the potatoes.

2. Evenly spread out half of the black beans.  Next, add a little more sauce, another layer of potatoes and more sauce.

3. Evenly spread the remaining beans, cilantro, corn and add more sauce.  Add the last layer of potatoes, then the rest of the sauce.

4. Bake for 30 min uncovered on the middle rack.

5. Cover with foil and bake for 20 more minutes.

6. Take out of the oven and evenly spread the cheese and almond mix on top and put back in the oven for 15 minutes uncovered.

Black-Bean-Potato-Au-Gratin-with-a-Roasted-Poblano-Cheese-Sauce

 Health benefits:

Black beans are high in cholesterol lowering dietary fiber, 1 cup of cooked beans provides you with over 1/2 of your daily requirements and reduces blood cholesterol that helps prevent heart disease.   The fiber supports the digestive tract and the colon, which helps constipation, diverticulitis and other gastrointestinal disorders.  They also maintain normal blood sugar levels, helping to prevent diabetes.   Black beans are a very good meat substitute because of their 15 grams of protein in 1 cup and contain only trace amounts of saturated fat and no cholesterol.  They contain phytochemicals, substances found only in plant foods that help fight cancer and other chronic diseases.  They increase energy with the good amounts of iron in them and have more antioxidant activity than other types of beans. They neutralize cell-damaging free radicals that may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.  Black beans are also rich in B vitamins, Folate, potassium (helps regulate your blood pressure and heart rate), magnesium, calcium (builds and maintains bones) and other heart-healthy nutrients.

Poblano Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C; just one pepper has 95% of your daily value.  They are great for your immune system and help to reduce inflammation like in arthritis and asthma. They contain lycopene a powerful antioxidant, giving many fruits and vegetables their color, especially tomatoes, which is great for the prevention of cancers in the bladder, prostate, cervix and pancreas. They are also helpful with increasing oxygen so the body can burn more calories 20 minutes after eating peppers.  They’re also full of vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium.

Roasted Potato Tomatillo Pureed Soup with Cilantro Pesto and Chili Oil

Omg, this soup is insane! It’s an awesome soup just as it is, but if you take the time to make the cilantro pesto, chili oil and roasted poblano, you will be in soup heaven!

Roasted-Potato-Soup copy

The last few days have been a lot of fun because I had the privilege to hang out with our goddaughter Sabastian.  She is moving from Arizona to Oregon to live with a friend and stopped by on her way for a few days.  She is always a pleasure to have around.  We had a nice lunch in Los Gatos, went for a couple of walks on the beach, made yummy food and cruised around the farmers market while she grazed on all the samples.

Roasted-Potato-Tomatillo-Soup

While at the farmers market I picked up everything I needed to make this soup as well as the cilantro pesto, chili oil and poblano chilis.

The chili oil is so great for adding a little heat to soups, salads, stir frys, etc…  I usually make the tomatillo salsa, pesto, chili oil and roast the poblano the day before I plan to make the soup.

Creamy-Roasted-Potato-Soup copy

I love this soup with a dry crisp white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay or a nice Spanish white.  It is also great with a Pinot Noir or a Tempranillo.

Potato-Soup

Recipe: 10 – 12 servings

Roasted Potatoes

  • 6 Yukon Gold Potatoes ( about 2 lb)
  • 2 Tablespoon Thai Chili Olive Oil – or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Dry White Wine
  • 2 Clove Garlic – minced
  • 1- 2 Jalapeno – sliced

Roasted Tomatillo Mandarin Salsa (this is a half batch of the original recipe.  You can make a whole batch and use the other half for these chili renellos.)

  • 6 – 7 Tomatillos – 3/4 lb.
  • 1/4 White Onion
  • 1 Serrano Chili Peppers
  • 1/2  Cup Cilantro
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Mandarin (Satsuma) Juice –  fresh squeezed
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Mandarin Zest (optional)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

The rest

  • 8 oz or 2 1/4 Cups Jack Cheese – shredded
  • 1/2 Onion – 1 1/4 Cup – Diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Chili Oil or Regular Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 Cup Milk (I used 1%)
  • 6 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Garnish (make ahead)

Instructions:

Tomatillo Salsa

Peel the paper skin off of the tomatillos, cut the cores out and cut in half, then spread them out on a baking sheet cut side down.

Turn on the broiler and broil tomatillos for 6 – 7 minutes then flip over for another 3 – 4 minutes or until very soft and slightly burnt.

Add the onion to a pot of water and bring to a boil, then remove, let cool and put in a food processor.

When tomatillos are finished cooking, let coo and add to food processor.

Cut the stems off the serrano then de-seed and add to the food processor along with the cilantro, garlic, lime, and salt.  Puree.

Potatoes

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees

Dice the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.  Put the potatoes into a 9 by 14 Pyrex baking dish and add the oil, garlic and salt.  Mix together to coat all the potatoes evenly.

Cover with foil and place into the oven on the middle rack for 45 minutes.  Turn the oven to broil, take the foil off and place the potatoes on the top rack and broil for  7- 10 minutes or until they start to brown.  Make sure to keep an eye on them.  Remove from oven and let cool.

The rest

Shred the cheese and set aside.

Dice the onion and add to a 5 1/2 quart soup pot along with the oil and saute on medium-low heat until onions are soft and translucent.  Add the wine and reduce to a syrup.  Add the tomatillo salsa, milk, lime juice, salt and pepper.

In a food processor add half the potatoes and about 2 cups of the water and puree then add to the soup.  Repeat with the remaining potatoes and 2 more cups of water.  Then add the final 2 cups of water to the soup (total of 6 cups of water).  Stir and cook until hot, then slowly add the cheese and cook until the cheese is completely melted.

Serve it with diced roasted poblano, drizzled with chili oil,  sprinkled with blue corn chips and topped with a dollop of cilantro pesto.

Creamy-Potato Tomatillo Soup

Health benefits:

Yellow Potatoes – Yukon gold’s content of potassium is higher than many foods and can help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. They have twice the amount of vitamin C as a Russet, which helps protects your cells from free-radical damage. Yukon’s are rich in B6 and antioxidant properties. It has a bit of Iron but the C helps the body absorb it. They contain fiber that helps reduces cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, helps prevent constipation and aids in weight loss.

Tomatillos have been found to have anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties from the Ixocarpalactone-A, a phyto-chemical.  They contain niacin, which helps convert food into energy. They are a rich source of vitamin C and flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants, vitamin K  that increases bone mass, potassium that helps electrolyte regulation, nerve function, muscle control, and blood pressure, folate that supports red blood cell formation and fiber.  They are without sugars, low in salt and cholesterol-free.

Black Lentil Roasted Purple Potatoes Salad with Cilantro Pesto Vinaigrette

This rustic salad is extremely flavorful and satisfying.  It makes a great side dish and is filling enough to be a meal all in of itself!
Four and a half years ago my body changed and I started to gain weight.  First, it was a couple pounds and the next thing I knew, I was 15 pounds over weight. 15 POUNDS!  I
am talking within a month!  I am only 5′ 3 and 3/4, yes I said 3/4 quarters.  When you are my height every 1/4 inch counts, haha!  I have had to change so many things in my diet and I have had to become very diligent with my exercising.  You have to realize, I have never in my whole life had to think about what I was eating.  It really has been a blessing though.  I have eaten relatively healthy my whole life, but now I had to cut out sugar, wheat, soy and corn for the most part.  I will eat them on occasion.
Lately, I have been eating dishes like this lentil salad as well as kale salads, soups and falafel.  My body seems to like this and I have FINALLY achieved my goal weight.  It only took 4 and 1/2 years but hey, I’ll take it!  Bottom line, there is no such thing as the perfect diet.  You really do have to make lifestyle changes.  Have you struggled with weight?  What’s your story?  And what works for you?
This salad goes great with a nice red Rioja, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, white Rioja, or a Sauvignon Blanc.
Recipe: 6 – 8 servings

Roasted Potatoes

  • 1 lb. Purple Potatoes -1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Clove Garlic – minced
  • 1 Clove Garlic and 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
Lentils
  • 1 1/2 Cup Black Lentils – dry
  • 7 Cups Filtered Water

Vinaigrette -Incase you want to make more of the Cilantro Asiago Pesto, here is the whole batch.  I use a half batch for this salad with the addition of the lemon juice, vinegar and a bit more salt.

  • 1 1/2 Cups Cilantro Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Asiago – finely shredded
  • 1/4 Cup +2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 3 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Salt

Veggies

  • 1/4  – 1/2 Fennel Bulb (about 1 cup) –  thinly sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Fennel Fronds
  • 1 Carrots -(about 3/4 cup) shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage – sliced or minced

Instructions:

Potatoes

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash the potatoes and dice them into 1/2 inch chunks.  Put potatoes in an Pyrex baking dish and add the olive oil, garlic and salt.  Mix throughly, making sure to coat all of the potatoes with the oil.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until soft enough to pierce with a fork.  Then turn oven to broil and place potatoes under broiler uncovered for 7 minutes.

Lentils

While potatoes are cooking, sort lentils to make sure there are no rocks then rinse and drain.

Add the lentils and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer.

Cook until just tender approx. 15 – 20 minutes, you don’t want them too soft or they will be mushy, so check them at 15 minutes.

While the lentils are cooking start the vinaigrette.

When the lentils are done, drain them into a mesh colander, rinse with water to help them cool down and allow them to cool to room temperature.

Vinaigrette

Pick the leaves off of the cilantro stems, finely shred the cheese, measure the cilantro, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, salt and put them into a food processor. Turn the processor on then pour in the lemon juice and vinegar until smooth.  Once the lentils are cooled mix them into the vinaigrette.

Veggies

Cut the stalks off the fennel and cut in half then cut out the core.  Slice as thin as you can then add them to the lentils.  Thinly slice the fennel fronds and add to lentils.

Shred the carrot and slice or mince the cabbage and add to lentils.

Mix well and serve with the potatoes.

Roasted-Potato-Black-Lentil-Salad

 Health benefits:

 Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady steam of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health. Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain.  Glucose is a sugar and key source of energy for cells in the body, and is the only fuel your brain can use.  The high fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells, and is a key component in keeping your brain in excellent shape. They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth. Lentils originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River have been eaten for over 8000 years

Purple potatoes are originally from their origins in Peru and Bolivia.  They contain 4 times as much antioxidants as Russet potatoes. The deep blue or purple color produces an flavonoid antioxidant called anthocyanin which helps boost the immune system, the same that can be found it blueberries, blood oranges,  pomegranates and black rice.  They are high in potassium and have anti-inflammatory properties.  Purple potatoes have a high concentration of phytochemicals and one called chlorogenic acid and has been linked to lowering blood pressure.  They are also a good source of complex carbohydrates, vitamin C, folic acid and iron.

Cilantro is an extreme anti-oxidant immune-booster that helps detoxify the body by loosening them from the tissue, binding to and pulling out toxins and heavy metals.  It helps promote a healthy liver function and is an overall digestive aid.  It is a powerful anti-inflammatory that may help symptoms of arthritis and joint pain. Cilantro can lower bad cholesterol level and increase the good cholesterol level.  It also helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar. It is rich in essential oils, vitamins and is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K and dietary fiber. It is also an excellent source of omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids and calcium.

Roasted Poblano Pesto

This is the most amazing and flavorful pesto EVER!  I love the roasted flavors from the poblano, the spiciness from the jalapenos as well as it’s perfectly balanced from the Asiago!

Roasted-Poblano-Pesto

 I am a roasted poblano fanatic, so of course I had to make a pesto with them.  I love the smell of them roasting, I love to stuff them, dice them up and put them in everything!  What do you like to use them in?

Roasted-Poblano-Asiago-Pesto

This pesto goes great with a Spanish red or white Rioja!

Homemade-Roasted-Poblano-Pesto

Recipe:  Approx. 2 Cups

  • 2 Poblano Peppers – roasted
  • 3/4 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Aged Asiago Cheese -finely shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 – 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste

Instructions: 

Roast the poblano peppers, remove the burnt skin, remove the stems and seeds.

Finely shred the Asiago, peel the garlic, measure all other ingredients, put into a food processor or blender and puree.

Roasted-Poblano-Pesto-with-Asiago-Cheese

Health Benifits:

Poblano Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C;  just one pepper has 95% of your daily value. They are great for your immune system; they help reduce inflammation like in arthritis and asthma and are helpful with increasing oxygen so the body can burn more calories 20 minutes after eating peppers.  They contain lycopene, which is great for the prevention of cancers in the bladder, prostate, cervix and pancreas.