Tag Archives: vinaigrette

Kale Salad with Squash, Apples and Country Ham Croutons

The latest edition of Bon Appetit is all about The South, declaring this region as the next big food trend. Well, duh, everyone says. Whether it means black-eye peas, fish fried with cornmeal or country ham, it appears the masses are turning their heads to low-country cuisine.

One ingredient I surely never saw at the Safeways of the Pacific Northwest is country ham. The super-salty cured pork steak that is so sodium-soaked that it almost burns. In fact, the packages aren’t even refrigerated!

I typically enjoy country ham added to cooking beans or something that allows the salt and strong porkiness to distribute. But this Bon Appetit recipe uses it as a little crouton (my title) on top of a salad made from thick kale, tart apple, sweet squash and a simple vinaigrette. Oh, and buttermilk drizzled over the top. Just for effect … and more.

I must admit that I am trying so hard to like squash, and I simply don’t. Still, you can see why roasted butternut squash is great in this medley – the acid of the lemon vinaigrette, the heartiness of the kale, the saltiness of the ham, the crunch of the apple and the creamy tang of the buttermilk. It all works and is full of good vitamins and minerals.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, which used mustard greens and a few other details I changed.

Kale Salad with Squash, Apples and Country Ham Croutons

Ingredients:

  • 10 c. fresh kale, stems and ribs removed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 2 cups 1″ cubes peeled butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced country ham, chopped
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
Method:
  • Gently rub greens with 2 Tbsp. salt in a large bowl. Let stand, checking often, until the greens begin to release water and soften, about 15 minutes. Rinse in two changes of cold water. Squeeze greens dry and pat with a kitchen towel; transfer to a clean bowl.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. olive oil on prepared sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast squash, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and tender, 20–25 minutes. Let cool.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add ham and cook until crisp, 1–2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Add squash, apple, shallot, lemon juice, and remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil to greens.
  • Toss to combine; season to taste with salt. Divide evenly among plates. Drizzle with buttermilk. Arrange fried ham over. Season with cracked pepper.

Bon Appetit tells me that one whole salad contains less than 300 calories and less than 3 grams of saturated fat. Nevermind the sodium. 🙂

I’ve never had kale like this before and I think I had trouble getting used to its tough texture. But a bite that consisted of ham, the apple, the kale and the squash had a really sophisticated balance to it.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Baked Goat Cheese Salad

Baked (or, more often, fried) goat cheese salads are something I frequently order at restaurants, but never pulled off correctly at home. I usually tried to pan-fry the disks of lemony goat cheese, which resulted in them falling apart and burning in places. Then I looked through one of my old Cooks Illustrated magazines and found their perfect recipe for baked goat cheese salad.

Aha, you have to freeze the goat cheese before baking (or frying) it. And I must say that the baking method is much easier, less mess and more tasty than anything fried on your stove top (or Fry Daddy).

I adapted the recipe based on what I had at home and used a salad dressing I had left over from this recipe. I added dried cranberries and some pumpkin seeds that Grant had roasted with sesame and soy. Quite a tasty combination!

Baked Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. plain bread crumbs
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme
  • Black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 4-5 oz. goat cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • Salad mix (arugula is preferable)
  • Your favorite vinaigrette dressing
  • 1/4 c. roasted pumpkin seeds (or any seed or nut you like)
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries (or other fruit)
  • EVOO

Preheat oven to 475.

Cut goat cheese into 1/4-inch disks and roll disks into balls. Set aside. Whisk eggs with dijon in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix bread crumbs with thyme, large pinch of salt and 10 cracks of black pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Drop cheese balls into egg, then roll in bread crumbs. Flatten balls into disks, then place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cheese balls. Place prepared goat cheese in freezer for 30 min. (I only did it for like 15 min., and it worked fine)

When goat cheese is cold and firm, brush all over with olive oil and bake until crust is lightly golden brown and cheese is slightly soft, 7-9 min.

Meanwhile, toss salad mix with vinaigrette and sprinkle seeds and cranberries all over.

When cheese is done, delicately remove to paper towels, then place on top of salad. The crust will be thin and crisp, perfectly holding the soft cheese inside. I love the lemony thyme flavoring the cheese.

This was a deliciously light Friday dinner for us, perfect after a week of eating heavy foods.

Enjoy as a meal or as a great starter salad when you have company over. The goat cheese keeps well and you can just pan-fry it to heat it up the next day. Best served warm, of course, so the cheese can spread all over the salad.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo