Anyone who knows me, knows I love to cook. And not just the grind of getting something somewhat nutritious and delicious that the boys, now almost 8 and almost 6, will eat. (I know I'm blessed in that department of "good eaters," but enough wild salmon for a family of four is no joke either. . . )
To cook? To really cook... the community part of it. Buying as fresh and local as possible (how many days 'til my early season CSA at Norman's Farm starts?), simple but not overly processed, and trying new things that are satisfying, but somewhat healthy, quick and easy too.
Like many of my friends I feel a bit in the weeds lately in regards to raising these youngins . . . They are older and more independent, but that extra time "when they're both in school!" hasn't come, and we're in the 4th quarter of Kindergarten for my little guy. Among other things that have been swept into my PK life, that community feel of cooking that I so adore seems relegated to holidays and the occasional family dinner party, which is next to impossible to arrange with all of our activities and family commitments.
But, that connection to how I feel as a mom and how my kids eat still is alive and well. I mean, seriously, if anyone had every told me the connection between a mama and how her babes eat -- from journaling how much milk I fed my newborn to my heart jumping up and down when my little foodies claim they "love it!" -- I never would've believed it. Somewhere between carpool and working part time I manage to cook the majority of nights, but lately it's been less and less healthy or rewarding. My true passion is really good food and sharing it. On my run this morning I dreamed about starting a catering business, but it's really not in the cards right now (that weeds/grind thing I referenced. . . )
So, instead of said catering business, I'm coming out of my winter produce-tastes-like-paper funk and trying this blog thing again to keep me accountable on fun family (or in today's case, happy mama who finally has all kids at school and can eat lunch alone) dishes. I will try to share my ideas and what "works for me" on my quest to buy as fresh and local as possible and create dishes that my family and friends enjoy.
Today, I start with a little something I concocted in my mind while in the produce aisle trying to figure out a way to avoid the current lettuce situation for salad, where everything tastes like nothing.
Kale and Grain Salad
- 1/2 cup of dry grain of choice (I use an Italian 5 grain, pictured below) from Costco, but I think Quinoa, Farro, Barley, etc. would work just as well.
- 1 bunch of flat leave kale (sometimes called Tuscan)
- 1 red pepper
- Small handful of fresh parsley, chopped fine
- Mustard, red wine vinegar, one clove of garlic, salt and olive oil for homemade vinaigrette (don't freak out, I'll walk you through how to do)
- Feta cheese, if you care for it
First, cook the grains to package directions. While they cook prepare the vegetables. Cut the Kale very thinly (like a chiffonade almost) and the red pepper thinly as well. Mince the parsley.
Grab a big bowl suitable for mixing ingredients. Begin working on the vinaigrette. In the large bowl put a small dollop of mustard (you'll learn, I don't measure when it comes to cooking), and mince or mash one glove of garlic. Mix mustard and garlic together and add some salt. Pour a bit of red wine vinegar (maybe 2 tablespoons) and mix together. Now the hardest part: get your whisk ready and as you whisk the mustard mix, beat in the olive oil (maybe 4 tablespoons). The result will be a creamy yellow dressing that just sticks to the whisk.
By now the grains are done. Dump them in the vinaigrette. Add the kale, peppers and parsley and mix well. Sprinkle on the feta cheese last and toss. And voila, see below.
I would imagine this makes 2-3 servings and would be very easy to double or make as a side dish for dinner. I will eat rest tomorrow!
The verdict: Literally took 12 minutes. Yum. I will definitely make again. Which of my girlfriends here in MD wants to join me for lunch some Friday soon? If only I had the willpower to not add the piece of crusty bread, but it looked so good at the bakery. . .
The grain I am currently using: