Winter Soup: Sausage, White Bean and Kale

The weather in Basel has been grey, cold and rainy.  Although the temperatures aren’t anywhere near what we experienced in Hanover, I still am yearning for a glimpse of sun.  At least the the weather isn’t  stopping us from enjoying the full range of festivals Basel has in store. We enjoyed dozens of rides for the fall festival, Herbestmesse.  We got completely drenched with friends, but felt like we were kids again enjoying the gluhwein, brautwursts and cheesy bread. Granted I got totally motion sick at the end of the night…now we’re waiting for the Christmas markets to charm the city center.

The only other excitement with the weather turning is that we are in soup season again!  There is nothing better than having a hot pot of soup just steaming and reducing on your stove.  This recipe is one of my favorite soups because it’s hearty and really flavorful.  I also love kale and finally found some at the French markets.

Ingredients:

– 1 garlic clove (minced)

– 1 dried red pepper (chopped)

– 4 shallots (minced)

– 2 onions (minced)

– olive oil

– 2 sausages (I like to get merguez or something flavored. They had fennel ones at the store, which were delicious – chopped)

– 4 Cups Chicken Broth

– Parmesan rind

– 2 bay leaves

– 10 stalks of kale (chopped)

– Salt and pepper to taste

– 1 can of white beans

Directions:

– Heat olive oil in a pot (preferably a Le Creuset-like pot) and when hot toss in onions, shallots, garlic and chili. Saute until onions are translucent

– Place in sausage and brown the sausage. You want to get a nice brown base at the bottom of the pot.

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See the brown?!

– Pour in chicken stock and degalze (very important to make sure you get a good soup base)

– Bring to a boil adding in the bay leaves and parmesan rind

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– Turn the heat down low to reduce for an hour or so

– Remove bay leaves and what’s left of the rind and add kale and white beans

– Bring back to a boil and serve to beat those winter blues away!

– Optional garnish: parmesan cheese and parsley

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Kale Pesto Pasta

Kale Pesto Pasta

Has it really been almost a month since any of us have posted? We have all been crazy with moving, working, planning for weddings (!), so if you all are like me, it has been a task just to get any kind of food on the table.

We moved to Knoxville a few days ago and were lucky enough to bring along with us a cooler full of goodies from my Uncle David’s gorgeous garden, including a ginormous bag of kale. So, if you haven’t had enough of our kale recipes, here’s one more. It went on the table in a jiffy, which was good since we were starving after unpacking all day and we were also ready for something home-cooked.

This is a good recipe to riff on, as evidenced by the inspiration recipe from 101 Cookbooks. Next time, I’ll try adding some basil or spinach to round it out. Of course, you can add lots of garlic and shallot like she did in the original, but too much garlic gives me heartburn, so I added it with a light hand. It also wouldn’t have hurt to toss in some lemon zest as well since I was already juicing the lemon. Next time, next time . . .

Kale Pesto Spaghetti with Feta Cheese

adapted from Winter Pasta, 101 Cookbooks

  • 1 small bunch kale
  • small handful of parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • salt, to taste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 C. or so of olive oil
  • zest of half a lemon (optional)
  • a handful of basil and/or spinach (optional)
  • 1/4 C. walnuts
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • approximately 2 Tb. hot pasta water
  • 1/4 C. crumbled feta

Get the pasta water going. In the meantime, break off any hardy stems from the kale leaves. Using your hands, rip the kale leaves into big pieces and toss in the food processor. Add the parsley and any other herbs or spinach, and then either add the garlic clove put through a garlic press or minced by hand. Add a bit of salt, the lemon juice, and start the food processor. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil slowly. Once the mixture has come together, add the walnuts and lemon zest, if desired, and then process. You can add a Tb. or so of water to get the mixture smooth. Taste the mixture for salt and set aside.

Once the pasta water is going, cook the spaghetti. When the pasta is done, save a few tablespoons of the hot, starchy pasta water. Drain the pasta and then toss it with the pesto, adding the hot pasta water if needed to evenly coat the pasta with the pesto. Toss in the crumbled feta and serve while hot.

Kale Avocado Salad with Pumpkin Seeds & Tahini Dressing

Every time I eat kale, something deep in my gut says “gimme more!” I don’t know if it’s some kind of mystery umami, or one of it’s many nutrients (the Iron? the Vitamin K?), but something in it is so deeply satisfying.

There’s nothing new about a kale salad, which seem to be everywhere these days, but this combination of salty feta, rich tahini, and creamy avocado is really addictive. Like my recent Quinoa Veggie Salad, this recipe uses my favorite tahini dressing.

Kale Avocado Salad with Pumpkin Seeds & Tahini Dressing

  • 2 Tb. or more of tahini
  • juice of one lemon
  • warm water
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 4 C. of finely chopped raw kale, tough stems removed 
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 C. toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 C. crumbled feta
First, make the dressing: add the tahini to a bowl or mug and stir in the lemon juice. Beat the mixture until it tightens and turns white. Add a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add a dollop of olive oil, and then slowly stir in a bit of water until the dressing is thinned to salad dressing consistency. Taste for salt, seasoning to taste.
Toss the kale with the tahini dressing until coated evenly. Add the avocado, pumpkin seeds, and feta, and toss until distributed. Taste for salt and pepper, and then serve.

Tricks for Eggs

Naomi wrote about rice bowls with veggies and tofu – I wholeheartedly agree with her. Left over rice (or barley, quinoa etc) + veggies = the best.  Since Basel has no real edible tofu, for the extra source of protein I love gooey, runny eggs.  I know some people are opposed to runny eggs. I am not one of them.  Perhaps it’s from growing up in Japan where they often eat eggs raw or when the yolk covers each kernel of rice..mmm.  After a long hike in Neuchatel with Naomi last Sunday and on the train ride back, I was reading Bon Apetit and came across great articles on eggs.  Here are some fun pointers:

– Fresh test: drop an egg into water and if it 1) sinks = fresh and delicious; 2) bobs in the middle = not as fresh, but probably better for baking and fully cooked eggs; and 3) floats = garbage time!

– Poaching per esteemed chef Thomas Keller (French Laundry/Per Se) crack the raw egg in distilled vinegar before cooking to tighten the white. Boil water and instead of dropping the egg in, create a whirlpool by stirring then place the egg in.  Simmer for 2 minutes. Not 3 minutes or 5 minutes. TWO minutes.

Anyway, I tried these methods out on a farm fresh egg I bought when Nat was here at a Funfschilling in Germany. Had no idea what a Funschilling was, but a friend took us to lunch there and it was DELICIOUS farm to table food and great produce etc from the farm.

Note the beautiful yolk – you can also tell a fresh egg by the color/firmness of the yolk. The mass produced eggs have yolks that are pale yellow and break easily which I am sure shows the lack of nutrients and freshness:

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End product – I had it with left over black forbidden rice.  As Naomi said in her last post, I often also put seaweed (from Japan), soy sauce, and fresh scallions if I have them.

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PS – Totally forgot the timeliness of writing about eggs with Easter coming up.  Here are some tips for natural eggs coloring:

– Blue/purple: Red Cabbage

– Yellow: Saffront

– Red: Red Beets

– Green: Red Cabbage and Tumeric

Simmer ingredients with 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar and place eggs in it for 30 min!

Mushroom n’ Kale Rice Bowl with Tofu

My favorite food of 2012, aside from barley of course, has been kale. The kale chip in particular has been making quite a strong showing as weekend snack, thing to munch on while cooking, and item to quench my thirst for salty, crunchy snacks while at the hospital. But we all know about that already… so I bring you something new and slightly more filling: mushroom n’ kale rice bowl! (With tofu.) This is a super healthy meal with plenty of fiber, protein, and nutrients of all shapes and sizes. Its great as a quick dinner and/or leftovers for the next couple days, and a good use for leftover grains.

Mushroom n’ Kale Rice Bowl with Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 2 C cooked brown rice or other grain
  • 2 C Mixed mushrooms
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • Large handful kale, torn into pieces
  • 2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Chili flakes
  • Nori – According to Aya, Nori can ONLY be from Japan and is otherwise inedible, so you might as well not even make this dish. At least not until your next trip to Japan. But if you’re not as picky, anything you can find in Whole Foods or an Asian food market will suffice! =)
  • ~ 8 oz extra firm tofu
  • Olive oil

Cut the tofu into thin squares and fry until golden-brown and crunchy on both sides.

In the mean time, sautee the shallot with ginger and garlic until the shallot softens. Add the kale, mushrooms, soy sauce and brown rice vinegar, and sautee until the mushrooms are done, leaving the kale a bit crunchy.

Tear up the nori into strips.

Throw it all in a bowl, and sprinkle chili flakes on top for a little extra something special.