Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Greens

Fall squash and greens are two of my seasonal favorites and this dish includes them both for a hearty vegetarian meal. Roasted Acorn Squash and Quinoa with Greens also makes an elegant side dish served with roasted pork tenderloin and a simple salad.

Roasting acorn squash makes the skin tender enough to eat and not having to peel the squash saves time in the kitchen. This recipe is pretty hands-off, giving you more time to relax while your nutritious dinner is cooking.

Ingredients:
1 medium acorn squash
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup quinoa
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 bunch kale or other greens
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half and remove the seeds. Trim each half into thin wedges and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake until tender and golden brown, for about 45 minutes.
  2. Add quinoa and vegetable broth to a rice cooker and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove stems from kale and roughly chop. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add kale and water. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until wilted.
  4. When quinoa is done, fluff with a fork and stir in kale, salt and pepper. Serve squash wedges on top of quinoa and top with crumbled goat cheese.

Note: If you do not have a rice cooker, follow the package instructions for preparing quinoa on the stove top.

Loaded Salmon Mashed Potatoes

Enjoy the flavors of a stuffed baked potato with this dish, but with the velvety smoothness of mashed potatoes. These creamy spuds are topped with baked salmon, farm-fresh kale and crunchy bacon.

This meal has a beautiful plate presentation, perfect for entertaining. Turn it into an elegant appetizer by serving smaller portions in martini glasses. You could even make a mashed potato bar and let guests select from these topping and others, like pulled pork, roasted broccoli and smoked gouda.

Ingredients:
1 pound salmon filet, cut into 4 pieces
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon ground white pepper, divided
1 lemon
4 medium potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup skim or low-fat milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large bunch kale
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Season salmon with oregano, ⅛ teaspoon salt and pepper and place in a baking dish. Zest and juice lemon, drizzling both evenly on top of salmon. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until salmon is cooked through.
  2. Leaving the skin on the potatoes, scrub well and cut into 2-inch pieces. Add potatoes in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes, until fork tender.
  3. Drain potatoes and return to the pot. Add butter, milk, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper and mash to combine. With a hand mixer, blend until velvety smooth.
  4. Remove stems from kale and roughly chop. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add kale and 2 tablespoons water. Sauté for 4 to 5, until wilted. Season with ⅛ teaspoon salt and pepper.
  5. Scoop the mashed potatoes onto four plates and top each with equal amounts of sautéed kale. Remove skin from salmon and add a slice on top of potatoes and kale. Sprinkle bacon crumbles and serve.

Servings: 4

Shrimp and Kale Quesadilla

Kale is one of my favorite vegetables, because it is so versatile and delicious for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For a quick meal with a Mexican twist, sautéed greens pair perfectly with pinto beans, fast-cooking shrimp and cotija cheese. If you’re not serving four, reheat kale mixture the next day and serve for breakfast with a fried egg on top. Add a warm corn tortilla to the bottom of the dish for a different take on huevos rancheros.

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1 (15.5 ounce) can pinto beans
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
8 ounces raw peeled and deveined shrimp
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
4 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Remove stems from kale and roughly chop leaves. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add kale and water and sauté until wilted.
  2. Drain and rinse beans and add to the skillet with the kale. Add taco seasoning and stir to combine. Push the kale mixture to the edge of the skillet with a spatula and add shrimp the center of the skillet. Sauté until shrimp are pink and cooked through.
  3. Lay tortillas flat and add ¼ of kale, bean and shrimp mixture to one side of each tortilla. Top with 1 ounce of cotija cheese and fold in half.
  4. Lower heat to medium and place two quesadillas in the large skillet and cook for about three minutes on each side. Flip and continue cooking for another minute or two until both sides are golden brown. Continue cooking remaining quesadillas. Cut into four wedges and serve.

Servings: 4

Scrambled Eggs and Vegetable Panini

Eggs and vegetables are two of my favorite pairings and breakfast is one of my favorite meals, but this sandwich is not only delicious in the morning. It is also perfect for an easy weekend brunch with a Bloody Mary or for a quick dinner on a night when you would rather read a book than spend time in the kitchen. Spinach and swiss chard make great alternatives to kale and shiitake or white button mushrooms work well in place of the portabella. Enjoy your panini however you choose to make it and whatever time of day you decide to savor this meal.

Ingredients:
8 slices whole wheat bread
2 ounces herbed goat cheese
8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 medium bunch kale, stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
4 eggs
2 teaspoons butter

Directions:

  1. Heat panini press to medium-high heat. Spread 4 slices of bread with equal amounts of goat cheese and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop kale leaves. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, until brown and tender. Add kale and water to the skillet and sauté for a couple of minutes, until greens are wilted. Add balsamic vinegar to the sautéed vegetables and cook for another minute. Season with half of the salt and pepper and remove from heat.
  3. Place eggs and remaining salt and pepper in a medium bowl and lightly beat. Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add eggs and scramble.
  4. Place ¼ of scrambled eggs on top of the bread slice with goat cheese. Add ¼ of the kale and mushroom mixture on top of the eggs and top with a slice of bread. Working in batches, place two sandwiches on the panini press and heat for about 5 minutes, until cheese has melted and light brown grill marks appear on the sandwiches. Repeat and serve.

Servings: 4

Green Eggs Benedict with Hoecakes

Served over hoecakes, made from fresh ground cornmeal, this is a southern version of Dr. Suess’ breakfast, minus the ham. Sautéed kale and a light avocado sauce give this traditional egg dish two shades of green and a healthy makeover. Add ham for Sam or smoked salmon for a seafood take. Create a make-your-own Eggs Benedict station for brunch guests, along with a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar.

Hoecake Ingredients:
¾ cup cornmeal
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
canola oil, for greasing the griddle

Green Eggs Benedict Ingredients:
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled
Juice of 1 small lemon
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
¾ cup water
a couple pinches of salt and pepper
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped, or 5 ounces baby kale
8 eggs, poached or over-easy

Directions:

  1. Prepare a griddle over medium heat. In a large bowl, make the hoecake batter by stirring together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Add the egg and buttermilk and whisk to combine.
  2. Lightly brush griddle with canola oil. Ladle the batter onto the griddle, working in batches to create 8 hoecakes. Cook until bubbles start to form on the top and the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown and the center is cooked through. Place cooked hoecakes on a serving platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the batter, adding remaining oil to the griddle as needed.
  3. Place avocado in a blender or food processor. Add lemon juice, 2 teaspoons canola oil, water and a pinch of salt and pepper. Puree until smooth, adding more water as needed to reach desired consistency.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a medium skillet and add kale leaves. Sauté until wilted, for about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Top each hoecake with sautéed kale and an egg. Drizzle with avocado sauce and serve.

Servings: 8

B-Kale-T Bites

Move over lettuce, sautéed kale is a new match for crispy bacon and juicy tomato slices. Served over toasted baguette slices, these bites make a hardy appetizer that is easy to eat with your hands. It’s an easy dish to make with two farm-fresh ingredients from your Community Supported Agriculture share or with summer favorites from the Farmers’ Market. This dish pairs well with an earthy Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Oregon. Just make this simple recipe, open a bottle of vino and you are ready to entertain.

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon salt, plus more for serving
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ whole grain baguette, cut into ¼ inch slices
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
10 slices bacon, cooked to desired level of crispy

Directions:

  1. Remove stems from kale and roughly chop. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add kale and water. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat broiler to high. Broil for about one to two minutes per side, until lightly browned on the edges.
  3. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar. Spread balsamic mayonnaise on baguette slices and top with bacon, kale and tomatoes. Add a pinch of salt to the tomato on these B-Kale-T Bites and serve.

Servings: 4

Sweet Potato and Kale Breakfast Hash

Vegetables and sunny-side-up eggs are my favorite breakfast combination. My Sweet Potato and Kale Breakfast Hash includes sausage in the mix for a hardy breakfast that will fuel you up for a busy day. This is also an easy dish to make for brunch, and leftovers are great warmed up and topped with a freshly fried egg on weekday mornings. Enjoy with a glass of milk or a cup of joe.

Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
½ pound ground sausage
½ tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
4 eggs, fried to desired preference

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping with a spatula halfway through cooking.
  2. Crumble sausage in a large skillet, breaking it up with a spatula for about 5 to 6 minutes, until cooked through. Drain sausage drippings from skillet.
  3. Add kale to skillet with sausage and sauté until wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and stir to combine. Serve hash with fried egg on top.

Servings: 4

Massaged Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Massages are the ultimate way to relax and unwind. Kale responses similarly to the human body after a massage as its tough leaves chill out and become smooth and soft. It sounds a little silly to massage kale, but it is worth the extra work to transform this hardy vegetable into a more delicate leafy green.

A little olive oil and balsamic vinegar go a long way when massaging kale, but I like to serve it with extra oil and vinegar at the table to let family or guests drizzle more if desired. Cranberries, blue cheese and roasted sweet potatoes turn this salad into a meal that’s satisfying enough on its own. It also makes a nice side dish with roasted turkey or pork tenderloin.

Roasted Sweet Potato Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Salad Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to evenly coat and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping with a spatula halfway through cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, remove stems from kale and chop. Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Massage the leaves with clean hands for about two minutes, until well coated and kale begins to soften and wilt.
  3. Add blue cheese, cranberries, salt, pepper and roasted sweet potatoes. Toss to combine and serve.

Servings: 4

 

Kale, Apple and Cheddar Panini with Strawberry Jam

Sautéed kale is not just for side dishes. Give it a try as a sandwich base and you will forget all about lunch meat. This Kale, Apple and Cheddar Panini with Strawberry Jam is a hearty vegetarian sandwich with seasonal farm-fresh favorites. It is comfort food that packs a nutritious punch and takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients:
2 sub sandwich loaves (5 to 6 inches each), cut from a baguette
1 medium bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 small apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 slices white cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons strawberry jam (preferably homemade)

Directions:

  1. Preheat a panini maker to medium-high. Slice sandwich loaves in half and set aside.
  2. Remove stems from kale and roughly chop. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add kale and water. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Add balsamic vinegar and cook or another minute, tossing to evenly coat.
  3. Layer apple slices, kale and cheddar cheese on the bottom bread slices. Spread strawberry jam on the top bread slices. Stack together and place sandwiches in the panini maker, closing the top. Grill until the bread is crusty and golden and cheese has melted. Slice sandwiches in half and serve.

Note: If you do not have a panini maker, use a grill pan or skillet and flip the sandwich to grill both sides. Placing a heavy skillet on top of the panini while grilling will give you the panini effect.

Servings: 2

Quick Kale Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits are one of my favorite southern duos. This dish is often prepared with heavy cream and can take some time to make with slow cooking grits. I created this lighter, quick-cooking version, which is ideal for summer evenings when you want a delicious homemade meal in less than 15 minutes. Fast meals like this one free up time to dine on the patio and enjoy warm summer evenings.

After dinner, I love watching the sky change colors as the sun sets and fireflies start to shine, listening to birds singing and reminiscing of summers spent outside as a child. I may have an ice cream cone or watermelon for dessert, something that takes me back to fond summer memories. Oh how refreshing and relaxing it can be spending outdoors. Cheers to spending less time in the kitchen, while still making delicious and nutritious meals this summer.

Ingredients:
½ cup quick cooking grits
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons half and half

Directions:

  1. Prepare grits according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for about a minute, until fragrant. Add kale and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until wilted. Add bell pepper and stir to combine.
  3. Push kale and pepper mixture to the edges of the skillet, creating an empty space in the middle. Add shrimp to the center of the skillet and sprinkle with salt, pepper, lemon zest and juice. When shrimp becomes pink on the bottom, flip and continue cooking until both sides are pink and shrimp is cooked through. Stir vegetables and shrimp together to combine.
  4. When grits are done cooking, remove from heat and add grated parmesan cheese and half and half. Stir until cheese is melted and grits are thick and creamy. Add grits to serving plates and top with shrimp and kale mixture.

Servings: 2

Note: For the roasted red bell pepper, you can use freshly roasted bell pepper or jarred roasted red peppers rinsed and diced.