Acorn Squash and Kale Salad with Lavender, Walnut Caramelized Onions

Enjoyed cold or warm, this salad combines autumn colors and fragrant flavors. It is easy to prepare the ingredients individually ahead of time and assemble them at the last minute for a Thanksgiving dinner or other get together. You can also add a few dried cranberries if you wish to make it a bit more festive.

20131122-053413.jpgIf you do not have lavender leaves, you can substitute for sage. A different flavor but one that also harmonizes well with the acorn squash.

20131122-053548.jpgIngredients:
1 1/2-1 3/4 lbs acorn squash
1/2 lb kale
1.5 lbs white onions
2 oz walnuts
6 Tbsp olive oil for vinaigrette + 2 Tbsp for caramelized onions and acorn squash
3 tsps balsamic vinegar for vinaigrette
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar for caramelized onions
1/8 oz lavender
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven 400F.

20131122-053804.jpgWash and cut the acorn squash in half. Remove the seeds with a large spoon.

20131122-053950.jpgBrush a little olive oil on the cut sides.

20131122-054133.jpgPlace the acorn squash cut side down in a baking pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes. The squash is cooked when it is slightly soft to the touch, but still somewhat firm.  You do not want to fully cook the squash as if you were making soup as the flesh will not hold well for the purpose of the salad and rather it would become pureed.

20131122-054323.jpgPeel the onions, cut in half and slice thinly.

20131122-054424.jpgHeat olive oil on medium high heat in a heavy cast iron pan and pour in the onions.  Reduce the heat to low. Mix well to coat them with the olive oil thoroughly. Simmer for about an hour, tossing periodically.

20131122-054531.jpgSeparate the stems from the lavender leaves.

20131122-070232.jpgChop the lavender leaves finely. Set aside.

20131122-131132.jpgChop the walnuts medium-coarse. Set aside.

20131122-131802.jpgRinse the kale carefully.  Gather the leaves together, with the stems on one end.  Cut off and discard the hard part of the stems and chop the leaves very finely.  Set aside.

20131122-132537.jpgMake a balsamic vinaigrette in a bowl large enough to contain the chopped kale. Whisk together the vinegar, salt and pepper.

20131122-150822.jpgAdd the olive oil in a stream slowly and continue whisking vigorously to transform the mixture into a well homogenized sauce. Set aside.

20131122-203927.jpgWhen the acorn squash is cooked, turn each half upside down to release the steam and let cool for handling.

20131122-204023.jpgPlacing each half of the acorn squash cut side down onto a cutting board, cut through the skin using a serrated knife into thick slices.

20131122-204158.jpgPeel each slice carefully.  Set aside.

20131122-204314.jpgBy now, the onions should have mostly caramelized. Add the walnuts to the pan and keep on low heat for a few minutes longer.

20131122-204413.jpgAdd the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan and turn off the heat.

20131122-204512.jpgPlace a few slices of acorn squash on each plate and brush a little bit of the vinaigrette on the top of each slice.

20131122-204601.jpgToss the sliced kale in the large bowl with the vinaigrette and display the kale around each acorn squash slice for presentation.

20131122-204943.jpgSprinkle with the caramelized onions and walnut mixture. Add the fresh lavender.  Enjoy!

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Cabbage and Mango Salad

Light and easy. Raw cabbage paired with fresh mango and dates in a citrus vinaigrette. Crisp, refreshing and sweet.

20130913-162719.jpg Perfect as an appetizer or side salad. The simplicity of the ingredients makes it simple to create and healthy to enjoy.

20130913-162839.jpgIngredients:
1/2 cabbage
1 mango
8 pitted dates
1 lemon
A few springs of basil
4-5 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground salt and cracked pepper

20130913-163138.jpgSlice the cabbage thinly.

20130913-163214.jpgThen chop it roughly.

20130913-163300.jpgCut the mango horizontally by laying it flat on a board lengthwise. Slide the knife on either side of the middle pit.

20130913-163337.jpgThen slice each half.

20130913-163432.jpgAnd remove the skin on each piece.

20130913-163609.jpgCube the slices.

20130913-194901.jpgMeanwhile in a large bowl, squeeze the lemon juice, and add salt and pepper.

20130913-194938.jpgAdd the olive oil.

20130913-195033.jpgWhisk all ingredients together until completely homogenized.

20130913-195114.jpgSlice the dates into small pieces.

20130913-195156.jpgChop the basil by laying one leave on top of another and thinly slicing.

20130913-195245.jpgAdd the cabbage to the bowl containing the citrus vinaigrette.

20130913-195327.jpgAdd all other ingredients.

20130913-195405.jpgCarefully mix well. Enjoy!

Green Peppers and Summer Tomatoes Salad

In our bright and sunny Ardèche summer days, my grandfather would come back from ‘le potager’ (vegetable garden) with the deliciously ripe tomatoes and green peppers he had just picked.
When I received the beautiful long and light colored green peppers and varieties of tomatoes from the farm this week, they reminded me of those Ardèche days and my memory was instantly bringing their flavors back to my taste buds. This is one of the simplest and easiest salads to prepare and most delicious so long as you have fresh farm ingredients.

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Some days we would add a few filets of anchovies to complete the plate. With or without the anchovies, the salad is full of flavors, with the crunchy freshness from the green pepper and the juicy sunshine bursting out of the ripe tomatoes.

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Ingredients:
4 slicer tomatoes
12 Juliet tomatoes
2 cups Sun Gold tomatoes
4 green peppers
A few springs fresh rosemary
12 anchovy filets (optional)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

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Slice the tomatoes thickly and evenly to form a bed on each plate.

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Core the green peppers, rinse them under running water to remove seeds.

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With a long and thin slicing knife, cut the inner white membranes being sure the leave the outer skin intact.

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Thinly slice the green pepper to create rings showing their outer shapes.

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Start to display sliced tomatoes and green peppers on plates.

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Quarter the Juliet tomatoes. Remove the stems of the Sun Gold tomatoes.

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Artfully arrange all the tomatoes on the plates.

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Remove the fresh and tender rosemary leaves from the stems.

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Chop them finely. Also chop the garlic.

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Place mustard, chopped rosemary, garlic, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Mix well together.

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Add vinegar and olive oil. Mix vigorously to fully incorporate all ingredients.

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Drizzle rosemary vinaigrette over the plates. Sprinkle with extra chopped rosemary.

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Add anchovies if using and enjoy!

Spicy Chickpea Herb Salad

The simplest and fastest to way to make a last minute picnic to go, quick meal for impromptu lunch guests, or side dish/salad to accompany a main dish.

20130705-212427.jpg This recipe includes a variety of herbs as we would use in the south of France for a flavorful meal and also some jalapeño in addition to the garlic for an additional kick the American way.

20130705-212511.jpgingredients:
2lbs cooked chickpeas (if dried, soak them the day before and cook them in salted boiling water)
1 orange pepper (I typically like using red but the red peppers at the market were not organic so I picked an organic one over the color)
1/4 jalapeño pepper
2 garlic cloves
A handful of each herbs: parsley, basil, chives, thyme
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsp grape seed oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper, about 1/4 tsp each
4-5 oz arugula

20130705-213407.jpgStart by mixing the salt, pepper and mustard.

20130705-215259.jpgAdd vinegar and mix well to dissolve mustard.

20130705-215341.jpgPrepare two garlic cloves and 1/4 jjalapeño pepper.

20130705-215428.jpgRemove the white lining and seeds from the jalapeño.

20130706-065736.jpgPeel garlic, slice in half and remove the inner part.

20130707-151744.jpgCrush the garlic and cut the jalapeño in thin stripes.

20130707-151835.jpgChop both finely.

20130707-151937.jpgAdd to the mustard and vinegar.

20130707-152034.jpgMix well and seaside.

20130707-152111.jpgGently remove the thyme leaves from the stems. set aside.

20130707-152153.jpgPrepare parsley leaves and basil leaves by removing the stems and clustering them together, stacking the basil leaves on top of one another.

20130707-152239.jpgChop all the herbs finely, including the chives, parsley and julienne the basil leaves. Set aside

20130707-152320.jpgPrepare the orange pepper by cutting it in half, remove the stem, further cut into quarters and remove the inner white skin and seeds.

20130707-152541.jpgSlice each quarter into strips and dice.

20130707-152647.jpgAdd the grape seed oil to the vinaigrette.

20130707-152741.jpgMix in the orange pepper and let marinate a few minutes.

20130707-152823.jpgAdd the chickpeas and herbs.

20130707-152907.jpgMix thoroughly. The salad can be prepared ahead at this time and refrigerated.

20130707-153007.jpgBefore serving, add arugula. If taking on a picnic pack arugula separately and add at last minute.

20130707-153156.jpgMix the arugula with the other ingredients to ensure it is well coated with the vinaigrette.

20130707-153245.jpgTo serve as a lunch meal, you might add some avocado

20130707-153345.jpgor heirloom tomatoes. Enjoy!

Pomegranate, Avocado and Brussels Sprouts salad

20130511-131448.jpg A quick, simple, colorful salad to present as an appetizer or side dish. Healthful with a combination of raw Brussels sprouts, avocado, pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts, in a singular lemon vinaigrette.

20130511-131730.jpg Ingredients:
2 lbs Brussels sprouts
1/2 pomegranate
1/2 avocado
3/4 cup pine nuts
1-2 Tbsp savory or thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

20130511-131910.jpgWash the Brussels sprouts and cut off the stem ends to remove the outer leaves. Place in a large salad bowl.

20130511-131951.jpgKeep cutting off the stems another two-three times, each time removing more leaves and getting to the inner leaves.

20130511-132030.jpgEventually, you will be left with the hearts of the Brussels sprouts.

20130511-132114.jpg Slice the Brussels sprouts hearts thinly.
Personally I like using a classic 7-inch Santuko knife for almost everything. I find it most versatile and easy to maneuver with precision.

20130511-132228.jpg Add the thinly sliced pieces to the large, beautiful leaves in the bowl.

20130511-132306.jpg Cut the half avocado horizontally, then in thick vertical slices, and finally, cut more thick vertical slices perpendicularly. This way you will have ‘cubes’ of avocado. Add to the salad bowl.

20130511-132354.jpg Cut the pomegranate in half with a knife, vertically.

20130511-132429.jpgWorking with half the pomegranate and placing it over the salad bowl, pick the skin on the sides to expose a cluster of seeds in between the white membranes. This way you can easily detach each individual seed. Be gentle, as the seeds can be crushed and burst.

20130511-132720.jpgKeep assembling the salad this way, adding the pure and fresh ingredients one after the other.

20130511-132516.jpg Measure the raw pine nuts.

20130511-132624.jpg Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium low – low heat. This is the tricky part of preparing this dish as you must devote your attention to this task only at this time. It might seem slow at first, but just watch and occasionally toss the nuts around as they slowly begin to turn golden brown. The darker they become, the more intense the nutty flavor they develop, but they should not burn.

20130511-132809.jpgThe moment they are ready, stop the heat and transfer to a room temperature dish. This is the crucial moment where a few extra seconds will burn the nuts. The oil content of the pine nuts is high, and once they reach a certain temperature it is just a matter of seconds before they burn.20130511-132857.jpgPrepare a light lemon vinaigrette by placing the savory or thyme leaves, in a small bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

20130511-133029.jpg Pour the vinaigrette and toasted pine nuts over the salad and toss all the ingredients well and gently. Enjoy!

Root Celery and Grapefruit Salad with Fennel and Avocado

A refreshing blend of root vegetables and tangy citrus. Colorful, crisp and appealing, this salad can be served as an appetizer, or at the end of a meal as a finishing note.

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This dish is prepared in the juices of the grapefruit and requires no additional seasoning, simply dressed with the fennel tips. It contains no fats, no salt and is naturally healthy.

20130331-154647.jpg Ingredients:
1 root celery
1 grapefruit
1/2 fennel bulb
1 avocado

Tools:
Mandolin
Serrated knife
Paring knife

20130331-171932.jpg Peel the root celery, making sure to remove all the ripples with a pairing knife until you obtain a smooth surface. Place it firmly on the prongs of the mandolin holder. Fit the mandolin with the smooth blade on the narrower setting.

20130331-172111.jpg Slice the root celery in paper thin disks.

20130331-172210.jpg Prepare the half fennel bulb the same way and set aside.

20130331-172307.jpg Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scrape the whole half of the avocado out of its skin with a spoon. Slice each half thinly.

20130331-172816.jpg You can start to assemble the plates by displaying the celeriac slices in an overlapping fashion. Add a few slices of the avocado.

20130331-172911.jpg Prepare the grapefruit by cutting the outer skin around it with a serrated knife all the way down to the flesh. Cut all the way around until the grapefruit flesh is entirely exposed.

20130403-184614.jpg Place the knife by the inner membrane to slice down to the core of the grapefruit.

20130403-184735.jpg Continue cutting on either side of the membranes to free the individual sections of the grapefruit.

20130403-184830.jpgPlace a few slices on top of the celeriac on each plate.

20130403-184850.jpg Arrange a few ribbons of the fennel bulb on top.

20130403-184915.jpg Add a few tips from the fennel branches and squeeze the juices that remain in the inner part of the grapefruit over the celeriac.

20130403-185102.jpg That’s it! Enjoy!