Tag Archives: parmesan

Kale and Cabbage Slaw with Roasted Shallot Dressing

DSC_5326A few months back, Mr. K and I went to get a second opinion regarding our fertility situation.  We had been through four rounds of IVF over the last 2 ½ years, and we were frustrated about not getting any clear answers from our current fertility doctor.  We braced ourselves in the waiting room.  I pulled out a square of dark chocolate, popped it into my mouth and focused on that until our names were called.  The meeting went by quickly.  The fertility doctor was warm and yet very direct:  we had a 5% chance of success at best if we were to do another round of IVF.

You hear stories all the time about fertility issues tearing couples apart.  They shutdown, pull away from each other, resentment builds, and divorce is imminent.  In our case, strangely enough, I think the opposite happened.  Throughout this horrendous, heartbreaking process we’ve actually grown closer and become stronger as a couple.  On the one hand I think, perhaps we were just lucky–although we both agreed that we wanted to have a child, it didn’t define our relationship or our future together.  And yet I remember having several discussions with my husband about the possibility that we wouldn’t be able to conceive and what that would mean for us.  What would our future look like?  What would give our lives meaning?  Could we still be happy?  Over the last year or so, as we considered this outcome to be more of a possibility, we decided we would use this experience as fuel to lead full and significant lives.  We will travel so much more!  All over the world!  Buy a home in Tuscany while our friends tend to their screaming toddlers!
DSC_5311As we walked home from our appointment, I turned to Mr. K and asked him how he was feeling now that we knew for sure.  I was prepared for him to be sad.  Of the two of us, he felt more strongly about having children.  He turned to me and said, “Actually, kind of relieved.  Now we know for sure.”  And with those words, 2 ½ years of hormonal mood swings, countless painful injections, and a nightmare hospitalization all melted away.  I also felt relieved.  And it felt so euphoric to be so relieved!  In fact, I became so giddy about our news that I started to question how our lives might have went had we actually been able to have children:  we would be raising a child until we were in our late 50’s!  We immediately began talking about what we wanted this next year to look like.  We were ecstatic that we had come out the other side, thrilled to be with each other.

When I first came across this recipe, I knew it had potential to be delicious, but I was focused more on the healthiness of it.  I was in dire need of a salad post-Christmas gluttony, and I thought this would do the trick.  Well, I ate this every day for 10 days straight.  That’s how good it is.  The roasted shallot dressing, in particular, is magical.
DSC_5316Kale and Cabbage Slaw with Roasted Shallot Dressing
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

3 cups diced butternut squash
1 tbsp. olive oil
pinch of salt, smoked paprika and cinnamon

2 bunches Tuscan kale
1/2 head red cabbage
1/2 small red onion
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup grated parmesan
3/4 cup toasted pecan pieces

Roasted Shallot Dressing
2 small or 1 large roasted shallot*
handful fresh chopped chives
1/4-1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. each sea salt and ground pepper

*Roast a shallot like you would a head of garlic.  Trim the end, toss it (skin on) in a little olive oil and pinch of salt, wrap it in foil and place in oven for 45 minutes until softened and caramelized.  Time will vary by size of the shallot(s).  Remove to cool to the touch before squishing it out of its skin.

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the butternut cubes with the olive oil, salt, smoked paprika and cinnamon to coat.  Spread in an even layer and bake for 20 minutes until just tender but not mushy.  Set aside to cool completely.
3.  In a blender or food processor, mix all the dressing ingredients together until smooth.
4.  Stem the kale and chop it ultra thin.
5.  Using a mandolin or knife, shave or chop the red cabbage and onion.  Collect these items in a large salad bowl.
6.  Add the raisins, parmesan and pecans, drizzle desired amount of dressing and toss to coat.  The kale and cabbage can handle sitting in the dressing for 10 minutes before serving.

Braised White Beans and Leeks

DSC_4501I made it to yoga this morning.  It was a small achievement in my day.  I went a couple of weeks ago for the first time in almost a year, and it was a less than satisfying experience.  I couldn’t believe how hard the moves felt compared to a year ago.  I struggled with every pose, my legs shaking like jello.  And because I mistakenly placed my mat towards the front of the room like a confident person (fake it till you make it, right?), I felt everyone’s eyes on me.  In my mind they, along with the instructor, were judging me and wondering why I thought I could do this.  This was an “open” class and the instructor stated that if we weren’t comfortable doing a pose to simply return to a pose that we were more comfortable with.  I did ok until the last 15 minutes, when the instructor led us into poses meant for Olympic athletes.  Everyone in the class seemed to have no problem contorting their bodies into strange and incredibly difficult poses.  I immediately felt like a failure for not being able to do any of them.  I returned to child’s pose and felt the shame wash over my body.  I had recently made a pact with myself to start doing yoga on a weekly basis.  Walking home after class, I knew it was going to be a struggle to return the following week.
DSC_4491I’m reading a book about fear right now.  The author’s thesis is that no matter what our fear is, it is rooted in the belief that we won’t be able to handle whatever it is that we fear.  So whether it’s facing the death of a loved one, unemployment, or a divorce, we are supposed to repeat the mantra, “I can handle this!” and then move forward in life impervious to said fears.  Alas, I skipped yoga the following week.  It was a tough week.  Despite this, or because of this, I should have made more of an effort to attend my yoga class.  Regardless, I made some mental readjustments over the weekend and was determined to do yoga this week.  I didn’t want one class to scare me away.  Walking to class this morning, I told myself to try and utilize the mindfulness aspect of the class instead of focusing simply on my strength, or lack thereof.  My legs still shook during certain poses, but I concentrated more on my breathing and simply staying mindful.  This time, instead of shame washing over my body during my last pose, I felt a sense of calm and stillness.  It was nice.  I did get distracted a few times by the instructor.  I found myself mesmerized by her voice, so much so that I found myself wondering if she does voiceover work.  I think I’ve lived in New York too long.  As I approached the steps to my apartment, an older man came walking up to me.  Angrily, he shouted, “I hate Astoria!  I would rather live in Puerto Rico any day than this shithole.  I hate this place.”  I shrugged at him and inserted my key into the lock.  I wasn’t going to let this random guy ruin my Zen state.
DSC_4497Seeing as this winter is never going to end (I heard NYC has had 18 snowstorms so far this winter!), I have been trying to balance my cravings for hearty food with healthy alternatives.  This recipe falls into both categories.  It’s pretty darn healthy and still a satisfying, substantial winter dish.  After taking my first bite, it reminded me of both a cheesy, herbaceous goulash and French onion soup.  I licked the spoon like it contained brownie batter and not white beans and leeks.  The original recipe called for dried cannellini beans, but I simplified it by substituting canned beans.  The result was a fast and easy recipe that would be perfect for a weeknight meal when you don’t have a lot of time but you want something rib-sticking good.

Braised White Beans and Leeks
Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen

1-15 oz. can cannellini beans
3 large leeks
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 celery stalks, divided
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Arrange a rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
2.  Trim the leeks, discarding the tough green tops, halve vertically, and rinse in cold water, making sure to clean out any dirt trapped between the layers.  Slice into thin half circles.
3.  In a large Dutch oven or heavy skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil.  Add the celery, garlic, and leeks and cook until the vegetables are softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
4.  Add the beans, thyme, herbes de Provence, red pepper flakes to taste, salt and pepper.
5.  Stir in the vegetable broth and bring the mixture back up to a gentle boil.  Cook for approximately 25 minutes or until almost all of the liquid is gone.
6.  Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan on top of the bean mixture and place the pot in the oven, leaving the lid off.  Cook until the cheese is completely melted and brown in spots, 8-10 minutes.  Serve warm.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms with Sage Polenta

DSC_4356It’s official:  I have been watching too much television lately.  I usually hunker down for the winter, staying indoors even more than usual, and my television viewing increases by default.  However, in the past I would listen to music or a podcast when in the kitchen.  But I have recently taken to watching non-stop episodes of Chopped.  I am obsessed.  And with the fast-forwarding function of our DVR, I’ve discovered that you can watch an episode in all of 40 minutes!  But all of that fast-forwarding has affected my brain:  I woke up this morning with a pounding headache and before I opened my eyes, all I could see were a million images flashing before me like my brain was on automatic fast-forward.  I tried using a meditation technique of calming my mind and focusing on my breathing, hoping that that would make it go away.  It didn’t stop.  The only way I could get the flashing images to stop was to open my eyes.  It was 4:30 a.m.  I was too tired to read so I got out of bed and decided to turn on, you guessed it, another episode of Chopped.  Is this what it feels like to be a drug addict??  And yes, I am comparing heroine to television.

By the time my husband woke up, my headache had receded.  As I robotically made my Dunn Bros. coffee, I told him I needed to try abstaining from technology for a day, or maybe just television.  I need to start meditating again, at the very least to counterbalance all of the constant information being absorbed by my brain via the television, internet, social media, etc.  Well, readers, I will have you know that it is 4:45 p.m. and I have not turned the television on all day!  This feels like such an accomplishment.  (Is this what it feels like to get old?)  Of course, when my husband arrives home tonight we will go through our usual routine of watching an episode of Jeopardy.  He is, after all, practicing to be a contestant (and champion) one day in the near future.  He is going to be the first person to beat Ken Jennings’ record!!  And I’ll be in the audience cheering him on.
DSCF2902 I don’t think polenta gets enough love.  I think of it as a poor man’s risotto, but I love it, nonetheless.  In the past, I’d only eaten it with meat or fish.  But this recipe with roasted Brussels sprouts and mushrooms sounded perfect for a cold winter day.  The polenta itself is combined with parmigiano-reggiano cheese and sage, which gives it a nice earthy flavor.  I actually whipped this dish up for lunch; it came together in no time at all.  You can substitute your favorite vegetables if you aren’t a fan of Brussels sprouts, but try to leave the mushrooms in if you can—they add a nice umami flavor to the dish.

Stay warm out there, East Coasters!
DSC_4338Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms with Sage Polenta
Adapted from Oh My Veggies

Yield:  4 servings

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
4 oz. crimini mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups water
1 cup instant polenta
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.  Toss the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
3.  Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.
4.  While the veggies are roasting, bring water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Reduce the heat to low and slowly whisk in the polenta.  Continue to whisk constantly until the polenta is thickened, about 3 minutes.
5.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of Parmesan, sage, and salt and pepper to taste.
6.  Divide the polenta into 4 bowls and top each with 1/4 of the roasted vegetables and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.