kale salad

May 182016
 

Kale and Spring Vegetable Salad

 

Kale is one of my favourite green leaves to put into a salad because you can pre-toss it in dressing and it won’t get limp for days. My general method with most kale salads is to massage the kale leaves by chopping them and then squeezing them between my hands for about three minutes. It makes a world of a difference because the relaxed kale leaves become softer and more flavourful.

 

These days, I’m tossing my kale salads with roasted spring vegetables. Any three vegetables that roast well would work in this recipe, but do try and look for different coloured vegetables to get the most variety. Here I used carrots, leeks and beetroots. I’m using some irresistibly cute mini vegetables which I found in my market, but if you can’t use mini-sized vegetables feel free to use the regular-sized ones and simply cut them into bite-sized chunks.

 

 

Kale and Spring Vegetable Salad

 

Dressing ingredients:

5 Tbsp EVOO

2½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Good pinch of sea salt

 

Salad ingredients:

1 bunch of kale (about 8 large leaves)

400g baby carrots

400g baby leeks

200g baby beetroot

Nuts (optional, for garnishing)

Extra virgin olive oil for roasting the vegetables

Sea salt for roasting the vegetables

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400C.
  2. Wash, peel and trim the carrots. If they are baby carrots, cut them in half lengthwise. If they are regular sized carrots, cut them into generous bite-size pieces.
  3. Remove the outside layer of the leeks and trim off the top and bottom. Wash well. If you are using baby leeks, leave them whole. If you are using regular sized leeks, cut them into large chunks.
  4. In a medium-sized baking dish, add the carrots and leeks and toss them with 2-3 Tbsp of EVOO and a generous pinch of sea salt. Roast them for around 30 minutes until nicely caramelised, tossing once halfway through cooking. When they are ready, remove them from the oven and allow to cool.
  5. To roast the beetroots, first wash the skin and cut off the leaves at the top. Wrap in two layers of aluminum foil and place on a baking tray. Roast them for around 1 hour (or until a skewer goes easily through the beetroot). When they are ready, open the foil and allow them to cool. Once cool, pinch off their skin with your fingers and cut into bite-sized cubes.
  6. While everything is roasting, you can prepare the kale by removing the leaves from the thick stalks down the center. Discard the stalks.
  7. Wash and dry the kale leaves, then roughly chop them.
  8. Place the chopped kale in a large bowl and massage it by squeezing it between your hands for 3 minutes (set the timer). This will make the kale softer and more tasty, and in my opinion is a necessary step for any raw kale salad.
  9. Toss the massaged kale with all the dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  10. Add the carrots, leeks and beetroots and toss well.
  11. Scatter some nuts on top for garnish (they can be added at this point or just prior to serving).
  12. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
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Jan 132016
 

Tuscan Kale and Bread Salad

 

Strictly speaking, a recipe for ‘Tuscan Kale and Bread Salad’ should be made with Tuscan kale. But I bent the rule with this one by using Curly kale instead as it is the only type of kale I have come across in Dubai. However, in keeping with the Tuscan theme, I have used other traditional Tuscan ingredients in this salad such as dried bread, cannelini beans, tomatoes and cheese.

 

Tuscan kale (also called lacinato kale or dinosaur kale) is a variety of kale which has long flat dark green textured leaves and is slightly less tough and bitter than the more common Curly kale.

 

As with all kale salads, make sure that you remove the stalks and massage the leaves with your hands for 2-3 minute to soften them and release their flavour (technique described in step 2 of the recipe directions below).

 

 

Tuscan Kale and Bread Salad

 

 

TUSCAN KALE and BREAD SALAD
(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated on the fine side of a grater

1 tsp coarse sea salt

 

Salad Ingredients:

100g / 3.5 oz kale leaves (weight of leaves without the stalks)

1 tin cannellini/fagioli beans (235g / 8 oz drained weight)

10 cherry tomatoes (about 120g / 4 oz)

Wedge of parmesan or pecorino cheese (according to taste)

2-3 slices of good bread (avoid ciabatta and focaccia as they are too rich for this purpose)

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare your salad dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients well in a jar. The amount of garlic you use should depend on how strong your garlic cloves are and how much you like to eat raw garlic. Cover and set the jar aside.
  2. Remove the long stalks which run along the length of your kale leaves. Wash and dry the leaves well, and then thinly shred them. To make the kale leaves softer and more tasty, I recommend ‘massaging’ them. Do this by putting the shredded kale leaves in a large bowl and squeezing the leaves on your hands for 3-4 minutes. This will soften their tough texture and release more flavour from the leaf. Massaged kale keeps well in the fridge for several days, so it’s often worth preparing a larger amount of leaves than you need so that you can keep dipping into it throughout the week.
  3.  Drain and rinse 1 tin of cannellini beans (or use freshly cooked beans). Place the beans in a large bowl.
  4. Add the kale to the large bowl and toss with the beans.
  5. Add the salad dressing and toss well to evenly coat the kale and beans.
  6. Slice your cherry tomatoes in half and throw them on top of the salad.
  7. Shave some fresh parmesan cheese on top of the salad (the amount should depend on your own taste). You may want to shave a little extra parmesan to garnish the top of the salad before serving.
  8. Toss everything loosely. The salad can be kept in the refrigerator like this for upto 3 days before serving.
  9. Prepare your bread by toasting some slices in a toaster until they are crisp but not burnt. After they have been toasted, allow them to sit in the toaster for 5 minutes to cool and dry out a bit. Once dry, tear them into bite-size pieces by hand. Keep the bread separate from the salad until you are ready to serve otherwise the bread will get soggy.
  10. To serve, re-toss the salad if it has been refrigerated for a while. Spread it on a platter and garnish with some extra parmesan shavings and the toasted bread.

 

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Nov 212015
 

Roasted Carrot, Chickpea and Kale Salad

 

Autumn is all about roasted vegetable salads for me. Most vegetables can be roasted successfully at 200°C/400°F tossed with olive oil and sea salt. You can really grab any vegetable and roast it – carrots, turnips, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, radishes, and the list goes on. The roasting time will depend on a variety of factors including the type of vegetable you use and the size it is cut, and can be anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour.

 

Since they are all cooked at the same temperature, you can put several dishes of different vegetables in the oven at the same time so that in one go you have enough roasted vegetables to make several different salads. I find most roasted vegetables last well in the refrigerator for three days. And if you by the end of three days you find that you haven’t used up all your roasted vegetables, simply blend whatever is left over with some hot stock to make a delicious roasted vegetable soup.

 

Join the conversation: What’s your favourite autumn vegetable to roast?

 

Roasted Carrot, Chickpea and Kale Salad

 

Roasted Carrot, Chickpea and Kale Salad

 

Dressing:

5 Tbsp EVOO

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

 

Carrots:

600g / 21 0z carrots (orange or rainbow coloured), cut into batons

200g / 7 oz red onion

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2 Tbsp EVOO

1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds

1/2 tsp ground or whole cumin seeds

1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust according to taste)

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

 

Rest of Salad:

2 cups / 50g / 1.7 oz massaged kale (weight without stalks)

1 tin chickpeas (240g drained weight of chickpeas)

1 cup chopped cilantro/coriander leaves (40g / 1.4 oz with stalks or 20g / 0.4 oz without stalks)

100g / 3.5 oz feta cheese, crumbled

 

Directions:

  1. To make the salad dressing: Combine all the dressing ingredients together in a jar, shake well and set aside.
  2. To make the carrots: Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Wash and peel your carrots. Cut them into batons, about 3-4 inches long. In an oven-proof dish, toss the carrot batons with the rest of the ingredients listed under carrots (above). Cut a red onion into bite-size wedges and toss with the carrots and spices in the oven-proof dish. Roast in the oven until caramelised, around 20-30 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. To make  the rest of the salad, put 2 cups of washed and chopped kale in a bowl and massage it by squeezing it in your hands for 3-4 minutes until it is slightly wilted. This releases more flavour from the kale and makes it softer to eat raw. Add the chickpeas and chopped cilantro/coriander leaves. Add the dressing and toss well.
  4. Add the roasted carrots and onions to the salad and toss evenly.
  5. Add the crumbled feta and toss lightly.
  6. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within 3 days.

 

Join the conversation: What’s your favourite autumn vegetable to roast?

 

 

 

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Mar 052015
 


Circle Cafe

 


Total Salads’ verdict: Circle Café is an excellent place for anyone who loves salads. They have an impressive salad menu with 23 salads to choose between and very generous portions. The salads here are not just an afterthought tacked onto the menu – they are creative, well-balanced and varied. Circle Café has thought of everything – the salads are chopped which makes them easier to eat, the salad dressing is served on the side in little jugs so that diners can control how much dressing they want to use, and almost all of their salads have some kind of protein component to make them filling and satisfying meals. They also have plenty of gluten-free options clearly marked on the menu. Circle Café adjusts its menu every 6 months, which allows them to keep on top of the latest health trends and also to keep their food seasonal (the next menu change is due in April 2015). With 23 salads on their menu, there are at least 23 good reasons to eat at Circle Café. 

 

Restaurant: Circle Café

 

Location: I visited the Jumeirah Beach Park Plaza branch in Dubai. Circle Café currently has several branches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. They also offer delivery and take-away services.

 

Price Range: Salads are priced from AED35 to AED54 (you can add your favorite superfood seeds for AED3 – flax, pumpkin, sunflower). Fresh smoothies and juices are priced from AED26-AED28. They have a delicious fruit salad for AED20.


 

VENUE

 

Circle Cafe

 

There is no denying it – Circle Café is a warm and welcoming place to sit and eat. It’s like going over to your friend’s house for lunch – if your friend has really good eclectic taste in interior design. I don’t know about you, but I have my eye on that large distressed wooden table (pictured above), although I don’t think I could sneak that out without being noticed.

 

Circle Café’s atmosphere is inviting thanks to their well thought out and beautifully decorated space. There are some nice rough organic surfaces like the aforementioned large distressed wood table and slate chalkboards with little messages scribbled on them. There is a ladder in one corner masquerading as a bookshelf and another wall is dedicated to books.

 

These homely features are counter-balanced well with bright white chairs and tables scattered amongst the more rustic elements of the cafe. There is also a huge wall of glass on one side facing the sea with lots of natural light flooding the room. It just works – it makes you want to sit and take your time. It’s the type of place where you will order one extra coffee just to find an excuse to stay a little longer.

 

Earlier this week, I was invited to come to Circle Café to try their salads and to go behind the scenes into their kitchen with Executive Chef Kamal to learn his tips and tricks for making a delicious salad.

 

 

BEHIND THE SCENES – A COOKING LESSON WITH EXECUTIVE CHEF KAMAL

 

Circle Cafe

 

The cooking lesson began with me putting on a hairnet and some gloves (good for hygiene, bad for photos!).

 

Chef Kamal has been working at Circle Café for 3 years and puts a lot of thought into each of the salads he creates. For my salad-making lesson, I was looking forward to making the Kale Salad and The Family Salad. Here are some tips and tricks which I picked up while making salads with the Chef.

 

– Prepare your ingredients in advance: Preparation is the key to being able to pull together an interesting salad quickly. This means washing, chopping and roasting your ingredients in advance. As soon as I saw the salad area in the kitchen, I could tell that a fair amount of time had been spent getting all the ingredients prepped for the day. Restaurants will prepare ingredients fresh every day, but for us home cooks we can keep our prepared ingredients in the refrigerator and dip into them throughout the week. Washed lettuce stays fresh for several days in the refrigerator in a crisper or wrapped in kitchen towels. Most hardy vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers can be washed and stored in the refrigerator as well. Roasting vegetables may seem like a hassle, but it’s very easy and they stay fresh in the refrigerator for several days after cooking. You simply need to chop them, toss them in olive oil and salt, and roast them at 200C/400F for 20-60 minutes (depending on what you are roasting and the size of the pieces).

 

– People like salads to be chopped: Yes, it’s true – people like their salads like to be chopped. Follow Circle Café’s example and chop your ingredients into bite-size pieces or smaller. No one wants to tuck into a salad and grapple with an oversized lettuce leaf. Chopping makes your salad easier to eat and also allows each bite to be slightly different as various combinations of ingredients make it onto your fork each time. Some ingredients, like avocado and cheese, should only be chopped at the last minute.

 

– Organization will save you time: Circle Café’s salad area is very well organised, with all the ingredients laid out in separate containers. At home, make sure that once you’ve prepared your ingredients, you organise them into separate containers and bowls in the refrigerator for easy access.

 

– Increase the nutritional value by adding seeds: Circle Café gives diners the option to add superfood seeds into their salad for a nutritional boost. For home cooks, remember that a salad is a great place to toss a handful of nutritious seeds. Nuts and dried fruit are also great options.

 

– Add protein to make a salad more filling: I noticed that all of the salads on Circle Café’s menu (except for one) had some form of protein in it. Protein is what turns a salad from a nice side dish to a delicious filling main meal. Sources of protein include cheese, quinoa, beans, seafood, chicken and meat.

 

– Have an amazing dressing: Even the dullest salad can be lifted with a great salad dressing. Here are two delicious salad dressing recipes shared by Chef Kamal: Dijonette Dressing and Italian Balsamic Dressing (recipes below).

 

Circle Cafe

 

Chef Kamal’s Dijonette Dressing

Blend all these ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth:

750ml virgin olive oil

100ml lemon juice

250ml water

150g Dijon mustard

40g chopped raw onion

10g salt

2g pepper

 

 

Chef Kamal’s Italian Balsamic Dressing

Blend all these ingredients in a blender or food processor or shake in a jar with a lid:

750ml virgin olive oil

250ml balsamic vinegar

10g salt

2g pepper

 

 

THE FOOD

 

Circle Cafe

Fresh juices

Circle Café has lots of healthy options on their menu. They have a variety of fresh smoothies and juices to suit any mood. We started off by ordering some vibrant colorful juices (AED26-28) (clockwise from top): Orange, Go Green (apple, cucumber, celery, mint), Good Day (carrot, ginger, orange), and Kale Lemonade (kale, ginger, apple, lemon juice).

 

Circle Café has an impressive list of 23 salads on their menu, each one very different from the next. It was difficult for me to choose which ones to try because I wanted to try them all, so I left the decision up to the Chef. He chose two popular salads: Kale Salad and The Family Salad. Both were very fresh, varied and creative. The Kale Salad was delicious but for me The Family Salad had the edge thanks to the grilled chicken and Burrata cheese (it was so tasty that I almost didn’t need to add the salad dressing).

 

www.TotalSalads.com

Kale Salad

Kale Salad (AED48) has kale, rocca leaves, avocado, roasted pumpkin, goat cheese and walnuts with Dijonette dressing.

 

 

Circle Cafe

The Family Salad

The Family Salad (AED 46) has mixed lettuce, rocca, roasted pumpkin, beetroot, Burrata cheese and grilled chicken with Italian balsamic dressing.

 

 

Circle Cafe

Rosewater Pomegranate Lychee Salad

Fruit salads are where a lot of restaurants lose points, but Circle Café’s Rosewater Pomegranate Lychee Salad was beautiful, creative, delicious and modern. This generous portion of exotic fruits came in a fragrant light juice with ice cubes and blanched almonds for some added crunch and was beautifully presented in a jar.

 

SHARE YOUR OPINION: If you have eaten at Circle Café, share your experience in the comment section below. 

 

 

TOTAL SALADS’ FINAL VERDICT

Circle Café is an excellent place for anyone who loves salads. They have an impressive salad menu with 23 salads to choose between and very generous portions. The salads here are not just an afterthought tacked onto the menu – they are creative, well-balanced and varied. Circle Café has thought of everything – the salads are chopped which makes them easier to eat, the salad dressing is served on the side in little jugs so that each diner can control how much dressing she wants to use, and all of their salads have some kind of protein component to make them filling and satisfying meals. They also have plenty of gluten-free options clearly marked on the menu. Circle Café adjusts its menu every 6 months, which allows them to keep on top of the latest health trends and also to keep their food seasonal (the next menu change is due in April 2015). With 23 salads on their menu, there are at least 23 good reasons to eat at Circle Café.

 

 

Full disclosure: I was invited to Circle Café with one guest. All content reflects my honest opinion. 

 

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