What else can I do with my pesto?

20130520-115842.jpgNow that you know how to make pesto with all the leafy greens you are getting this spring, what else can you do with the pesto? I love making “bread salad” out of old hard rustic bread.  This bread salad is also known as panzanella.  It is super easy and tastes amazing. Basically you will take hard bread and cut it up into cubes and then essentially toss it all together with lots of olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes and cheese, along with anything else your hear desires!

 

Step 1.  Cut into cubes or chunks your hardened and dried/crusty bread

Step 2.  Dice tomatoes, cheese (I prefer mozzarella), herbs, veggies, etc

Step 3.  I throw it all into a bowl and coat with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add salt and pepper

Step 4.  Add any lettuces, arugula, spinach etc.

Step 5.  I added my swiss chard pesto

Step 6.  Add herbs, garlic, nuts etc to taste

Step 7.  Toss it all together with the bread and let sit until bread becomes soft and close to soggy.

You can add the oil and vinegar as you wish to the texture that you want.

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Finished Panzanella or bread salad is below.

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Baked Kale

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notice how it looks like fallen leaves in the fall?

In keeping with the kale theme, I thought I would take just a moment to post how I do my baked kale.  I really do not see any possible way to mess this up, but here is how I have done it.

Wash your kale and then spin it dry or pat dry with paper towels.  cut off the leaves and get rid of the thick vein down the middle.  I would suggest leaving the leaves as large as possible as they will be easier to eat once baked.

Take the leaves and toss them liberally with olive oil.  Sprinkle with whatever seasoning you desire.  Like potato chips, the kale chips will take the taste of anything you put on them.  I do kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder. 

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Grease your pan with a spray or a olive oil brush.  You do not want the kale to stick or it will ruin it when you go to remove it from the cookie sheet.

Bake in your oven at 350 degrees for about 8-15 minutes.  I have done this 3 times now and have not used a timer and have never stopped to look at how long it takes, but you will know they are done by the change in color, they will go from a glossy wet look to a dryer and crispy look.  If you are not sure, get a thin spatula and slide it under them.  If it feels like a fall leaf dried on the gound, you are done!

My kids absolutely love these and I am sure it is because they think they are little animals eating leaves.  They always tell me, “dad, can you make those leaf chips?”  They devour them.  What more could you ask for? 

Please give these a try, kale is hearty, cheap and readily available at all local farmers markets or your local CSA.

Chopped Salads are the Best

For the past few years I have love getting chopped salads when I go out.  My two favorite chopped salads are the Ruth’s Chris chopped salad and the chopped salad at Mastros.  By the way, Mastros has to be the best steak house ever and if you are ever near one, GO!  Get whatever you want, it is all good, but you must get the butter cake for dessert.

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Anyway, I wished more places served chopped salads and I would bet more will start.  So the basic idea of a chopped salad is taking whatever ingredients you want, and chopping them into small pea sized pieces.  You want to even dice or cut up your lettuces.  You know what shredded iceburg lettuce looks like from the bag?  That is what I did with my spinach (cut it like a chiffonade) and my arugala. So I started with my greens base.

Ingredients:

iceburg, arugala and spinach all shredded or chiffonaded.

Cucumbers diced into pea sized chunks (fresh green peas would have been good if still in season also!)

Grilled yellow and red peppers (also in pea sized bites, get the picture?)

grilled yellow squash

red onion

cremini mushrooms

tons of fresh herbs (I used basil, chives and thyme)  I grinded mine in this cool tool that my wife bought me.  I think she saw it on Oprah.

croutons

feta cheese

crisp bacon bits (fresh of course!)

So you basically take all your ingredients, and feel free to mix it up and add more.  Ideas: celery, tomatoes, almonds, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, olives, cheeses etc.

You will want to use a light and preferably home made vinaigrette.  My wife made a great one out of herbs, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and some lime juice.  Here is a link to a good one.