“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people can still plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.” – Michael Pollan
I had the chance to visit our local farm a few weeks ago. A few acres just on the outskirts of town that are used for growing organic heirloom crops and cared for by the most humble of couples. You can read my full article about it here but I thought the experience deserved to live in this space as well. I’ve talked about our move west before, about my apprehensions that we were once again starting from scratch, about my rush to feel settled and about how, no matter what, food can always make you feel at home. Now that one whole season has almost come and gone I can finally say that we are finding our feet. And I can say for certain that a lot of that has to do with the people we’ve been lucky to cross paths with in just a short time. Shared passions are an inspiring thing, you guys. It’s what keep this space, and maybe your blog too, alive and worthwhile. Doing what you love and having the opportunity to revel in that with people who love it too, it makes us feel connected to something bigger. That’s a feeling I often find myself searching for. It makes me feel alive – like I am a positive participating body in this otherwise crazy world. And, through all the learning and the frustrations and the triumphs – it is what keeps me coming back here, to this blog, and to be with you too. So I visited the farm and I was once again honored to meet people who also believe that there is another way. That the food choices we make every day do actually have a big impact. These meetings continue to bring me back down to earth. They say #knowyourfarmer, well these are two people that I am happy to know.
I always have a tough time saying goodbye to July, it’s so hard to believe that half of summer is already behind us. We’re moving into the start of harvest season here, and the next few weeks are sure to be bountiful. This salad is a celebration of all that is summer; juicy tomatoes, sweet stone fruit, crowd pleasing corn and everlasting kale. Do your best to seek out fresh, local produce as it will take this salad from good to great. Quick shout out to a few canadian options for that beloved quinoa of ours, here and here. The dressing is made from roasted shallot and garlic and red wine vinegar and just a touch of sweetness and it is just right. It’s what keeps me coming back for more. And, as most things worth celebrating, this one is best when shared.
SUMMER CELEBRATION KALE AND QUINOA SALAD WITH ROASTED SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE
This salad celebrates so much of summer’s sunny glory. Juicy cherry tomatoes, sweet stone fruit, the beginning of corn season and the everlasting kale. I find when making kale salads, the size of the kale is directly correlated to the number of people who like the salad. Big, chunky bits of dry kale – no one is really into that and I can’t blame them. Small bits of kale surrounded with sweet roasted cherry tomatoes, salty feta and crunchy seeds – now that’s something people can get into! So my tip is to take time your when chopping kale, chop finely and make sure to remove any hard stems.
The tomatoes, quinoa, and corn can all be prepared ahead of time. Keeping ready-to-go ingredients in the fridge make summer meals a lot easier and allows for more time outside enjoying the sun, which is really what this season is all about! Seek out fresh produce from the farmer’s whenever you can.
Serves 2-3 as a main, 4 as a side, more as a potluck. Double quantities if needed. For a vegan version use Laura’s delicious almond feta. It’s a winner.
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water or broth
1 + 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 medium shallot
1 clove of garlic
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, taste
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (from one small ear of corn)
2 1/2 cups mixed kale, stems removed and finely chopped
1 ripe nectarine or peach
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Small handful fresh chives or basil leaves
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Roasted shallot + garlic (from above)
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Cracked black pepper, to taste
What to do
Preheat oven to 325°F / 165°C and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half then place on baking sheet. Half and peel the shallot and place on the baking sheet with tomatoes and garlic clove. Drizzle everything with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and season with sea salt (a pinch or two should do). Place sheet on the top rack of your oven and roast for 30 minutes, until tomatoes are slightly dried around the edges but still juicy. Remove from oven and let cool.
While the tomatoes are roasting cook your quinoa. Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a metal sieve for about 30 seconds. Add rinsed quinoa and 1 cup water to a pot and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 13-15 minutes, until quinoa has increased in sized and absorbed most of the water. Remove from heat and let sit with the lid on for another 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Drain off any excess water.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels and sauté, only stirring once or twice, for 2 minutes to just char the outside. Remove corn from the pan, reduce heat to low and add pumpkin seeds. Toast seeds for a few minutes, until light brown and fragrant, stirring often to prevent burning. Remove from heat and set aside.
Remove rough stems from the kale and finely chop the leaves. Add kale, cooled tomatoes, cooked quinoa, toasted corn and pumpkin seeds to a large bowl. Pit and dice the nectarine and add to the bowl along with crumbled feta cheese.
For the dressing. Add roasted shallot and garlic clove to a small blender. Add red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, sea salt and pepper. Begin blending and drizzle in olive oil with the motor running. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add a tablespoon of water if the dressing is too thick.
Add half the dressing to the salad, mix with your fingertips to combine. Sprinkle with fresh basil or chives and serve with extra dressing on the side. Salad will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 2 days.
Let me in on your kitchen creations – tag your photos #happyheartedkitchen and share the love!