Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.
As much as I'd like to be, I'm not someone who's usually able to plan and shop for a week's worth of meals at once. Organization isn't my strong suit, and I can never predict on a Sunday what I'll feel like eating on Thursday. But what I can do is stock up on some basics, including a few bunches of kale -- it's my formula for impromptu healthy meals. I know many of you love kale as much as I do, so here are a few creative ways to get some extra kale into your life.
This is my twist on the classic Argentinian sauce. I serve it over simply grilled whitefish and sautéed kale. In a food processor, pulse together a handful of raw kale leaves, a handful of parsley, a few fresh oregano leaves, garlic, a splash of sherry vinegar, and olive oil. Drizzle on tonight's dinner, and save the leftovers to drizzle on everything else.
Kale & Eggs
Consider this breakfast for dinner. In an individual-sized baking dish, mix some canned or crushed fresh tomatoes with salt, pepper, and a pinch of smoked paprika. In a separate small bowl, toss about 1 cup of chopped raw kale with a bit of olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper. Place the kale in the baking dish along with a sprinkle of feta cheese and chopped scallions. Crack 1 or 2 eggs into the dish and bake until set, about 10 to 12 minutes. (You can also fry the eggs separately and place on top.) Finish with some freshly cracked black pepper.
Sushi Bowl with Crispy Kale
One of my favorite weeknight dinners is a simple brown rice sushi bowl. I mix my rice with a little bit of rice vinegar and a touch of sugar, then I try to choose toppings that vary in texture. I usually end up with avocado, edamame, nori, pickled shiso leaf (or pickled ginger), and crispy kale. To make the latter, toss kale leaves with some olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake until crispy. Crumble over the top of your rice bowl and top everything with some toasted sesame seeds.
Or, as my midwestern family called them growing up: "cheese triangles." These flaky little pastries are one of my favorite things my mom makes. I make a kale-ified version of her recipe: chop and blanch about 5 leaves of kale, mix it with 1 cup of feta cheese, some minced garlic, a few chopped scallions, a teaspoon of dried oregano, salt, and pepper. To assemble, layer 2 sheets of phyllo dough, brush with melted butter, and slice it into 5 vertical strips. Place a teaspoon of filling at the bottom of each strip and roll it up, flag-style. Repeat the process until you run out of filling (you'll have around 15 triangles). Brush the outside with butter and bake in a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden.
Spanish Chickpeas with Kale
Espinacas con Garbanzos was my favorite dish in Barcelona. I make a version using kale instead of spinach, and you should too. Read on for the recipe.
Serves 3 to 4, as a side
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon saffron
1 1/2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 to 3 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
Salt & pepper
A few splashes lemon juice (optional)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
Photos by Jeanine Donofrio