Kale Salad with Farm Fresh Pecans


Last week’s visit to the farmers market had me lugging home more kale than I could fit in my fridge. Reducing its bulk to a manageable size was the first order of business. There’s something therapeutic about cleaning a large volume of greens; methodical and rewarding but completely mindless. Next was the Rumpelstiltskin style task of turning a mound of kale into culinary gold. I made a huge batch of pesto (just substitute basil for kale), 2 trays of kale chips and still had enough left over for a bright salad with Molly and Me’s Sneaky Hot Pecans. The pecans added a perfect pop of heat and crunch to compliment the sweet golden raisins and the tart vinaigrette, resulting in a completely satisfying lunch on a steamy hot day.


Kale Salad with Farm Fresh Pecans

Serves 2


5 oz kale (washed and stems removed)

1/4 cup golden raisins (soaked for 5 minutes in water)

1/2 cup Sneaky Hot Pecans

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese



1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



1. Roll up the kale in bunches and slice into bite size strips. They don’t need to be even.

2. In a small bowl, mix the mustard and vinegar then whisk in the olive oil and season.

3. In a large bowl, add the kale and dressing and massage well with your hands.

4. Add raisins, pecans and goat cheese.

5. Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Roast Chicken and Bread Salad


There are a few dishes that everyone should know how to make well. Roasting a chicken to juicy tender perfection is a skill every carnivore should have. I’ve always used Simon Hopkinson’s recipe. Not only is he one of my favorite food writers but I figured a man who calls his book “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” has to feel pretty good about his method. And so he should. It’s downright perfect. I like it carved and laid atop a fresh spring salad with a dressing made of the chicken’s cooking juices which are soaked up by the croutons. 


Roast Chicken and Bread Salad

Adapted from Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken and Other Stories

Serves 4



6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 chicken (approx. 4lbs), try to get farm raised if you can

1 lemon

A few branches of fresh thyme

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1/2 cup of dry white wine

1 onion

Salt and pepper


Salad Ingredients:

4 cups of fresh white bread, torn or cut into 2″-3″ chunks

6 tablespoons of olive oil


4 cups of mixed salad leaves

4 radishes, thinly sliced with a potato peeler

1 cup fresh peas, if you can find them (otherwise use defrosted frozen ones)



1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. Roughly chop the onion and put in a roasting pan large enough to fit the chicken as well as hold the juices.

3. Rub the chicken all over with the butter then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. 

4. Squeeze the juice of the lemon all over the chicken and then put the two lemon halves inside the bird’s cavity along with the thyme and garlic. 

5. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes, then baste with the juices from the pan. Next add the wine to the pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and roast for a further 45 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices. 

6. Meanwhile as your chicken is roasting, lay the bread on a cookie tray and mix well with the olive oil. Season with salt and add to the oven for the last 10-15 minutes that the chicken is roasting.

7. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly open and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes.  

8. In a large bowl, mix the leaves, radishes, peas and croutons with some of the pan juices from the roast chicken. 

9. Arrange the salad on a platter. Carve the bird and lay on top of the salad. If you want to save some of the breast meat for later, you can start by serving the wings, drumsticks and thighs. Drizzle some of the remaining juices over the chicken pieces, just enough to moisten and add flavor, and serve immediately.

Panzanella (Tuscan bread and tomato salad)


I’ve been spending the last few days of my time in Italy staying with my oldest friend, Catherine, in what is to my mind, the most beautiful house in Tuscany. A stunning farmhouse at the end of a treacherous road where I feel completely at home and happy. I’m incredibly lucky to have my nearest neighbor be one of my closest friends and I always make sure our time here overlaps. I just can’t imagine being here without her. We spent last night at a local festa reminiscing about a slightly more glamorous party that used to be the highlight of every summer but which sadly no longer happens.


Every August, the courtyard of Badia a Coltibuono, a 12th Century monastery outside Gaiole, would be the stage for a concert by students of the famous Academia Chigiana. The classical music was followed by food and drinks in the formal garden while the courtyard was transformed into a disco. Huge ceramic bowls filled with Panzanella and platters of Parma ham, salami and cheese were laid out for the guests to feast on before the dancing began. I decided to recreate the panzanella today and I’m sure the fact that it was so delicious was thanks to every ingredient except the bread coming straight from Catherine’s garden.





4 slices of tuscan bread or good sourdough

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, deveined, seeded and sliced into strips

2 large heirloom tomatoes

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Basil leaves



1. The bread should be a little stale. If it is not, you can put it in a low oven for 15 minutes to dry out. Then cut into 1″ cubes.

2. Soak the sliced onions in a bowl of water for 10-15 minutes to bring out the sweetness then drain and dry.

3. In a large bowl, mix the red pepper, tomatoes, bread and red onion.

4. Sprinkle the vinegar and then the olive oil all over the salad and mix well with your hands. Add salt, taste and mix again. Tuscan bread is made without salt so I used quite a lot but it depends on your ingredients.

5. Finish by sprinkling with some chopped basil leaves and leave it to sit for at least 10 minutes. The bread will soak up all the juices of the tomatoes and continue to improve.

Warm Lentil Salad with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese


I first tried this dish in 2008. I was on a sales trip in Asia and escaped for a week to a hotel in Bali that I had been dreaming of for years. Since I was going alone, I thought I’d break the habit of a lifetime of rich food and cocktails and actually try one of the juicing cleanses they offered. It was less than a week so I figured it couldn’t kill me.


The hotel was everything I imagined: a room in the jungle with 3 walls of windows and an outdoor bath in total seclusion. A butler would find me at one of the various pools every few hours for my next juice. As the days went by I was pleasantly surprised by the juicing diet. I even naively marveled at how reasonable the pricing was – conveniently forgetting that I was only injesting a few fruits and vegetables so my overheads weren’t exactly high!


The juices were practically meals unto themselves but I had been passing these incredible restaurants that I was dying to try so I eagerly awaited day 5 when I would be back on solid foods. Since I needed to ease my way back, I decided to start with this salad. It was so delicious that I immediately asked them for the recipe. I now make it every year in January to remember that healthy, wonderful week in Bali. I may not be juicing but it is still a salad- despite my friend’s incredulous comments when I tell them what I’m making for lunch. I actually had to email a picture to my friend who refused to believe me.



Warm Lentil Salad with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese

Serves 2


2 medium red beets, roasted and sliced (see below – you can also expedite by buying pre-cooked beets)

Olive oil

1 cup of lentils (I like Puy lentils but any small ones will work)

1 red onion, finely diced

8 oz vegetable stock

4 tablespoons of good quality goat cheese

A small handful of green beans, remove stems, halve and then boiled for 4 minutes

1/2 cup baby arugula greens (I prefer frisee but the store was out of stock)

1 pear, peeled and cored



2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons walnut oil

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and pepper to taste



Roasted beets

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Drizzle the beets with a little olive oil, sprinkle some salt and wrap tightly in foil.

3. Roast the beets anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes depending on size. They’re ready when you can easily pierce with a knife.

4. When cool enough to handle, slice off the ends and peel the skin off with a paper towel.

5. Cut into 1/4 inch slices.



1. In a medium sized saucepan, sweat the onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft (about 8 minutes on low).

2. Add the lentils, the stock and a good pinch of salt.

3. Bring to a simmer and cover for about 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

4. Season as desired with salt and pepper.


Assembling the salad

1. In a small bowl, whisk together salad dressing ingredients and season to taste.

2. Mix half of the lentils gently in a little of the dressing and spoon onto each plate (save the remaining lentils for another meal – they are wonderful eaten alone).

3. Divide the goat cheese between the two plates and place on top of the lentils.

4. In a medium bowl, dress the arugula and green beans with dressing as desired.

5. Arrange the arugula and green beans on top of the goat cheese and lentils. (this is a beautiful stacked salad when finished)

6. Add some paper thin slices of pear on top of the salad. I use a pairing knife and shave thin slices but you could also use a potato peeler as well.

7. Finish by dividing the beets between the two salads.

8. Serve while the beets and lentils are still warm, allowing the goat cheese to melt slightly and all the flavors to combine.

Wild Rice Salad with Mango and Pecan


You may have figured out from previous posts that I feel very strongly about pasta and could blind taste the difference between most brands. The same, I’ve discovered, is absolutely true of beans and grains which I’m trying to eat more of. I came across Rancho Gordo on a food foraging trip in San Francisco and after tasting, quickly understood why they are so universally beloved. Steve Sando founded Rancho Gordo out of a frustration of not being able to find ingredients especially those native to the New World. And we’re very grateful that he did! Their beans and grains are so versatile that I’m constantly thinking up new ways to use them.


This wild rice salad is adapted from a Christopher Schlesinger recipe. The flavors and textures are as vibrant as the colors; sweet, tart, spicy, nutty, crunchy and juicy all rolled into one. It is just one of the many ways, I’ve incorporated Rancho Gordo products into my repertoire – more to come soon!



Wild Rice Salad with Mango and Pecans

Serves 4


1 cup of wild rice

Salt to taste
2 mangoes
1 red pepper
1 cup of pecans (roasted)



1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of lime juice



1. In a medium sized sauce pan, mix rice with 2 cups of cold water.

2. Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes or until the rice is chewy but still has a bite.

3. Drain excess water and let the rice cool, adding salt to taste.

4. Cube the mango and red pepper.

4. In a small bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together.

5. In a large serving bowl, mix the rice, mango, red pepper and pecans.

6. Pour the dressing over the rice, mix well and serve at room temperature as a side dish to pretty much any grilled meat or fish.


Mixed Leaf and Herb Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette


This is such a versatile salad since you can use whatever leaves and herbs you like. The slight sweetness of the dressing goes really well with a more bitter leaf like the radicchio. The salad works all year round and I serve it with a heavier dish like a lamb stew (recipe coming soon).



Mixed Leaf and Herb Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 4


(A mix of leaves and herbs – I like the following:)

Romaine Hearts

Belgian Endive







1 garlic clove (peeled and smashed)

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



1. Mix all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and let rest for at least an hour. When ready to dress the salad, strain out the garlic.

2. Wash all the leaves and cut into bite seize pieces.

3. Dry and leave in fridge to crisp up for at least 30 minutes.

4. When ready, toss the salad with the dressing and serve.


Fennel Salad with Bresaola


I adapted this recipe years ago from a River Café cookbook and have been serving it regularly as a starter ever since. I either have it on a platter along with other antipasti or if trying to be a bit more formal, plate it before serving. Somehow the nuttiness of the parmesan, the freshness of the fennel and the earthiness of the bresaola, make for a perfect combination. If you don’t like the strong aniseed flavor of fennel, give this a chance. By marinating the fennel, it mellows the flavor completely.

Fennel Salad with Bresaola 


1 teaspoon of Maldon salt

1 fennel bulb 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 slices of bresaola


1. Dissolve the salt in lemon juice and then whisk in the olive oil.
2. Thinly slice the fennel, having removed both ends. I use a mandolin to get extra.
3. Marinate the fennel in the olive oil lemon dressing and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
4. Pour the mixture over a layer of overlapping slices of bresaola.
5. Top with shaved Parmesan.