Thursday 7 August 2014

Summer Essentials #01 - Faites Simple: Kale, Sweet Potato and Walnut Salad with Balsamic Mustard Dressing

With summer wrapping up, it’s best to remember that we still have the finest of the season yet to go: the gorgeous days of August and early September, and those cool evenings which accompany them are ideal for entertaining. For me they are doubly prized as these moments precede the next chapter of my life--my move to Toronto for my Ph. D. 

While I love what I’ll be doing and am excited to get started, these final days of freedom between degrees are bittersweet. Saying goodbye to my beloved Montreal (and the wealth of French pastry it provides) has made me treasure every moment of this second half of summer.  I don’t know about yours, but my summer has been rich and bountiful: traveling to Europe for research, completing my MA thesis, warm visits with friends from as far away as Calgary and England, packing up my Montreal apartment, moving my belongings all in an epic overnight venture to Toronto and of course lots of good eats! 

In  an attempt to get the best out of the season, I’ve decided to start this little series of posts called “Summer Essentials,” some will contain recipes, others general pointers, some just glorious photos...either way, I hope they help you keep a firm grasp on the ever-fleeting days of this 2014 summer!

First on the list? I’ve decided to turn once again towards Escoffier and encourage his age old mantra of “Faites simple,” loosely translated as “keep it simple.”  This mantra can apply to everything from dining to dressing. If one of the finest chefs ever born believed in simplicity in food, why say different? Certainly in summer where the freshest tastiest fruit and veg are readily available! Fortunately, this fresh tasting dish can be made in all seasons meaning that memories made under the August sun might manifest themselves later in the year at the tip of your fork. Enjoy it hot or cold, as a main or side-dish, but most importantly? Enjoy it accompanied by friends and a few bottles of chilled white or rosé.


For the base:
Three sweet potatoes
-A large bunch of kale chips
-Olive oil for coating
-A large handful of coarsely crushed walnuts
-1/4 tsp. each of cayenne pepper and black pepper

For the dressing:

-3tbsp. each of strong dijon and modena balsamic. 
-2 cloves of garlic, peeled.
-A generous pinch of salt 
-Sugar or maple syrup to taste
-Handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped 

1) Preheat oven to 350, chop sweet potato into small cubes, coat with olive oil and cayenne, let bake until tender and penetrable with a fork, about 25 minutes
2) Chop kale, mist with olive oil or brush lightly, salt and pepper generously before adding to the oven for the last 5 minutes of cooking. When the sweet potatoes are ready, remove them from the oven, lower heat to 250 and continue baking kale until crispy

Well crisped kale should be able to stand on its own
3) Chop the coriander and assemble the dressing by passing garlic, sweetener of choice, mustard and balsamic through a food processor until thick.

Combine crunchy kale with tender sweet potatoes, coat with dressing and dust with coriander and walnuts.

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