Kale and Blood Orange Salad with Chevre and Hazelnuts

>> Thursday, February 25, 2010

 Buckle up, this post is a doozy.

You know what they say about the road to hell? Yeah. Pretty much.
I started off the year with my healthy, clean detox and I was posting here every day. I felt great, the blog picked up some new readers and things were looking bright and shiny. I meant to keep it all up. Then I got lazy. I started cooking much less healthfully and blogging much less frequently. Both of these facts resulted in me feeling cranky and unhappy. Lucky for me, Fake Lent (I am not catholic, or religious, for that matter) rolls around just about the same time as my new years resolutions are fading to small specks in the rearview mirror*. Even though I am under no religious obligation to observe Lent, I find that it's helpful for me to take this time to retool and reboot my resolutions.

This year I have decided to give up fast food for Fake Lent. It won't be very difficult since pre-Fake Lent I only ate fast food a few times a month, but I wanted to pick something that wouldn't discourage me too much like, say, giving up butter (HA!) Knowing that I can definitely meet this easy challenge makes me feel more confident in undertaking a few other challenges. These are plans that I am not making any promises about but that I have the very best of intentions for. I intend to blog a lot more. This means that the format of my blog my change a bit. Instead of strictly recipes and recipe photos, I want to start doing more for gluten-free mankind (and the rest of you suckers) by reviewing restaurants and products and talking about the food I eat even when it isn't a photo-worthy recipe. I also intend to eat more healthfully and conscientiously. Inspired by Food, Inc, I have become much more selective about the foods I eat and where they come from. I plan to include more seasonal, local and just plain healthy foods in my recipes. OK! Now, I'll step off my soapbox and share an amazingly delicious and superbly healthy recipe that takes advantage of the gorgeous kale and blood oranges that are still in season and easy to get at any Farmer's Market in LA.
 This recipe comes from The Bitten Word who adapted it from Martha.

Oooh, wait, I have to hop back on my soap box for a second to talk about kale. Kale rocks. The "picky" in my name sometimes prevents me from enjoying greens the way those granola crunching hippies seem to. Many greens are just too strong for my palate and I avoided kale for a long time because I was afraid it would just be like all the others. It's not! Kale is super mild but has a great crunch. First timers might even try substituting it for iceberg in a plain ol salad with ranch. Don't be like me, don't you dare be like me!(read in dramatic, Lifetime movie style voice.) Try kale before you judge it. Now, back to our regularly scheduled recipe:
- 1 1/2 pounds Tuscan black kale or regular kale, stems and ribs removed, leaves shredded
- 4-6 blood oranges, supremed, juice reserved (see instructions)
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (see instructions)
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Toast your hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, swirling them every couple of minutes. Toast until the nuts are fragrant and the skin is beginning to flake off and turn darker brown. When the nuts are toasted, pour them onto a towel or paper towel and make a pouch.
 Roll the pouch around in your palm or on a flat surface to remove the bitter skins.
Now roughly chop the hazelnuts and set them aside.
 Cut the top and bottom off the blood oranges.
Using a sharp knife, cut off the skin in strips leaving no white bits but also staying as close to the fruit as possible (try not to cut off too much of the actual orange.)
 Once all the skin and pith are removed, hold the naked orange over a bowl and cut out each segment, one at a time.
 Use a very sharp paring knife and cut along the membrane, just on either side of it. You want to get all orange but no membrane.
 Place the segments in one bowl and the leftover hulls in another. When you are finished, squeeze the membrane-y orange carcasses (nice imagery, right?) with your hands or through a mesh strainer to get all the juice out of them, then discard them.
 Place washed, dried, stemmed and chopped kale in a large bowl.
Drizzle with vinegar, oil, and reserved orange juice; toss.
 Add oranges, hazelnuts and goat cheese and toss again, gently.
 Season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 30 minutes before serving.
 * I am happy to report that I have thus far successfully kept my resolution to limit myself to ONE bag of Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles plus ONE 16 oz container of Ralph's sour cream per month. This is not as easy as it sounds and I am hereby giving myself a hearty pat on the back and an enthusiastic "keep it up!"


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