Lately, I’ve been in a food funk. It seems that every few months I get in this mood where I have zero cravings and nothing sounds particularly tasty. Along with that, I hate having to plan for and make the food! (which I normally love to do!) Making a meal plan and grocery list this past weekend was HARD. And then when I actually got to the grocery store? I was a mess. I kept forgetting things, couldn’t decide if I’d picked out the “right” pork chops, the wait at the deli counter was about 10 minutes, and I stood in the face soap aisle for-ev-er trying to pick something new and “unisex” for Garland to try. Part of my problem was 1) I was tired and 2) slightly hungover from the night before. We went to TWO weddings this past Saturday. TWO! It was so much fun, but boy was I exhausted! (Also, it was good research for our own wedding. It really got me in the mood to start thinking about details like decorations! We’re less than 10 months away!)
It’s times like these where it’s really important to have a list of “go to” dishes to put into your meal plan—the classics that are easy and always taste good. Also, for me, it’s nice to put one or two “grilling only” meals on the list so my grill-loving fiancé can make the entire meal for us! Hence, the pork chops… which ended up being perfect despite my concern. 😉
For lunches, I turned to my food cart salad and this kale salad. I’ve been making this kale salad off and on for the last few months as an alternative to my go-to kale salad. There’s bleu cheese instead of feta (sometimes, I like it with either!), sliced almonds (or sunflower seeds!) instead of pecans, plus roasted carrots and grapes. The grain can be whatever you want or have on hand: I’ve used quinoa, brown rice and farro. Actually, in this particular salad pictured I didn’t even use a grain! It definitely makes it a more filling meal though, so I recommend it.
The most curious component of this salad, however, is the (not pictured) dressing: Greek yogurt and balsamic vinegar! Smooth, creamy, tart and tangy. I was worried it’d taste TOO yogurt-y, but the balsamic is the winning flavor. The yogurt, instead, mainly serves in place of the typical dressing “fats” of olive oil and/or mayonnaise. And as someone who almost always has a tub of yogurt in the fridge, this dressing concept was awesomely convenient too. Like the best salads, all the contrasting textures, sweet and salty aspects come together to form something completely exciting—even for the bored eater that I am this week!
- 2 cups chopped kale, packed
- 1 cup carrots, washed and sliced on the diagonal (1/4 inch thickness)
- 1½ teaspoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt + a pinch
- Pinch of cayenne
- ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
- ¼ cup bleu cheese (feta or goat cheeses work too!)
- 1 cup cooked quinoa, farro or brown rice
- Dressing: 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2½ tablespoons greek yogurt, ½ tablespoon honey, pinch of sea salt, pinch of pepper, pinch of cumin, ~1 tablespoon water
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss carrots with 1 teaspoon olive oil, sea salt and cayenne. Spread carrots on a baking pan and roast for about 15 minutes---flipping halfway through---until tender and brown.
- To make dressing, put all ingredients except for water into a small jar, put on lid and shake until thoroughly combined. Add enough water to make the dressing drippy and pourable. Taste and season with more salt/pepper if needed. Set aside.
- Massage kale with remaining ½ teaspoon olive oil and pinch of salt, divide among 2 serving bowls. Divide grains among bowls; then top each with 2 tablespoons of almonds and cheese. Lastly, toss on carrots once they have cooled. When ready to eat, pour on dressing! Can be assembled and stored in refrigerator for about 1 week.
Notes: Recipe originally from Cooking Light, via Pink Parsley