It's no surprise that is is blazing hot here in the Valley of the Sun. I invited some of the girls over that I haven't seen in a while. We all worked in a fine dine restaurant together in the day. We have remained great friends since 1993-ish. We have all been around the block food-wise and these girls can tell stories of my meat eating ways that would probably turn your stomach. This fine group of ladies would probably tell you I was the least likely candidate for digging vegan food and cooking.
It's been a couple of years now, so they have gotten used to the idea that I'm not going to be serving the carnage of yore. I have to say, I still spend a lot of time contemplating what to make for them. I want to make sure they LOVE what I make. If they love it, I can usually be confident that it is pretty good. These gals know their food. It has been a very long time since all of us have been together. It was so much fun being with such long-time awesome friends. I loved hearing all of the conversation and laughter at the table. We were having such a great time our lunch lasted almost into dinner time, so I pulled out the leftovers and we started snacking again.
This fine week as the temperatures were reaching 112, I really didn't want to turn on the oven or even be out at the grill. I decided to go for a totally cold spread. This made for a pretty pleasant day in the kitchen. The only thing I had to cook was the beans (in the slow cooker) and some orzo pasta. While my intentions were to see my friends it never hurts to have an audience to try out some new original stuff. The reviews were really good! The kale salad was a surprise hit, so I will share the basic recipe with you. It is super easy to throw together.
8 servings (4 as a main dish)
1 large bunch green kale, stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces, about 8 cups
1 1/2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/3 cup cranberries
1/3 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large just ripe avocado (make sure it is still a bit firm so it doesn't turn to mush in the salad) diced into 1/2" cubes
In a large bowl place washed kale. Drizzle in olive oil and vinegar. Make sure to massage the kale with your hand until the kale is brighter green and a bit softer. This will take out some of the toughness and bitterness that kale can have. Add remaining ingredients except for the avocado and mix well. Gently toss in the avocado, being careful not to mush it up. Salt and pepper to taste.
Thats it! Simple. Beautiful. Delicious. Filling. Oh and as an added bonus for summer, no oven!!!