Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Saffron Marinated Chicken, Quinoa with Asparagus Puree & Esalen Kale Salad

My mother hates vegetables. I have to continually disguise and otherwise alter vegetables to get her to eat them. She is pretty much like a kid when it comes to food. She knows veggies are good for her but would rather eat a doughnut or a cookie. If you have kids or adults who eat like kids (sugar obsessed, don't like vegetables) here is a trick. Take the soup I made yesterday with cabbage and beans- put it in a blender with a hunk of feta cheese and puree it. Add some homemade croutons by cutting up some whole grain bread and toasting it in a pan with some olive oil. Voila. You just got your kids to eat cabbage.

Some people, upon discovering that a Big Mac can survive virtually unchanged for years, stop eating them (see http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2008/09/12-year-old-mcdonalds-hamburger-still-looking-good.html). Others like my mother or most kids don't even flinch.

Did you see that episode on Jamie Oliver's show when he showed a bunch of kids that chicken McNuggets were made with pureed chicken carcasses and nasty wobbly bits? And they were like, "EEEWWWWWWW". And then Jamie coated them in batter and fried them up and the kids still wanted to eat them? (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9B7im8aQjo&NR=1&feature=endscreen) If you can still eat a Chicken McNugget after seeing this I am concerned. You are nutritionally hosed.

My theory is that if the apocalypse were to happen and another race of beings came upon earth and out of curiosity decided to have a look at what we left behind one of the things they would find would be an old Big Mac. And they would have no idea that it was food. There would be a whole team of alien scientists trying to figure out the cultural significance and purpose of the Big Mac.

So what does all if this has to do with Saffron Chicken, Asparagus Quinoa and Esalen Kale Salad? Not much other than you should eat this and not a Big Mac.

Esalen Kale Salad

My dear friend Caz Love works in the kitchen at Esalen Institute and taught me how to make this crazy good kale salad. I added apple to it inspired by my other dear friend Jess, who makes a kick ass kale salad with apples and nuts.

Equal parts olive oil, lemon juice, and Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (I did ¼ cup of each)

Big bunch of kale de-stemmed and cut into ribbons (I did a ½ a bag of pre-washed, pre-stemmed mixed with a bit of carrots and cabbage)

Red onion cut in half and onion thinly sliced (I did half an onion)

Toasted nut or nuts of your choice (I did pepitas)

Toast nuts over medium heat in a pan. Put the sliced onion in a bowl and cover with the lemon juice and Braggs. Let onions marinate while you massage the olive oil into the kale. Do this until the kale feels tender enough that you personally want to eat it. Then add the onions with the lemon and Bragg's mixture and toasted nuts and toss to combine.

Saffron Marinated Chicken

This is adapted form a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi. I like it because it has so much flavor and I am pretty much obsessed with saffron.

4 chicken breasts

2 red onions, sliced

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

a generous pinch of saffron strands

juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp cold water

2 tsp coarse sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

Marinate the chicken, onion, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper in the fridge for at least one hour or overnight.

Separate the chicken and the onions. Grill the onions in a grill basket and the chicken directly over the coals or flame. Alternately, you can roast everything together, marinade and all, in the oven in a roasting dish at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.

You can also see in the photo above some roasted fennel and quinoa with asparagus puree. Asparagus puree is a recipe I never get tired of. I found it in the New York Times when it was used as the base for a pasta sauce mixed with prosciutto. During a cleanse I replaced the pasta with quinoa and omitted the ham and never looked back. Not that I don’t love pasta and ham, but this is my go-to recipe for a healthy side dish that anybody will love. It is also good for breakfast. I had some today topped with a poached egg. And by the way the Esalen Kale salad is also great in quinoa for breakfast. They serve it at Esalen every morning. Yum.

Asparagus Puree over Quinoa

2 pounds whole asparagus

1 tbs finely grated lemon rind

2 tbs reserved steaming liquid

2 tbs olive oil

salt and pepper

1. Trim asparagus by breaking stem where the tough part meets the tender. Cut just below the tip and set aside. Cut remaining tender stems into one-inch pieces. Steam for about 6 minutes, depending on thickness of stems, until quite tender, but still bright green. Remove stems and reserve steaming liquid.

2. Place stem pieces in food processor with lemon rind, olive oil, and 1 tablespoon reserved liquid. Process to a sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Using the same steamer cook asparagus tips 2-4 minutes, depending on thickness, until just until tender

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Spoon asparagus puree over quinoa.

Top with asparagus tips.

You can also stir the sauce into the quinoa, add grated Parmesan cheese and top with toasted pine nuts.


  1. LOBIN!! I wanna come over for dinner!!! I am going to make some of these recipes for sure. Miss you miss beauty!!!!

  2. Theeeeeeeners!!! I love you long time! Miss you too. oxoxoxoxox