Kale with Pine Nuts and Garlic Vinaigrette

by Shawnda on November 25, 2011

in Condiments,Lighter & Healthier,Salads,Sides,Vegetarian

I woke up today with a jumbo-sized carb hangover. And you might have, too. Unless you were born with willpower. And then, well, I’m totally jealous.

Last night, barely 30 minutes after I crammed the last load of dishes into the dishwasher and swore off cooking forever, I was in the kitchen, toasting pine nuts and whipping up dressing so we could have a light lunch at home before heading out. Today is a travel day for us. 6 hours in the car with a cranky toddler on our way to Thanksgiving #2. Now who’s jealous :)

Kale with Pine Nuts and garlic Vinaigrette

Our favorite little pizza place has a house vinaigrette that is for the garlic lover. Not liker. Lover. It’s not the salad dressing you order on a date. Unless your date is completely awesome and orders it for himself. And then you can go for it! It’s great on most salads, from the “plain romaine” that Jason prefers, to the mixed baby greens that Locatelli’s serves. But for the last month, I’ve been in love with the simple combination of Kale, pine nuts, and Parmesan, thank to Nancy.

The garlic flavor in the dressing will only intensify overnight. I try to make it ahead of time when I can but it’s not necessary.

Kale with Pine Nuts and Garlic Vinaigrette

Kale, parmesan, and pine nuts topped with a tangy vinaigrette that's perfect for the garlic lover.


  • For the vinaigrette:
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan (~1 oz)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • For the salad:
  • 1 bunch Kale, rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Parmesan, shaved (for garnish)


  1. Add lemon juice, white wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, and black pepper to your blender and turn on, streaming in the oil slowly.
  2. Turn off the blender and add the garlic and cheese. Blend another 10-15 seconds.
  3. Heat a dry non-stick pan over medium-high heat and add the pine nuts.
  4. Toast for 4-5 minutes, stirring once or twice until sides are golden brown.
  5. Coarsely chop kale and add to a large bowl.
  6. Lightly toss with a few tablespoons of dressing and garnish with toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan.


Yields: 4 servings

Source: Dressing Inspired by Locatelli's Pizza, Salad by A Communal Table

Estimated time: 20 minutes



Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

This week’s Project Pastry Queen challenge was one of the more fun and unique recipes in The Pastry Queen: Caesar Salad Pizzas, selected by Alice of This Home Plate.

It’s exactly what you’d expect: romaine, parmesan, and croutons are tossed with an out-of-this-world homemade dressing. And then all that is put on top of already-cooked, individual-sized pizza crusts.

I only made a half recipe of the dressing (it makes a lot!) and added some sliced grilled chicken breast and crunchy, completely addicting homemade croutons (recipe below). I’m not so much an anchovy filet person but I keep a tube of anchovy paste in the fridge for such occasions. It adds that extra layer of briny/saltiness to the dressing and the tube keeps forever. As you can see, I opted against serving it on pizza crust so I could save the carbs for dessert. Totally worth it :)

For the Caesar Salad Pizza recipe, head over to This Home Plate. And be sure to check out the other members’ pizzas!

Next week, I’ll be on time with a beautiful Tuxedo Cake. I have to be. It’s my week to host :)

Homemade Croutons

Crispy, crunchy croutons made from any leftover bread in the house. They're so good, you'll never want to buy them again.


  • 2 cups of ~3/4-inch bread cubes
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (more, if desired)
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan
  • Pepper
  • Salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. Place bread cubes in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, cheese, a pinch of salt, and black pepper together in a small bowl.
  4. Drizzle oil over bread cubes and toss to evenly distribute (I place a plate over the bowl and shake).
  5. Turn out onto a foil- or silicon-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Shake the pan or stir bread cubes and bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Repeat and bake for another 10 minutes. Check a test crouton or two to make sure they're crispy all the way through - bake an extra 5 minutes if needed.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool to room temp.
  9. Leftovers will keep several days in a zip-top bag.


Yields: 12 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 40 minutes



Grilled Zucchini & Red Onion with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette

Our garden continues to crank out zucchini like there’s no tomorrow. Luckily, “we” like zucchini! One of our favorite sides is grilled zucchini. But not just plain grilled zucchini. Noooo. We grew tired of plain grilled zucchini very soon after our plants started producing 3 baseball-bat sized zucs a day.

Grilling the zucchini caramelizes the rounds and adds a wonderful smokiness to the veggie. Paired with red onions that are incredibly sweet when grilled and a simple vinaigrette, they’re the perfect side dish for a weekend cook-out or barbecue.

Grilled Zucchini & Red Onion with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette

Smokey grilled zucchini and red onions are topped with a fresh summery vinaigrette.


  • 1 lb zucchini, sliced into 1/3-inch rounds
  • 1 red onion, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 3-4 large basil leaves, chopped


  1. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Carefully thread the onion rounds onto skewers (this will keep them in tact as rounds while grilling), making sure the skewer goes through every onion ring.
  3. Brush onions and zucchini rounds with 1/4 cup olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill vegetables 9-10 minutes each side, until nicely caramelized.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk garlic, lemon juice, zest, mustard, oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper together.
  6. Place cooked vegetables on a platter, drizzle with dressing, and top with chopped basil leaves.


Yields: 4-6 servings

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Estimated time: 30 minutes



Creamy Jalapeno Ranch

There’s a popular Tex-Mex chain here in town (Chuy’s) that serves a ranch dressing/dip that, upon tasting, invokes one of two responses:
– Pure bliss, while the angels sing and you bathe in their heavenly light
– Confusion, wondering what the hype is all about over extra salty ranch dressing

They call it “Creamy Jalapeno.” And you either think it’s the greatest thing ever or you don’t.

I love ranch dressing, but I still fall into the latter category. To me, there’s not nearly enough jalapeno in it to be called “Creamy Jalapeno.” So we took our favorite ranch dressing recipe and swapped out a few things to give us a more jalapeno-y dip worthy of being called Creamy Jalapeno.

It’s great on fish tacos (that’s what I always order at Chuy’s). Or as a chip/flauta/taquito/Mexican eggroll dipper. Or on salad. Or all over chicken enchiladas. And it has plenty of jalapeno to live up to its name!

Creamy Jalapeno Ranch Dressing

Inspired by Chuy's, this creamy homemade ranch dressing gets a TexMex makeover with jalapeno, lime, and cilantro.


  • 3/4 cup sour cream (fat-free greek yogurt is a great sub)
  • 3/4 cup mayo (I use light)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 small bunch of chives (equal to ~2 Tbsp chopped)
  • Small handful cilantro
  • 1-2 jalapenos, seeds and stem removed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk (optional)


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender
  2. Blend for 10 seconds. Check consistency and blend in buttermilk if desired. (Use less buttermilk for dipping, more for dressing).
  3. Store in an air-tight jar in the fridge.


Yields: 16 2-Tbsp servings

Adapted from Homemade Ranch Dressing

Estimated time: 5 minutes