Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

Winter vegetables can seem bleak without the variety of the summer harvest. It’s why of all the recipes I cooked from Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massamilla’s food poetry cookbook, Cooking with the Muse, I asked if I could share her Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta. This vegetarian side dish packs in bold flavors and served with baked tofu or salmon, is my kind of healthy meal. What makes their way of approaching recipes extra special is how Massimilla provides a poet’s note and in this case, a snippet from an Auden poem to accompany Kornfeld’s recipe creation. Food poetry synchronicity at its finest!

Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

A poet’s hope: to be,

like some valley cheese,

local, but prized elsewhere.

—W.H. Auden, from “Shorts II”

Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

Recipe and poet’s note republished with permission from Cooking with the Muse by Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massimilla (Tupelo Press, 2016).

Roasting gently browns the cauliflower florets and crisps the kale leaves, coaxing deep flavor out of the vegetables. Following this recipe will render them toasty and juicy at once. The combination of garlicky olives, capers, lemon, and oregano lends a slightly citrusy, almost buttery quality to the dish. A sprinkling of a good feta cheese from a pasture-raised sheep or goat adds one more element of delight and surprise. The literary history of pastured sheep’s and goat’s milk feta dates back to the Odyssey, a foundational epic poem of Western literature (see the Poet’s Note.)

Serves 4 to 6
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 pound curly kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed and chopped
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces feta cheese (preferably sheep’s milk feta), crumbled (1/2 cup)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Have ready a parchment paper–covered baking sheet.
  2. In one bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  3. In another bowl, toss the kale with 1 tablespoon oil. Massage the oil into the leaves so that each leaf is lightly coated. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt.
  4. After the cauliflower has roasted for 30 minutes, add the kale to the baking sheet, return it to the oven, and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is browned and the kale is crispy. Remove from the oven.
  5. Warm the remaining tablespoon of oil with the butter in a large skillet until the butter melts. Add the garlic, olives, and capers and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant. Stir in the cauliflower and kale, the water, and the oregano; combine thoroughly. Stir in the lemon juice and a sprinkling of pepper.
  6. Serve hot, with feta scattered on top.


Poet’s Note

This literary history of feta dates back to the 8th century BCE, though the emphasis in the epics that have come down to us was on hecatombs—sacrificial roasts of large animals on spits—the mainstay of a masculine warrior’s diet that was likely even then reserved for the upper classes. Feta, that tangy, salty, crumbly, quintessentially Greek cheese—which was originally aged and brined to keep well in a hot, arid climate—is described. Indeed, the equipment used to make sheep’s milk cheese in the Cyclops Polyphemus’s cave in Book IX of Homer’s Odyssey is much like that used by Greek shepherds to make feta today. Odysseus made the imprudent decision to raid the larder of a gigantic man-eating monster (who was fortunately myopic enough for Odysseus later to blind and outwit by escaping on the underbelly of a sheep, though some of his men didn’t fare so well):


We entered the cave and took stock of everything inside.

His baskets were loaded with cheeses, and his pens spilling

over with lambs and kids, divided into separate groups…

And all his vessels, milk pails, and pans into which he milked,

were brimming with whey. Seeing all this, my men begged me

to let them steal the cheeses, and make off with them to the ship…

but I wouldn’t listen to them; I wanted to meet

the owner first, in the hope that he’d give me a guest present.


Later, as they observe the giant, he goes on to prepare the whey cheese:


He drew off half of the milk to curdle it, and set it

aside in strainers made of wicker, stored for cheeses,

but let the other half stand in the milk pails…


Before disembarking on the island of the Cyclops, Odysseus and his men had surveyed the land with thoughts of colonizing it. They’d noticed that the carnivorous giants had no social customs and that their sheep were allowed to cavort everywhere without any pens to hold them. Though he and his crew were not in serious need of provisions and Odysseus was certainly foolish to tarry in the cave in hopes of receiving an extra “guest present” from an uncivilized monster, it is perhaps no surprise that Odysseus risked his life and those of his men to raid this cave for cheeses, lambs, and kids in the first place. Even by Archaic Greek standards, these livestock were seriously free range.

Greek cuisine in the 4th-century classical age was more sparing. The Greek poet Archestratus lived in Sicily, which was regarded by tradition to be the original island of the Cyclops. Archestratus, who lived there after it had really become a Greek colony, was perhaps the first Western cookbook writer whom we know of, though the fragments we have are from a parodic poem that advises the gastronomic reader on where to find the best food. His recipes rightly emphasize the fresh local quality of the ingredients.



Kale Celery Root Soup

Kale Celery Root Soup - anneliesz

In the Bay area, if it dips under 60 degrees, we pull out the scarves and beanies. I’ve been donning my fingerless gloves for weeks and am wearing out my hoodie (hood up, thank you). Our place doesn’t have a working heater or a working fireplace though we have one of each. To stay warm and for overall high spirits, I drink copious amounts of tea and coffee. Then, I pile on the layers. On particularly cold days, the oven cranks onto a balmy 375, which makes my challah rise to the happy climes. Recently we made an excursion to Philadelphia. That city won me over in a big way a few years back and claimed the spot of favorite food city of 2014, narrowly being edged out of its spot in 2015 by Los Angeles and its booming bold flavors of any kind of cuisine imaginable.

While in Philadelphia, we sported winter coats. Hats with ear flaps. Mittens. And on a few occasions, we may have ducked into stores we didn’t really have any intention of perusing had the wind not picked up into the soul-crushingly cold temperatures. We ran up the Rocky steps, or more accurately, I ran up the Rocky steps. I quickly learned that detail alone separated the chump out-of-towners from the townies like opening an umbrella in Seattle gives you away in an instant. Two days at the museum meant two chances to eat incredibly good pizza in the name of it being within walking distance.

If I had to qualify my favorite thing to eat, anything wrapped in a fresh, hot corn tortilla would take the top seat and perhaps surprisingly, homemade soup would nab the silver spot. I love sweets more than I should, but I could eat soup everyday and not grow bored. Homemade soup is one part revelation and another part Bay area and beyond winter survival tactic. I created this soup with the specific aim in mind of cramming as much greens as possible into something that also tends toward being a little naughty. The bacon fat lends a nudge of meaty flavor to a veggie-filled soup. I won’t be mad at you if you make more bacon to crumble on top when you’re ready to serve it. Or, skip the bacon altogether and use veggie stock, letting it rain Parmesan on top as a garnish. Whatever you need to do stay warm in winter works.

Kale Celery Root Soup


3 pieces bacon, torn into 3 pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and medium chopped (1 cup)

1 green bell pepper, ribbed and medium chopped (1 ¼ cups)

1 small yellow onion, medium chopped (1 cup)

1 teaspoon kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon

1 (10 ounce-sized) small celery root, peeled and medium chopped (1 ¾ cup)

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

1 bunch kale, rinsed, ribbed and chopped (about 6 cups)

4 cups low sodium chicken stock

1 cup water

Crème Fraiche

Fry the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon, placing on a plate for later use. Drizzle and swirl the oil into a stockpot. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Saute them for about 10 minutes or until mostly cooked, stirring occasionally. Stir in the celery root and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the kale, coriander, paprika, and Aleppo pepper, stirring for about 1 minute. Pour in the chicken stock, water, and remaining teaspoon of kosher salt. Raise the heat to medium high. Cook the soup for about 15 minutes or until the celery root is fork tender. Puree the soup in batches. Crush the cooled bacon into bits. Serve with a drizzle of crème fraiche on top a la Jackson Pollock and a scattering of bacon bits.


PS- This soup would actually be pretty terrific with grilled cheese soldiers dipped into it.

PPS- And, if you happen to find celery root in the summer, it would make a fine chilled soup too.

Kale Celery Root Soup - anneliesz

Food Poetry Poetry

To the Next Superfood – food poetry

To the Next Superfood

To whom it may concern
and who has ears to learn,
what passes the test one

day will fall out of favor.
Even now, I try and savor
my name in newsprint,

the widespread popularity,
my far-reaching availability,
and the rich talking points

that come with this gig each day:
high in iron! Vitamin C, A and K!
Carotenoids! Flavonoids! Iron!

I can’t shake that while it’s all true
why you buy me is because I’m “new.”
Ask acai or broccoli, salmon or spinach.

Every superhero has its moment
to be eclipsed by what’s current.
I will still be as valuable when I’m

no longer en vogue. Just look at
my role in the Middle Ages, what
a supplement I played in WW II.

So even when you say you’re through
with my curly green edges or you’ve
tired of crisping me into cheesy chips,

I will keep growing and begin to regale
because nothing not even turmeric
can take on brassica oleracea, the mighty kale!

© Annelies Zijderveld. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint or post without attribution. 

food poetry-kale-the food poet



Kale Chips

When kale is at its most plentiful in the fall, this leafy green packs a powerful nutrient punch. We like it in a savory Village Pie, Kale Caesar Salad or in a Massaged Kale Salad. But when you get an urge for something crispety crunchy, you might find that kale makes a slightly addictive snack in kale chips. Of all the variations I’ve tried, CG’s Kale Chips recipe is the best. Lemony bright and tangy with a dairy-free cheese flavor, man, these hit the spot! She shows how to make them in a dehydrator but to bake them, turn on your oven to 300 degrees and bake for 20 minutes or until crisp but not burned.



Set your oven to 300 degrees

ingredients needed for kale chips

squeeze fresh lemon juice

prime ripe lemon and squeeze out 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

add 5 teaspoons olive oil to kale

add 1 tsp kosher salt

add 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast to kale leaves

lay out kale pieces on pan and try to keep from overlapping

bake for 20 minutes or until crispy. Take care to watch them if baking longer than 20 min.






Massaged Kale Feta Salad with Pickled Cherries and Walnuts

SALAD RECIPES- Massaged Kale Feta Salad with Pickled Cherries and Walnuts



Massaged Kale Feta Salad with Pickled Cherries and Walnuts

SERVES: 6 side portions
TIME: 3 days for pickling; 10 minutes for salad prep

Adapted from the Pickled Grape recipe by Karen Solomon in “Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It”  

As someone who had never pickled anything before, I sought out an expert named Karen Solomon, and her book “Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It” is one you should have in your kitchen on the recipe book shelf. (Wait, doesn’t everybody have one of these?!) She’s got so many fun weekend projects that I want to tackle… This is an adaptation of her “pickled grapes” recipe and an example that something sweet turned sour can taste like magic. Also, pitting cherries is a breeze after the first few, so lest you think I’m leading you down a time-suck path fraught with frustration, it gets easier the more you pit. And besides, you’re making pickled cherries- how sweet is that? This salad’s got a surprise in every bite.

· 2 small cloves of garlic, crushed
· 1 piece green onion – white part up the stalk (2 inches)
· 1 cinnamon stick
· 1/4-inch fresh ginger, peeled
· 1 cup Bing cherries, washed
· 2 tablespoons sugar
· 1 teaspoons kosher salt
· 1/3 cup white distilled vinegar
· 1/3 cup water



· 4 cups kale, washed and stemmed
· 2 tablespoons hard sheep’s cheese
· ¼ cup crumbled feta
· 1 cup pickled cherries, plus 2 T of liquid
· ¼ cup chopped carrots
· 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
· 2 tablespoons fresh mint, washed and torn
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· Dash of salt and pepper


Pickled Cherries
1. Remove pits from cherries- carefully slice them in half and remove the pit before tossing de-pitted cherries into bowl.
2. Pack the ginger, garlic, green onion and cinnamon stick with cherries into a clean pint jar. (I used a much larger quart sized jar because that’s what I had on hand and it worked like a charm– the main thing is to make sure it has a lid that seals and is tight-fitting.)
3. Add cherries to your jar. Next add sugar, salt and vinegar.
4. Pour in the water (you can add a little extra as you want to make sure the cherries are sufficiently covered).
5. Close lid tightly and shake your jar gently to dissolve sugar and salt. (This is quite relaxing).
6. Let sit on counter for 3 days or inside refrigerator for 1 week, gently shaking your jar every day.
1. Prepare about 10-15 minutes before you are ready to serve.
2. Pour olive oil and pickled cherry juice onto kale leaves. Add dash of salt and pepper to taste. Then massage with your hands until sufficiently covered.
3. Toss in remaining ingredients. Let sit for 10 minutes as you want the acid and oil to meld with the kale leaves.




Kale Caesar Salad

SALAD RECIPES- Kale Caesar Salad

Watching the TV show Modern Family this week, I chuckled as one of the characters told his husband, “You’ll never guess what the new Spinach is.” To this, the husband chirped “Radicchio” and was trounced with the response, “No, kale!” They proceeded later in the episode of introducing this leafy green vegetable with the initial character not quite convinced that kale is anything more than a garnish.

Like many people come January, I made some healthier living resolutions. I actually like making them at the first of the year or at the beginning of a week, feeling there to be a bit of tabula rasa fairy dust in the air. It’s a quirk, yes. Somehow the idea of setting goals forces us to bring to the forefront things we’ve been casually considering but singing to the chipper tune of “another day, another time.” So as I ushered in 2011, one of my goals seemed terribly do-able. The key was to imbue it with flavor.

Eat more vegetables.

When I was a kid, I quickly befriended Cari B. at my Montessori. Like kids do, we became instantly inseparable and took on each other’s habits like borrowing sweaters out of each other’s closets. Cari lived in the East side of the city so it was a bit of a trek to head to her house and a treat. Upon arriving, her coal black Scottish terrier Dukes would catapult down the stairs, licking the salt from my skin, endowing me with his sloppy kisses and hearty barks. We jumped on her trampoline. We spent hours swimming in her dad’s pool. We scavenged the neighborhood for unseen adventures waiting behind the nearby forest.

One day, and for some reason, this one stands out, we congregated in her kitchen for a meal like any other time I visited. This time, though, she pulled out the iceberg lettuce, cutting into it and eating it straight. Without salad dressing, without flair or flourish, she munched on those lettuce leaves with sincere delight. I came home and asked my mom to pick up iceberg lettuce and proceeded on my merry way of being a lettuce eater who detested salad dressings, but preferred my greens straight up.

Cari happened to be the first vegetarian in my life and her mother was ahead of her time introducing tofu at the dinner table and banning white sugar from the house. That knack of raising her kids without sugar in the house was effectively rejected at the movie theaters once her dad dropped us off with its colorful boxes of candy-shell coated chocolates. With her, I tagged along to my first Whole Foods store, which back then in Texas carried a different sensibility than hopping over to a neighborhood Whole Foods now. Her mom, Tina taught me how to enjoy vegetables not as the supporting actor, but as the main star. Unlike other kids at that age, I liked most vegetables and the habit stuck around long after Cari and I had gone our separate ways to different schools.

A disturbing trend I’d found happening in my life the past year or so was the marked absence of vegetables. I attempted to introduce them but had somehow convinced myself that they were too much trouble to prepare. On top of that, several gourmet salad cafes near the office dissuaded me from salad as their exotic, gourmet ingredients were met with paltry dressings.

But this was the year to right this blight. And in came kale. We had cooked several batches in weeks previous but I found myself chewing quickly as if it was something to get through and not something to be enjoyed. One night a few weeks back, I came home tired and hungry. Nathan had had a late lunch so I knew he’d probably refrain from dinner. I opened the refrigerator, surveying its contents. My eyes landed on the kale and I began salivating. The previous times, there was nothing wrong with the kale. Once we’d sautéed it with onions and garlic and a bit of applewood smoked bacon. Another time, we’d baked it. But something wasn’t right. This particular evening I figured out my misstep.

With vegetables it’s important to figure out how you enjoy them best. This goes for the non-veggie loving eaters out there. Just like people ordering steak at a steakhouse denote what consistency they like their meat, you might find that those mushy peas you hated in childhood are completely different when cooked al dente. The trick is texture and consistency.

So here was my gem of a realization: I like kale best when it’s raw.

Kale for kale caesar salad

Like this, it has an opportunity to show off its deep green flavors that are so complex and taste rather washed out when cooked. I craved a Kale Caesar Salad and had seen one on Silvana’s blog recently. Upon typing those terms into a search engine, I had the happy fortune of pulling up the recipe below from the Boston Globe. I adapted it, as I am prone to do, out of necessity. I wanted to keep the salad vegetarian and decided against croutons as I wanted the crunchiness to come from the kale itself and thus left the stem intact.

You’ll find letting the leaves marinate in the dressing for about 5-10 minutes really does the trick and those stems are thoroughly chewable and not bitter. You’ll find the flavors of the dressing augment the flavor of the kale without diminishing or hiding it. The brightness of the lemon and vinegar, the tang and slight creaminess of the parmesan and then of course the piquant notes of garlic blend together for a combination that’s mighty tasty. I didn’t miss the anchovies or the egg but understand for Caesar salad purists, these might be non-negotiables to which I say make your own variation of the dressing and have fun tweaking it to your tastes.

Trifecta for Kale Caesar Salad Dressing

My dear Nathan saw the salad bowl and tried a bite. This led to him getting up and grabbing a bowl from the pantry, helping himself to two large scoops of salad that went from bowl into belly.

So out of that desire to continue making vegetables a welcome guest at the table and out of appreciation for Cari and her mother so long ago teaching me that vegetables could be something special, I share with you my own find: the Kale Caesar Salad.

Kale Caesar Salad


Kale Caesar Salad

Adapted from Jill Santopietro’s recipe for the Boston Globe

2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
salt, to taste
1 pound (about 2 bunches) laminate kale, rinsed and sliced into 1/4 inch ribbons

With an immersion blender, blend the garlic and add the lemon juice and vinegar. As your immersion blender continues whirring, add 1/2 cup of the oil in a thin steady stream. Add pepper and Parmesan.

Five to 10 minutes before serving, in a salad bowl, combine the kale and enough dressing to coat it.




Lentil Quinoa with Kale

Lentil Quinoa with Kale


Lentil Quinoa with Kale

I came up with this dish a few weeks ago and found it so yummy that it was my vegetarian contribution to the Thanksgiving meal yesterday. No turkey, no tryptophan, no troubles! What I discovered in making this recipe is how marvelous the kale cooking liquid is. I actually reserved all of it, using some of it in the recipe below, and then freezing the rest for a rainy day. I love the savory green flavor that is a mighty good stand-in for stock. 

1 bunch curly kale, ribs removed, rinsed, chiffonade-cut
6 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 leek, rinsed and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup rinsed quinoa
1/2 cup brown lentils

Plunge the greens into a large pot of boiling salted water, cook them for 10 minutes. Drain the kale into a bowl, reserving 3 cups of the kale cooking water. Drizzle and swirl the olive oil into a skillet set over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic and pepper flakes stirring occasionally for 7 minutes or until the leeks have softened. Add the kale and 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid reserved cooking water to the garlic mixture. Cook for 15 minutes. Pour the remaining reserved kale cooking liquid into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the quinoa and lentils into the saucepan. Add the kale and any liquid in the skillet to the lentils and quinoa. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through and most of the liquid has cooked out.


Lentil Quinoa with Kale -0958