Kitchen Sink Salad

Over Christmas break, my mom and I set out to recreate my great Grandma's recipes after they were mailed to me, packed snugly in a graham cracker box. It wasn't hard for us to figure out the one we should try first, as page one of Good Housekeeping Institute was marked with a handwritten note, "chicken pie 96." Page 96 was the only page bookmarked. Page 96 was also the only one marked with another handwritten note, "good pie." Great Grandma Lauer couldn't have given us any clearer of a sign. 

chicken pie || planting my roots

What wasn't as clear was what side to pair with this "good pie." We knew we'd need something light and with texture to contrast with the warm, soft biscuit topping and vegetable sauce. We weren't totally sure what sides Grandma Lauer preferred, but a chopped kale salad at the salad bar kept catching our eye. It marked all the boxes for us - crunchy, fresh and bright. It also seemed easy enough for us to recreate!

kitchen sink salad || planting my roots

With that as our "launchpad," the salad took on a life of its own with some other ingredients we picked up along the way - a fresh pomegranate instead of dried cranberries, thinly sliced radishes for extra crunch, and crumbled goat cheese with apricot and thyme. One thing that stayed the same was the matchstick carrots - doesn't that seem identical at every salad bar??

kitchen sink salad || planting my roots
kitchen sink salad || planting my roots
kitchen sink salad || planting my roots

This salad is worthy of the title "Kitchen Sink Salad" for two reasons: 1) Essentially all prep can happen over the kitchen sink if you have a big colander and 2) The recipe is forgiving enough that you can toss in everything...but the kitchen sink. You can swap red onions for radishes for a bit of bite and crunch. Kale can easily be substituted with any other leafy green. If you prefer cranberries to pomegranate seeds, go for it! The sky (err fridge) is the limit. 

kitchen sink salad || planting my roots

The first step is to grab a large colander and place it in the sink. Then, chop the kale into bite size pieces and toss into colander. Rinse thoroughly and shake dry. As remaining water dries on kale leaves, prep your other ingredients and toss them into the colander as each one is prepared - peel and matchstick the carrots, thinly slice the radishes, deseed the pomegranate, chop the dates and crumble the goat cheese. This does require a bit of prep work, so think of it as good meditative time or turn on your favorite album. Enjoy the process.

When you're ready to serve, toss in the walnuts and a dressing of your choice. I've paired it with both a raspberry vinaigrette and cherry balsamic dressing. Something fruity pairs well with these flavors, but I think a poppy seed dressing could also work wonderfully. As with the other ingredients in this recipe, the dressing is also chef's choice - it is forgiving!

kitchen sink salad || planting my roots

Kitchen Sink Salad

serves 4

what you'll need:
1 head kale, roughly chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 pound carrots
1/2 pound radishes
seeds from 1/2 of a pomegranate
1/2 cup mejdool dates or apricots, roughly chopped
3-4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup walnuts
salad dressing, to taste (recommend flavors of raspberry, cherry or poppy seed)

what you'll do:

  1. In large colander, rinse chopped kale. While kale is drying, rinse carrots and finely chop into small matchsticks. Rinse and thinly slice radishes into quarters or bite size pieces. Add both to colander.
  2. Remove seeds from 1/2 of a pomegranate, dropping directly into the colander.
  3. Add chopped dates or apricots to colander, then add crumbled goat cheese. Finally, use hands to toss all ingredients in colander. Pour into large serving bowl. 
  4. If eating immediately, toss in walnuts and dressing of choice to taste. Mix thoroughly and serve. If making in advance, add walnuts and dressing when ready to serve. This salad can be made one day in advance. 

quick pickle stacked sandwich

mastering the art of pickling has been on my bucket list for nearly two years now. but, i'm not the most patient person in the world, so i've settled for quick pickle recipes as kinda, sorta checking this skill off my list. also, until i move out of my one bedroom apartment, i have a feeling space will continue to hold me back from shelves and shelves of pickled and preserved foods...le sigh. 

so, what is quick pickling? it's a super simple shortcut to getting the tang, brine and crunch we love in pickled foods, but doing it in just a few hours. starting to quick pickle is a slippery slope, though, so don't say i didn't warn you. once i learned how to do red onions (thanks, bon appetit!), next it was multicolored carrots...then it was cauliflower...then it was radishes. i couldn't look at crunchy vegetable without instantly becoming a portlandia episode of "we can pickle that!" irl. 

quick pickled radishes || planting my roots
quick pickle radishes || planting my roots

all you need on hand is the vegetable of your choice (in this case, radishes), a vinegar, such as white or apple cider vinegar, your preferred spices/herbs and white sugar. for my herb/spice mix, i really like ball's mixed pickling spice, which will only set you back about $4 and makes this process even quicker. i really like ginger for pickled carrots, for example, but use no spices/herbs at all for pickled red onion. the complexity and flavor is totally up to you, and thekitchn has a great guide to some flavor combinations. 

recipes range from calling for a few days until quick pickles are ready to just 20 minutes. for this sandwich, i let the radishes sit for about 5 hours, but i think ideally you should wait at least 24 hours to really let the vinegar do its magic. you'll be rewarded with a hot pink bounty of veggies.

pickled radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich || planting my roots
pickled radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich || planting my roots

to complement the peppery radishes, i've layered cumin- and garlic-roasted sweet potato rounds, smooth hummus, coarse dijon mustard and fresh spinach. if you have extra hummus on hand, you can use it as a dip for the pickled radishes, as well as the sweet potato rounds if you crisp them up a bit longer in the oven.

all in all, this sandwich is bursting with flavor and color, and makes for a wonderful lunchtime toast. it's also a testament to DIY cooking, as nearly every single element of this sandwich was homemade - from the bread to the picked radishes, and everything in between. short of growing the spinach and making the mustard yourself, there's a lot of homemade pride packed into each layer.

pickled radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich || planting my roots

quick pickle radish, sweet potato and hummus sandwich

makes two sandwiches or four toasts

what you'll need:

for quick pickle radish:
1 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp pickling spices
1/3 cup white sugar
6-7 radishes, thinly sliced (8 oz)

for sweet potato rounds:
2 large sweet potatoes, thinly sliced into rounds
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

for rest of sandwich/toast:
4 slices of good bread (stacked for sandwich, open face for toast)
1/2 cup fresh spinach
1/2 cup hummus, store-bought or homemade recipe here
4 tbsp coarse dijon mustard
 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

what you'll do: 

to prepare quick pickle radishes:

  1. to make pickling liquid, pour 1 cup water, white vinegar, pickling spices and sugar into small saucepan. over medium heat, whisk until sugar dissolves. 
  2. pour pickling liquid into clean glass jar over radishes. let sit on counter until cool, then move to fridge to rest for at least 5 hours.

to prepare sweet potato rounds:

  1. in a large sauce pan, dump in sweet potatoes rounds and cover with water. heat water to 160° fahrenheit. keep this heat consistent as you cover and set aside for 1 hour.
  2. while sweet potatoes rest in water, place oven rack in upper middle positions. preheat oven to 400° fahrenheit. drain sweet potatoes, then pour into large bowl. toss with extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, cumin and kosher salt and black pepper, adjusting for taste.
  3. pour sweet potatoes across a baking sheet in single layer and roast until bottom side is browned, about 30 minutes. remove from oven and carefully flip each sweet potato round to the other side. place back in oven and roast for about 15-20 more minutes.
  4. remove from oven and let cool.

to assemble sandwich/toasts:

  1. lightly toast all four slices of bread in a pan or cast iron skillet with extra virgin olive oil. toast until golden brown. remove from cast iron skillet, and layer hummus, coarse dijon mustard, spinach, sweet potato rounds and pickled radishes. layer on all four slices for toasts, or on just two slices for sandwiches.