On the Road to the Enchanted Salad

Kale. Broccoli. Beets. Collard greens. Butternut squash. Spinach. Cauliflower.

With the arrival of cooler nights, these colorful and nutritional powerhouses are so close, I can almost taste them. When the seasons change, my mind is aflutter with creative ideas on new ways to cook with fall crops.

Couple that reality with an impending getaway and my mind is overflowing with flavors and textures of the incredible foods I am going to enjoy while I am in one of my all-time favorite cities. Situated in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Sante Fe is a food lover's paradise.

It's David birthday and we're going for the climate, culture, food, architecture, tranquility and the smell of piñon in the air. Not necessarily in that order, but to find a small city that is sophisticated, smart and yet still not overpopulated--nor completely ruined with fast food chains, billboards everywhere and big box stores--is my idea of heaven on earth.

To prepare for our trip, I have made a list of restaurants we must visit. Cafe Pasqual's is always on my hit list for breakfast--which is conveniently served all day. Geronimo's is another restaurant we always return to and this is where we will celebrate David's birthday. There's a gluten-free bakery called Revolution that I want to check out, along with a few other spots.

While the food scene in Santa Fe is amazing and continuously evolving, Vinaigrette is on the top of my list, and has been for a few years and I can hardly wait to experience this place that I have heard about from so many viable sources.

Imagine a real, sustainable-farm-to-fork-veggie-centric-restaurant serving spectacular, creative and healthy salads topped with savory proteins, hearty sandwiches, soups and homemade desserts. This is so my kind of place...

Owned by Erin Wade, a Harvard graduate, much of the produce served in the restaurant is grown on her 10-acre farm in Nambe called Los Portales. The success of the Santa Fe location spawned a second location in Albuquerque earlier this year.

While researching the restaurant's menu and website, serendipity lead me to the All-Kale Caesar Salad recipe featured in the August issue of Organic Spa magazine. Considering how much we love our Aspen kale salad, traditional Caesar salad and our newest spin on Caesar salad, I knew this was going to be another salad that became a staple in our house.

With a rating of "four thumbs up" (and the reality of having made it three times in one week), this salad is a healthy way to generate even more excitement for our getaway. In the event that Santa Fe is not on your list of future destination vacations, you can still enjoy this absolutely delicious creation that is a perfect mix of kale and Caesar.

Just close your eyes and imagine you are in the Land of Enchantment.

Buen provecho!
Mostly Kale Caesar Salad
The Cowgirl Gourmet adapted this recipe from Vinaigrette's version served in Santa Fe, New Mexico

You know I love salads and you know I love kale. So when I landed on this recipe, I loved it but knew I needed to tweak it a little to ensure that David loved it just as much. Rather than use all kale as the recipe calls for, I used half kale and half Romaine hearts. And we both fell in love with this salad. Crispy. Crunchy. Cold. It was a meal. Add a little protein and you're all set. Let the salad sit in the fridge for a half hour or so before serving and the flavors will meld and the salad will wilt just enough.

Serves 4 as salads or 2 as entrees

Zingy Lemon-Anchovy Vinaigrette
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
6 anchovy filets and a bit of the oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (white wine vinegar will also work, but champagne is better)
1 tablespoon creamy Dijon mustard
About 1/2 cup of olive oil (start with less and add more if needed)
1 tablespoon water
1 medium shallot or half a big one
Salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients, except the shallot, in the blender and emulsify.
Then mince the shallot, Pour the dressing in a jar and stir in the shallot.

1/2 bunch curly kale, stems and ribs removed
1 heart of Romaine
2/3 cup Marcona almonds, chopped (I used both the dried and wet marconas and prefer the ones in the oil)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
After you remove the stems and ribs from the kale, roll the kale leaves up together like a cigar and chiffionade the leaves to make thin, thin strips. Chiffonade the Romaine as well and place both the kale and Romaine in a big bowl. Add almonds and Parmesan and toss. Add some of the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Taste and add more vinaigrette if needed.
Place the dressed salad in the fridge for 10-30 minutes to chill and so the flavors meld. Serves four as salads and two as entrees. Top with grilled shrimp or chicken for a healthy meal.
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