Gluten-free Vegan Almond Kale Recipe and Calafia Palo Alto Review

February 5th, 2012 yum Posted in Bay Area, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Kale, Nuts, Soy Free, Vegan 11 Comments »


This winter has been a hard one for our family at the house of yum. It seems like every week, Toddler Yum comes down with a new illness. The most recent one resulted in my mom and then me coming down with a miserable case of pneumonia. I would certainly like to give my lungs a piece of my mind. What do they think they are doing, throwing in the towel and inviting buggies in to build a home like that? It did make me think a bit about what I should be doing, rather than what I have been doing, to maintain my health. For example… I have to admit, although I’ve never been that much of a sweets girl, ever since I got pregnant with Toddler Yum, I have developed something of a chocolate habit. I like the dark stuff, mind you, none of that nasty sickeningly sweet candy bar or drugstore chocolate box chocolates for me! But still, even though dark chocolate supposedly has some beneficial properties, it contains sugar that I know very well doesn’t do anything good for me. In fact, when I eat sugar, the crash makes me cranky and feel a little bit like someone is scratching my brain, ever so annoyingly. Do any of you ever get that feeling? Maybe it is just me.

But anyway, getting sick and not having the energy to cook good (or bad) food for myself did make me think about my diet and the things that I know are good for me and make me feel good. I stopped the chocolate habit cold turkey, and turned towards the good stuff. Kale is one of those things that makes me feel good. I like to buy it from Whole Foods because they have organic kale in all kinds of varieties, or even better, from the Farmer’s Market when it is in season. The other day, though, the DH took me to my follow up-checkup on my lungs (because he is a sweetie) and I was feeling so much better that we decided to get lunch out together.


Calafia Cafe

Town & Country Village Suite 130
855 El Camino Real (at Embarcadero Road)
Palo Alto California
(650) 322-9200

I had read about Calafia Palo Alto being a good restaurant with a gluten-free menu, and I’d passed it numerous times in the Palo Alto Town and Country square, but I’d never actually eaten there. Half of the restaurant is a deli, and I’m easily intimidated by delis. However, the other half of the restaurant is a nice, sit-down restaurant with menus, and we decided to get a table. I was happy to see the gluten-free labeml on many of their dishes, but weirdly enough, I was even happier to see that they split the menu in half between vegetarian and omnivore options. They even labeled their vegan dishes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t actually that hungry because I had eaten a very full and nutritious breakfast (leftover Dal made my the DH the night before, my hero!). But I decided to order their Braised Greens with Almond Butter, which they describe on their menu as: “rainbow swiss chard, sautéed with shallots, glazed with cider vinegar and finished with a vegan turmeric scented almond butter,
dried cranberries and walnuts.” The small dish that arrived wasn’t very dramatic, but when I took a bite I could literally feel my blood being supercharged with nutrition. The funny thing is, I wasn’t completely in love with the balance of flavor. I could taste cayenne more than turmeric in the almond butter, and was a trifle spicy for me after years of cooking for a DH with a sensitive tummy and now a toddler who despises spiciness. At the same time, I felt so good as I ate it and I was ultimately very happy with it. It was also novel because it was both like something I might cook for myself but at the same time not with the exact balance of flavor I would choose. How often can you go out to eat and feel like you’re getting a more nutritious meal than you would have at home? That is why I fell in love with this restaurant and would go back in a heartbeat. They had an intriguing assortment of specialty smoothie beverages, and tons of entrees and other dishes marked gluten-free and vegetarian. The DH was also happy, although he ordered a gluten menu item of what he called a “salad pizza”- a pizza with goat and blue cheese with a gorgeous pile of arugula on top. (They don’t offer gluten-free pizza, but plenty of other places do so I didn’t mind.)

I did some reading and found out that Calafia was started by a chef named Charlie Ayers that was the head chef at Google for six years after being a caterer for the Grateful Dead. Not only that, but he has his own book called Food 2.0: Secrets from the Chef Who Fed Google. According to the booklist description, “Raw, organic, and fermented is Charlie s mantra, which is reflected in more than 90 easy-to-prepare recipes, whether it s a Kick-start Breakfast, a Power Lunch, or a Light, Bright Dinner. And, following the world-famous formula Charlie used at Google headquarters, the meals and snacks are designed to feed your brain exactly what it needs at different points throughout the workday.” It has been a while since I went to a restaurant that I found as exciting as this one, and after reading more about the chef I can understand why. It isn’t a raw-foods cookbook, and not even a vegetarian cookbook, but I was intrigued enough by the description that I ordered a used copy for myself. I’ll let you know how I like it!

Anyway, their braised green recipe with almond sauce was a delightful restaurant offering and also got me thinking about how I might try my own (very different) version when I brought home some tasty organic kale from the farmer’s market this weekend. Here’s my take on it, which met with approval from my omnivorous dad and allergy-sensitive mother. Toddler Yum found it to be too much green for her, but since she scarfs down raw broccoli, cauliflower, and roasted chickpeas, I think I’ll overlook this temporary disdain for kale. It took me some years to develop a love affair with kale, after all, and now it is my favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu item! I hope you enjoy this recipe for a vegan almond sauce kale recipe as much as we did.

Looking for more kale-almond recipes?
Addictive Vegan Kale Salad
Kale Almond Pesto
Almond Crunch Kale Chips
Chopped Kale Salad with Toasted Almonds
Just Plain Scrumptious Kale Recipes:
Cashew Creamed Kale Recipe
Kale and toor Dal
Kale in Puttanesca Sauce
Gluten-free Cornmeal Dumplings with Red Beans and Kale
Gluten-free Stuffing with Kale, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms
Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins
Vegetarian Lasagna with Kale and Cheese
Feta Breakfast Kale

Hey, I’m in the running for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Vegan and Vegetarian Mom Blogger Award!

You can vote once per blog every 24 hours until February 14th at 8pm EST. I’d love to make it to the final count!

Almond Butter Kale Recipe
Ingredients
2 tsp. grapeseed or olive oil
1 small to medium bunch of kale, rinsed and dried with spine cut out, chopped
3 tbsp. diced onion

sauce:
1/4 cup roasted almond butter
2 tbsp. hot water or more for desired texture
1 tsp. agave nectar, maple syrup, honey (look for neutral flavored honey), or simple syrup
1 tsp. lime or lemon juice
herbamare or your favorite salt blend
dash cayenne pepper or paprika

Directions
Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet on medium high and add your chopped kale leaves. I like to pan fry them until they get browned and dry in patches, but you can cook them to your preference. When almost done, add your diced onion to the pan and saute until translucent.

Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Add more hot water if needed to have a sauce you can pour.

When kale and onions are done, put into an attractive bowl and drizzle generously with sauce. Fold sauce into the kale until evenly distributed and serve.

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Gluten-free St. Patrick’s Day: Leek Kale Cabbage Colcannon Recipe

March 17th, 2011 yum Posted in Dinner Party, Kale, Nut Free, Party Food, Potatoes, Rice Free, Soy Free, St. Patricks Day, Vegan Option 9 Comments »

I have to admit, I have never had green beer. Back when I was a college student, they hadn’t come out with all the wonderful gluten-free beers that are out today. Root beer was my brown bottled beverage of choice, and I never got my ID checked to buy it, which somehow takes all the fun out of it. And, even more of a shame is the fact that despite all my travels, I’ve never been to Ireland. I hear my family has some Irish ancestry, though. And, given my pale skin, hazel green eyes, and intolerance to gluten, I can believe it. This might be why I love the idea of St. Patrick’s Day, and love the idea of having a dinner menu that celebrates a culture halfway around the globe from us. You know me, I’ll take any excuse to explore an international cuisine!

Previously I’ve made a delicious vegan pot pie and dill bread to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I love these recipes, but this year I wanted to do a little something different, so I started searching online. Once I came across an Irish dish called Colcannon made from potatoes, cabbage, or kale my mission was clear. I needed to make this lovely dish in celebration of my deep love for that most healthful of emerald-green veggies, kale. But I also needed to make it a bit rich and naughty so my green-leafy veggie reluctant husband would enjoy it too. Thus I used copious amounts of butter and salt, and even dipped into Baby Yum’s organic whole milk, to create something rich enough to qualify as celebration fare. If you are feeling a bit more health conscious than I am, or have a more greens-enthused family, feel free to cut down on the butter (or use a vegan substitute such as margarine or coconut oil) and use the salt more sparingly. Keep in mind that the seasonings on the green flavor the plain potato as well, and go forth and experiment. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do, and as much as I suspect my potato-obsessed Baby Yum will tonight for dinner.

I’m cooking at my in-law’s house in Boulder, Colorado this week. It always feels like a holiday cooking at someone else’s house- as long as they have the gluten contained. (My in-laws are very careful about keeping gluten away from us, bless them!)

I don’t think I cook with cabbage near enough. It is surprisingly tasty in Japanese okonomiyaki, savory cabbage pancakes/ pizza, and equally good with an Indian spiced-treatment of caramelized onions and golden cabbage. I’ve even had it in a delightful raw sesame oil salad- so yummy and good for you! You can’t even see the cabbage in the end product. Good for cabbage-haters!


Looking for more gluten-free vegetarian recipes for St. Patrick’s Day?
*Colcannon Puffs at Fat Free Vegan
*
Gluten-free Irish Coffee Cupcakes at Simply Gluten-free
*Elana’s Gluten-free St. Patricks Day Recipes, including one for Irish Soda Bread (yummy) and Peppermint Patties
*Vegan Spinach Pie Recipe from the Book of Yum
*Karina’s Delicious Gluten-free Irish Soda Bread Recipe
*Vegan Colcannon Casserole at Manifest Vegan
*Dairy-free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream with a surprise from Gluten Free Easily

Vegetarian Colcannon with kale cabbage and leeks Recipe
Ingredients
8 small potatoes, washed with eyes removed
3 tbsp. butter (or Earth Balance margaarine for vegan)
3 leeks, green tops removed, with white part sliced in half horizontally, soaked in water and then drained and chopped into 1/4 inch crescents
1/4 small cabbage, quartered and then thinly sliced
handful of de-veined kale, cut into bite size slices
copious amounts of salt and pepper
Generous glug of the highest fat milk in your house (hey, this is holiday food)- unsweetened plain non-dairy soy, almond or rice milk for vegan

Sunny Paris or other shallot-or-onion + dill herbal blend (optional)

Directions
Quarter potatoes and boil in a pot for 30 minutes or until soft enough to mash

Heat one tablespoon of butter in a pan on medium and add about 2 leeks worth of chopped crescent shapes, sauteeing until softened. Add your kale and an additional 1/2 tbsp. of butter. Sautee for a minute or so. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then add a dash of water, covering the pan and lowering the heat. Let cook on low for 10-20 minutes, covered, or until kale is buttery soft and leeks are nicely caramelized. Remove to a bowl. Melt another tbsp. of butter in the pan on medium heat and add your remaining leek crescents. Sautee for a minute or two and then add your thinly sliced cabbage. Cook your cabbage for about five minutes, and then add your remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter, generous amounts of salt and pepper to your taste, lower heat and cover until you have nice caramelized leeks and very soft, buttery cabbage with light browning. You may wish to turn the cabbage once during this.

While the cabbage mixture is cooking on the stove-top, mash your potatoes with a masher and add your glug of rich milk. Fold the leek-kale mixture into the potatoes gently. When the cabbage-leek mixture is done, you can add it to the potatoes as well. Don’t over-stir; you want the potatoes to have a slightly lumpy, rustic presentation.

Sprinkle with a dill-onion type herbal blend and serve.

Serve in a pretty piece of pottery as a side dish for a St. Patrick’s Day themed feast!

Notes
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