At Boqueria, one of New York City’s most-popular Spanish tapas joints, Chef Marc Vidal goes a long way to transport diners to Barcelona’s bustling and beautiful Boqueria market. He serves a menu of Spanish classics like patatas bravas, albondigas, croquetas and gambas alla ajillo. But he also loves to cook with the seasons. Every Friday morning, Vidal grabs a cup of coffee and heads to the Union Square Greenmarket where he and his team of chefs meet up to peruse the stalls for ingredients and brainstorm for the restaurant’s ever-changing Market Menu. “We just walk around and see what’s going on,” says Vidal, whose parents were restaurateurs in Barcelona. “The market menu is the fun part for us. It’s our chance to be creative and work with the seasons.”
Braised Collard Greens and Butternut Squash
Take a break from kale and cook up some collards, the Southern staple that happens to be a nutritional powerhouse. Sweet butternut squash tempers the bitterness of the greens while freshly grated ginger adds a surprising burst of flavor. Read more
In 1997, Franklin Becker was a 27-year-old chef whose star was on the rise. That same year, he was also diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. The disease not only changed the way he ate, but it also changed the way he cooked. Becker, who was most recently the corporate chef of the EMM Group, overseeing menus for New York City restaurants Abe & Arthurs, CATCH and Lexington Brass, learned to use simple ingredients, to cook with more vegetables and to add flavor to food by using good fats such as olive oil, nuts and avocados.”I realized that if certain ingredients were bad for me to eat, they were probably not great for my guests to eat either,” Becker says.
They used to be the stuff that fueled childhood nightmares: forkfuls of overcooked broccoli or endless orbs of bitter Brussels sprouts that had to be endured in order to tackle, finally, the chocolate ice cream. But today’s renditions of green vegetables don’t require nose-holding or the camouflage of cheese in order to win over legions of fans. From the once-maligned spinach that only Popeye fancied to the leafy kale that went on to wildly successful oversaturation, here’s a passel of formerly shunned vegetables (and a few equally undesirable fruits) that chefs have helped give miraculous makeovers. Read more
Want That Salad Super-Sized?
Watch out Chipotle, a bevy of smaller fast food chains with a healthy bent may soon be nipping at your heels. Tender Greens, LYFE Kitchen, SweetGreen and Native Foods are all among this new crop of health-conscious regional restaurant franchises luring customers with words like “grass-fed,” “seasonal,’ “sustainable” and “organic.” All are reportedly flourishing, so much so that they’ve already garnered a nickname: “farm-to-counter” eateries. The vegan chain Veggie Grill, for example, hit No. 7 on Restaurant Business magazine’s yearly list of the fastest-growing small chains, while Tender Greens (which took in over $40 million in revenue from only 12 stores) came close behind, at No. 10. Also among those to watch may be LYFE (acronym for Love Your Food Every Day) Kitchen, founded by two former McDonald’s bigwigs. Each restaurant grows herbs, uses china instead of plastic and holds its entrees to a 600 calorie maximum.
Crunchy versions of this leafy green vegetable are taking the chip aisle by storm. There’s no doubt kale is delicious and nutritious — but do its dried spin-offs live up to the hype?
We rated these leafy snacks on a 5-point scale (5 being highest) and judged them on taste, texture, price and nutrition, with special attention paid to stats such as calories and sodium. All of the brands were vegan and gluten-free, but none contained only kale. Most featured various spices and nuts, so it’s worth reading labels carefully, particularly for anyone who has food allergies.
Greens that taste amazing? You better be-leaf it! These healthy, delicious sides will upgrade any main dish, assuming they don’t steal the show first. Consider these takes on spinach, collards and kale the healthiest way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Creamed Spinach (above)
Okay, the term “creamed” is used lightly here, in every sense: Instead of actual cream, a blend of low-fat milk and evaporated milk makes for a rich spinach dish that’s just as satisfying as the original. Enjoy it alongside a seared top round for a guilt-free take on a steakhouse fave.
Kale may get all the glory these days, but collard greens are just as nutrient-dense as those other scene-stealing leafy divas. Give collards a little love by braising them with onions and broth for a bit, then enjoy the meltingly tender result alongside baked chicken or pork tenderloin. (Kale better watch its back.) Read more
In this week’s news: Michelle Obama stumps for kale and more, while the dairy industry shelves its Got Milk campaign; obesity rates for young kids nosedive; and researchers show why Tetris might be good for your waistline.
Kale in the Green Room
Kale — the nation’s perpetually trendy produce item — took its vegetal celebrity to a whole new level last week, getting the late-night spotlight on the new Tonight Show. If First Lady Michelle Obama doing her best ‘tween impression and offering kale chips to a wigs-wearing Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell sounds like fun (and it kinda is), then this is for you.
In this week’s news: Vending machines may soon have to dispense more than just candy bars; nutrition professionals say count kale in (again) for 2014; and a dietitian explains the secret to making realistic New Year’s resolutions.
2014: Kale Still Ready For Its Close-Up
According to a survey of 500 dietitians on diet and nutrition trends for 2014, kale, coconut oil and chia seeds will remain on the scene; ancient grains are the next new thing; “low-fat” diets will lose some of their heft; and nutrition blogs will continue to boom (starting right here, of course).
This is a go-to recipe in my house as it pleases the masses. I serve it cold in the winter and cool in the spring and summer. Swapping ingredients for the greens or herbs makes it perfect for any season. I like getting creative when I make pesto to add flavor and save money. Baby arugula is in season right now; it adds a bold peppery flavor to a pesto. It also cuts cost until basil is really in season. I like the texture of chopped lacinato kale with the farro but any spring green would be great. Grape tomatoes are a great way to enjoy the flavor of a tomato year round. As tomatoes become more seasonal you can opt for a diced tomato straight from your garden instead.