reinventing the wheel

I tend to muse iteratively: if one idea works, maybe a variation on it might work, as well. In this way I've eventually arrived at a standardized salad dressing. It's one I can make in my sleep (essentially a garlic-lemon tahini dressing).

We've been growing kale in our greenhouse. (Did I mention we built a greenhouse?) Lacinto, or black, kale, to be exact. It's going like gangbusters, so it's kale-everything around here. Even as a vegetarian, a dinner of kale salad (for the nth day in a row) can sound underwhelming, so I've taken to whipping up a bit of curried rice to go with it. After a few tries of that, I thought I'd tweak my dressing—swapping out the tahini for greek yogurt, in order to compliment the curry more. 

It worked fabulously. There was something nagging the back of my mind I had to acknowledge, at some point: I'd just reinvented Tangy Ranch Dressing™. I can't tell you how much this idea upsets me—not the least part in how I now can't seem to stop making it. So what follows is a very loose recipe for kale salad, with curry rice and my own re-ranch dressing.

½ cup greek yogurt
1 shallot, minced
½ lime, juiced

1 cup rice
2 cups vegetable stock
1 small yellow onion, halved and sliced
1 tsp curry
½ tsp garam marsala
½ tsp turmeric

1 bunch lacinto (black or italian) kale, washed and torn
¼ cup blanched sliced almonds

olive oil
crushed red pepper

Start by heating the onion, covered, in the pot destined for your rice, over medium low heat. While that's going toast the sliced almonds in a dry, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Keep a close eye on them as they'll go from browned to burnt in a heartbeat. When they're good and toasty, just set 'em aside.

The onion should be softened by now, so stir in a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Once it starts to caramelize, add the rice and stir frequently, toasting the grains lightly. Add the stock and spices. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes or so (assuming it's white rice).

While the rice is cooking, whip the yogurt with the shallot, lime juice, a tablespoon of olive oil, a half-teaspoon each of salt and pepper (plus more to taste). Just let that sit.

Once the rice is done, it's all just a matter of assembly. Distribute the kale among some bowls and pile some rice on it. Hit it with a healthy portion of the yogurt dressing, then garnish it with some toasted almonds and enjoy.

I usually make a full cup of rice, and you probably won't use that much on a pair of salads. This lets me save some for other dinners, or if you're really adventurous, you can make a kale and curried rice omelet with goat cheese for a weekend breakfast. Most people raise their eyebrows at rice in omelets, but give it a try.

Considering this post was all about (inadvertently) recreating ranch dressing, I thought I would include a soundtrack of nothing but cover tunes.