A few months ago, I received an exciting email from a woman named Tracey Medeiros. Tracey lives in Vermont and is a freelance food writer, food stylist, recipe developer and tester. She is quite frankly, my dream job personified. She had found me on the internet and, noticing that I’m a food-oriented person from Vermont, asked if I would like a copy of her latest cookbook The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook. Once my palpable envy of her career/life subsided, I responded with an obvious and extremely grateful “YES and thank you!” The truth is that I already owned her first wonderful cookbook Dishing up Vermont. It was one of those cookbooks that I’d flipped through over and over again. The charming pictures of Vermont farm animals, inns, restaurants and the beautiful dishes it’s chefs had created with the local and seasonal produce, cheese, eggs, meat and poultry would make me hungry and homesick all at once. When I received The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook in the mail from Tracey’s publicist, it had the same effect on me. With a strong urge to make hearty winter dishes like Vermont Cheddar Soup, Sauteed Sea Scallops in a Smoked Bacon and Maple Cream Sauce and Amber Ale-Braised Highland Chuck Beef Roast, I ignored the 90 degree weather and the palm trees swaying outside the window of my Los Angeles apartment and headed to my local farmers market. The results, albeit weather-inappropriate were always delicious.
Now, several months later, I am here in this magical moment in Vermont known as late June. The mountains are more verdant than ever, the buttercups are decorating the fields like yellow sprinkles on a bright green cake, the humid heat of summer has not yet arrived but the cold is long gone. The sun seems like it will never set and a cool breeze makes for restful nights. So what better time to continue cooking from my new favorite Vermont cookbook? And seeing as I was married last weekend here amidst the glory of the green mountains and proceeded to happily indulge in food (I can’t seem seem to get enough cheese!!) and beverage, it seemed appropriate to eat a salad made of local kale.
Almost of the ingredients for this refreshing and nourishing salad were purchased at the East Warren Community Market in Warren, Vermont. This is my all-time favorite place to buy food. Everything on the shelves is made locally with love and the store is so perfectly curated that the manager once told me that she didn’t carry a certain kind of popcorn because she didn’t like the packaging. The feta I used is from Maplebrook Farms in Bennington, Vermont and I substituted pine nuts for the pepitas.
Massaged Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing
by Tracey Medeiros
- 1/3 cup pepitas (or walnuts or sunflower seeds)
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 bunch green kale, stemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup Asian Peanut Dressing (recipe follows)
- 2 small peaches, pitted and diced
- 2 ounces Maplebrook Farm feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
Place the pepitas, oil and salt in a medium skillet and toss to coat. Toast over medium heat until the pepitas turn light brown and start to pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside on paper towels.
In a large bowl, combine the kale and 1/2 of the dressing. Using your hands, massage the kale until it is bright green and slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes, adding more dressing to taste. Top with the pepitas, peaches and feta. Serve at once.
Asian Peanut Dressing
Makes 1 1/3 cups
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 4 teaspoons grated ginger
- 4 teaspoons sesame oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
Whisk together all the ingredients until combined.