I’ve tried very hard to resist it, but next weekend, we’ll be hosting a gathering for Rob’s family. I think I am most nervous about all the unpacking I still want to do instead of the menu!
You see, I have been learning from the master. I consulted my mom about her recommendations for feeding 10.
For salads, she suggested a leafy green salad and another heartier salad (be it bean-, grain- or vegetable-based). Only one dip for vegetables. Meat for the barbecue. In addition to fruit for dessert, add a baked good.
Sounds like a good plan, indeed.
You’d think I was the Queen of Salads, but I still want to try something new. Instead of experimenting on my guests, I decided to audition my salads.
I figured the Polish crowd would love a cucumber salad, and made a super cute cucumber ribbon salad with a ginger-lemongrass dressing. Rob liked it but it did not pass my test. It wasn’t special enough; nothing really stood out despite using interesting ingredients. Blocked. Not fit for company.
Next up, something to try-out for the bean salad. Attempt #2: Creamy Cashew Kale and Chickpeas.
Adapted from Cara’s Cravings, who based hers off of Susan’s at Fat Free Vegan, this is a deceptively decadent dish. A creamy cashew-based garlic sauce coats wilted kale speckled with sweet red bell pepper and chickpeas. I preferred it fresh and warm from the stove top, but the leftovers were great at room temperature, too.
Despite seemingly unorthodox, it tastes great. My raw kale salad was a hit with the gang last time. I really thought this could be a contender for the party.
But I am trying to limit myself to one heavier salad and I think the 11-Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Currants wins this round. I think they will prefer the lentil salad, a bit more “normal” and with all the flavour you want. It is also more simple to prepare in advance.
This dish will have to wait until I go to my next potluck (any takers on who wants to host the next one?? I’ve claimed the salad!).
Now I am still considering what to make for dessert. I have an idea, but open to your suggestions with your favourite desserts. :)
Creamy Cashew Kale and Chickpeas
1/3 cup (2 oz) raw cashews, soaked overnight
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 cup vegetable broth (I used the chickpea cooking liquid)
1 tsp coconut oil (or other oil)
1 large onion, diced (1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, diced (2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1.5-2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
1 bunch kale, central stems removed and leaves thinly sliced (6 oz prepped)
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes, to taste (I would use more next time)
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Drain the cashews and place in high speed blender or food processor with the garlic. Blend until mostly smooth, drizzle in the broth to create a smooth sauce and set aside.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the coconut oil and cook the onion and pepper for 5-7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chickpeas. Increase heat to high, and add the kale and 2-3 tablespoons of water (if needed), stirring to combine everything. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until kale is tender.
3. Stir in the reserved cashew sauce, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes, until sauce thickens.