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Easy dinner recipes: Kale salad three ways and 93 other ideas

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Quickly charred Russian kale gets topped with a bright yogurt dressing flavored with garlic, shallot, fresh mint and a touch of red wine vinegar. Sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts and this salad works well as a simple dinner on its own, served with a cool glass of wine, or a substantial side. Make this recipe from Gjelina chef Travis Lett in less than 30 minutes.

Because of their rather tough texture, greens such as kale are often cooked to tenderize them before serving. But gently rubbing a bright vinaigrette onto the cut greens also works to soften their texture, making for a wonderfully fresh salad with crisp, assertive notes. Top it with a few grilled baby carrots for an extra touch of color and you have a finished dish in under 30 minutes.

Or try this Culinary SOS from Allison Engel in Los Angeles, who writes:

"The chopped kale salad at the Napa Valley Grille in Westwood is the sort of healthy, interesting dish you could eat every day. In fact, a waitress there who recommended it told me she does exactly that. After I ordered it a few times, I saw her point. Can you pry the recipe loose from the restaurant?"

RECIPES: 93 dinner ideas in about an hour or less

Chopped kale and romaine are tossed with quinoa, almonds, raisins and Parmesan cheese, with a bright lemon vinaigrette added just before serving. Napa Valley Grille was happy to share its recipe, which we've adapted below.

You can find all three recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

GRILLED RUSSIAN KALE WITH YOGURT DRESSING AND TOASTED HAZELNUTS

Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from Travis Lett of Gjelina. Lett suggests Russian kale from Coleman Farm or Flora Bella Farm.

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 shallot, very thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

10 mint leaves, chopped

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

3 to 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup raw hazelnuts (skin on)

2 bunches Russian kale, stems removed

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and heat a grill pan over medium-high heat until hot.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, shallot, garlic, mint, one-fourth cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, one-fourth teaspoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper. Adjust the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. This makes about 1½ cups dressing, more than is needed for the remainder of this recipe. The dressing will keep for up to 3 days; keep covered and refrigerated until ready to use.

3. Place the hazelnuts on a jellyroll pan and toast in the oven until fragrant and golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the hazelnuts to a clean, damp kitchen towel and rub to remove the skins. Roughly chop and set aside.

4. Place the greens in a bowl and lightly coat with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Lightly season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Splash with a little cold water to help create steam on the grill. Place the greens on the hottest part of the grill until they slightly char, 1 to 2 minutes depending on the temperature of the grill. Start to move the greens around to avoid burning and continue wilting for another minute or so. They should be slightly charred around the edges and nicely softened in the center. Remove the greens to a large bowl and toss with enough dressing to lightly coat. Divide the salad among 4 serving plates, and divide the hazelnuts among the servings, sprinkling them over each salad. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 303 calories; 8 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 26 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 103 mg sodium.

LITTLE DOM'S TUSCAN KALE SALAD WITH GRILLED HEIRLOOM CARROTS

Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: 2 to 4

Note: Adapted from Little Dom's in Los Angeles

Grilled carrots

Salt

4 baby heirloom carrots, peeled

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt, pepper

1/4 teaspoon coarsely chopped oregano

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1. In a small pot of salted, boiling water, blanch the carrots just until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and shock the carrots in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, then drain and split lengthwise.

2. Toss the carrots in a bowl with the olive oil, one-eighth teaspoon salt, one-eighth teaspoon pepper, oregano and vinegar.

3. On a grill heated over medium-high heat, grill the carrots for grill marks and to warm through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

Salad and assembly

Juice of ½ lemon

Juice of ¼ orange

1/4 teaspoon finely chopped shallots

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt, pepper

1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed and julienned

Grilled carrots

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon and orange juice, shallots, vinegar, oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Toss in the kale, gently rubbing the dressing into the kale (the rubbing will soften the kale slightly).

2. Plate the salad, garnishing each serving with grilled carrots. Take any remaining dressing from the bottom of the bowl and pour over the carrots and salad. Serve immediately.

Each of 4 servings: 188 calories; 4 grams protein; 14 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 14 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 131 mg sodium.

NAPA VALLEY GRILLE'S KALE CHOPPED SALAD

Total time: 45 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

Note: Adapted from Napa Valley Grille in Westwood.

Lemon Vinaigrette

Juice of 3 lemons and grated zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 anchovy fillet, minced

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 basil leaves, cut in thin strips

Sea salt

Finely ground pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, shallot, anchovy, cheese and basil. Season to taste with one-fourth teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon pepper. This makes slightly more than one-half cup vinaigrette, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.

Kale salad

1/4 cup quinoa

1 romaine heart, chopped

1 head green kale, chopped

1/4 cup almonds, toasted

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Lemon vinaigrette

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse under cool running water to remove the outer coating of the quinoa (if not rinsed, the coating can give the quinoa a bitter flavor). Place the rinsed quinoa in a dry saute pan and toast, stirring frequently, until the quinoa is dry, lightly colored, and has a nutty aroma.

3. Place the toasted quinoa in the saucepan with the water, reduce the heat and simmer the quinoa until it is translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, 12 to 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Drain the quinoa and spread it out on a baking sheet to cool.

4. In a large bowl, combine the romaine, kale, quinoa, almonds, raisins and Parmesan cheese. Add one-fourth cup vinaigrette and toss to lightly coat. Add additional vinaigrette as desired, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Each of 6 servings: 170 calories; 5 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 5 grams sugar; 153 mg sodium.

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