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Easy dinner recipes: Kale salad three ways for Meatless Monday

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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.

Little Dom's Tuscan kale salad with grilled carrots: Toss the rich greens with a fresh, simple dressing and top with a few grilled baby carrots for an extra touch of color. Dinner is ready in under 30 minutes.

Kale salad with farro, dried fruit and blue cheese: Colorful kale is tossed with nutty farro, softened dried fruit and tangy blue cheese for a colorful and filling dinner option.

RECIPES: Delicious, quick and easy

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpu

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpuf

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpu

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpuf

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpuNapa Valley Grille's kale chopped salad: Chopped kale and romaine are tossed with quinoa, almonds, raisins and Parmesan cheese, with a bright lemon vinaigrette added just before serving.

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.

MORE RECIPES: 99 more easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

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.

KALE SALAD WITH FARRO, DRIED FRUIT AND BLUE CHEESE

Total time: 1 hour

Servings: 4 to 6

1/4 cup farro

Water

Salt

1/4 cup mixed dried fruit (such as sour cherries, cranberries, raisins)

1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier

1 pound kale (about 2 bunches)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

2 tablespoons minced red onion

2 tablespoons chopped toasted pecans

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Toast the farro in a dry medium saucepan over medium heat until it smells nutty and turns golden, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water and bring to a simmer. Season with one-half teaspoon salt and cook until the farro is tender but still a little chewy, about 45 minutes. Drain (there will probably still be some liquid left), rinse under cold running water and gently pat dry in a kitchen towel.

2. Place the dried fruit in a small bowl with the Grand Marnier. Add just enough warm water to cover and set aside until softened, about 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can microwave them for 30 seconds and let stand for 5 minutes.

3. Remove and discard the stems from the kale. Chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon salt and the olive oil. Grab the leaves by the handfuls and massage them roughly. Don't be timid. After a minute or two, the coarse, stiff leaves will turn soft and silky. You'll have about half the volume of kale you started with.

4. Drain the dried fruit and add it to the kale, along with the cooked farro, blue cheese, red onion, pecans and vinegar. Toss to mix well, then season to taste with black pepper and more salt and vinegar, if necessary.

Each of 6 servings: 127 calories; 4 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 6 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 4 mg cholesterol; 5 grams sugar; 688 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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