Autumn in a Jar: Kale Salad with Chickpeas, Cherries, and Pecans

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

Sooooo… the government shut down. Yeah, that happened.

Luckily for me, my department is still functioning on something called prior year funding, so I’m not furloughed… yet. As you can imagine, all of my furloughed friends are obviously invited over for dinners.

As it is, spent my lunch  break on Capitol Hill, dropping a Greek salad off for Shaeda. Sucks to be a Hill staffer right now.

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

It’s pretty much your typical, fickle fall in DC right now — we’re bouncing between chilly mornings and warm afternoons. I’m itching for the days when you know you’ll actually need your boots to keep you warm. I’ve been polishing my beloved Frye Taylors, ready to seize the day by all fifty five degrees, my perfect temperature.

You’d never know I was born and raised in California.

Anyway, wherever you are, I hope you’re getting to experience even the slightest change in seasons, because we’re almost at my favorite point in the year. Go apple picking. Snuggle up in a sleeping bag under a meteor shower. Break out the Dutch oven and start braising.

It’s gonna be a chilly fall.

In the meantime, this salad from Sprouted Kitchen is the perfect transition lunch. And, it packs really well in jars. So if you happen to be lucky enough to not be furloughed, go ahead and pack one of these for your government friends. They might be in it for the long haul.

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

 

Kale Chopped Salad, adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Parmesan vinaigrette:
1 small shallot, chopped
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:
Pinch of salt
1 bunch kale (Sara Forte uses Tuscan, but I just grabbed the normal variety at the grocery store)
1 apple — I used a Fiji apple
1 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/3 cup dried cherries

Combine the shallot, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and oil in a food processor. Grind until smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Use a paring knife to cut away the stems from the kale, and finely chop the leaves with a larger chef’s knife. Set aside in a bowl. Core and dice the apple, and then toss with the chickpeas, pecans, and cherries. Go ahead and toss with half of the dressing, adding more if you desire.

If you plan on jarring the salad for lunch, don’t toss it — just layer the dressing at the bottom and keep the kale at the top. The other details don’t mean too much.

Vanilla-Bourbon Cherries

cherries2

Let’s be honest. It’s 2 AM.

I almost poured myself a glass of straight bourbon ten minutes ago. I’ll be working late all week on Google projects, so I really should get to bed (and save the bourbon for a better occasion, perhaps, a real-life handsome stranger).

Anyhoo, there will be plenty of use for these cherries this weekend. We’ll be making Manhattans on Sunday.

I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll have inspiration for a real post tomorrow. In the meantime, happy Tuesday :)

cherries1

cherries4

vanilla

Vanilla-Bourbon Cherries

Fresh cherries — preferably the dark red ones
Lots of bourbon — I use Bulleit, which has vanilla undertones to begin with
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
One vanilla bean per jar of cherries

Wash your cherries over a strainer in the sink, and remove the pits using a cherry pitter. If you’re like me, and too cheap to buy one, just poke them out with the blunt end of a chopstick… carefully. Discard the pits, and set your pitless cherries aside in a bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat the vanilla extract and the sugar until the sugar is all dissolved. With such small measurements, the solution will turn syrupy quickly. We don’t want it too syrupy, so just take the pot off the heat when it starts boiling and the sugar is entirely dissolved.

Now, we want to get vanilla beans into the syrup. I preserve my vanilla beans soaking in vodka (homemade vanilla extract!) which makes it really easy to extract the beans. If you do this too, simply snip off the tip of the bean with scissors or a sharp knife, and squeeze the vanilla beans into the syrup.

If you’re working with dry beans, slice the pod lengthwise, and use a knife to scrape the beans out before stirring them into your syrup.

From this point on, we’re just assembling and waiting. Fill a clean jar with your pitted cherries, and then pour your syrup into the jar. Then, fill whatever space is left in the jar with bourbon. Screw on the top, securing the lid tightly, and give the  jar a shake.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. The cherries should be good for a few weeks. Put them on ice cream, in cocktails, or on a toothpick for a sweet snack.