Kale, Tomato, and Cheese Curd Salad

[Please excuse the poorly-lit iPhone photos.]

I stopped by the farmer’s market this weekend to pick up some peppers for our Sunday afternoon of pickling and canning. In the process, I came across these cute little cherry tomatoes. And kale. And in my search for some type of cheese to throw into this evolving salad, I bought some cheese curds.

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It may seem like a strange combo, but it was really tasty. Be careful when adding the salt because cheese curds are pretty salty already. Eric and I ate this, walked around the neighborhood a bit, then came back and canned 13 jars worth of pickles and pickled peppers. If they turn out like I think they will, I’ll share the recipe on here.

Eric also got his first lesson in mandolin technique when slicing the cucumbers. About two minutes after I showed him how to use it and warned him to be very careful not to chop his finger off – you guessed it – he sliced the top of his finger off. The cukes were fine, though, and so was he. As for me, my eyes burned putting my contacts in this morning from the pepper oils that are still on my fingers, but I think it will be worth it.

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Kale, Tomato, and Cheese Curd Salad

1 bunch Lacinato kale, finely shredded
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cup squeaky cheese curds, chopped into small chunks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh cayenne pepper or other spicy pepper, minced
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste

In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, kale, and cheese curds. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, pepper, and lemon. Dress the salad to your liking and season to taste with salt.

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Yogurt Cheese

I have made this yogurt cheese from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking twice now. I still don’t fully understand the difference between this and Greek yogurt, except that there is even less water content in yogurt cheese than there is in Greek-style yogurt. But still, what makes it cheese?

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Either way, it’s good! Eric and I have been eating it on crackers, but it’d also be good slathered on some toasted french bread. The combinations of spices are endless, but I’ve been sticking with my new favorite spice of the moment, turmeric. Add in some really fruity olive oil and fresh black pepper, and you have a snack worthy of those moments when you’re procrastinating on writing a paper related to healthcare in Nicaragua.

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Yogurt Cheese with Turmeric, Olive Oil, and Black Pepper

adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking

1 32-ounce container plain yogurt (I have been loving Brown Cow brand)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Double line a strainer with cheese cloth and place the strainer over a bowl. Pour the entire container of yogurt in and let strain for 8-12 hours, depending on how thick you want it to be. After 12 hours, I had almost two cups of liquid when mine was done. Transfer to another bowl and mix in the turmeric, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to allow the flavors to mix and penetrate every bite, then eat on crackers, bread, or by the spoonful!

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

This stuff is so good. I won’t bore you with words. Just look, drool, and then head straight to the kitchen. You must make this immediately.
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Homemade Ricotta Cheese

recipe courtesy of Tasting Table

1/2 gallon whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a large pot over medium heat, bring the milk, cream and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add the lemon juice and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to curdle (about 2 minutes).

Line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let the cheese curds drain, at room temperature, for one hour. You can save the water the strains out – it’s loaded with protein and apparently you can add it to soups or anything else that calls for water or stock.

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The original recipe said to whip the ricotta with olive oil and salt and pepper in a blender. I did not do this – I couldn’t be bothered. I’m sure it would taste amazing, but to be honest, this cheese is good as is. I just drizzled it with olive oil and topped with fresh ground pepper, then served with a really nice whole wheat ciabatta bread and tomatoes.