kale bites with lemon ranch dressing

kale bites with lemon ranch dressing

This post was created in partnership with California Grown. All opinions are our own.

We have a story that we’d love to share
Pour some California wine and find a comfortable chair
’Twas Wednesday the thirteenth, a sunny morning in November
The start of a trip we will always remember
But before we begin, let us explain how it came to be
It’s an amusing tale, you might agree
Back in March, we held an event at our Eagle Rock abode
A springtime celebration for the cookbook we just wrote
Co-hosted by our friends The Feedfeed and California Grown
Definitely the most elegant party we have ever thrown
That April afternoon is when we first met our friend, KC
On Instagram her handle is @gfreefoodie
She works for California Grown and on that day we connected
Then this fun travel opportunity came up and we were selected

the view from Houweling's Tomatoes headquarters
inside the high-tech greenhouse at Houweling's Tomatoes

We drove up the coast to Santa Barbara in under two hours
Along the blue Pacific Ocean and fall-blooming flowers
Arriving at our hotel, we were taken by surprise
Just steps from the beach, we couldn’t believe our eyes
We walked into the Biltmore Four Seasons Resort
Immediately greeted by a bellhop escort
He shuttled our bags to the ground floor suite
And when we opened the door our hearts skipped a beat
We’ll describe the room later, in detail for sure
But for now, it was time for our first farm tour

a rainbow of fresh produce
caprese skewers for lunch
fresh bruschetta and a crisp cucumber

Houweling’s Tomatoes was our initial stop
With massive greenhouses filled with fresh crops
They use innovative techniques for the plants in their care
It’s all hydroponic, with no soil anywhere
They recycle the water which nourishes the roots
They keep bumblebees inside to help pollinate the fruits
Since there’s no weeds, there’s no herbicides
Since there’s no pests, there’s no pesticides
Solar powered by our powerful sun
This green, non-GMO farm was stop number one

california grown coffee!
freshly-picked coffee berries
they grow and roast the coffee right here at the farm

The second place we visited cultivates tropical fruit trees
In fact, there are some you would not believe
In the foothills of Santa Barbara overlooking the ocean
Good Land Organics also brews a special potion
This small family-owned farm nearly blew our minds
Their lush California orchard produces organic coffee grinds
We sampled their java in mugs of clear glass
And dreamt about taking some home en masse
We toured the verdant grounds and learned how everything grows
Then headed to our hotel to change into dinner clothes

the perfect spot for a picnic
ripe persimmons, ready to be picked
a bounty of tropical fruit from Good Land Organics
these passionfruit were extra sweet

Our group meal at the Four Seasons was a luxurious treat
Made from all local ingredients, the cuisine could not be beat
There were fried blue-cheese-stuffed olives served as a side
If we claimed we ate just one, it would be a complete lie
The talented chef spoke to us about his inventive food
He told us from where each vegetable was sourced—such a cool dude
We were joined by Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross, which was neat
With sparkling wine and twinkling candles, it was a romantic place to eat

fried blue-cheese-stuffed olives with spicy dipping sauce
reflections at the Biltmore

The hour was late and we said our goodbyes
We strolled back to our room under starry skies
Winding around the flower-lined paths
All we could think about was a hot steamy bath
So the first thing we did when we returned to our suite
Was put on comfy robes and warm up our feet
There was even a fireplace which we kept lit all night
Which soothed us to sleep with its orange flickering light

avocado toast with fresh tomatoes and pickled onions for breakfast
rows and rows of pink gerbera daisies

Our breakfast the next morning was healthy and green
Followed by a brief recap of everything we had seen
And while we sipped our coffee and awoke
Secretary Ross and KC spoke
They discussed sustainable farming and conserving water
And talked about the earth’s climate getting unmistakably hotter
After a tasty breakfast with avocado toast
We headed to our final farm with KC, our welcoming host

greenhouse selfie
flower power

Our gang hopped on the bus and we zipped through the trees
To our next destination called Ocean Breeze
There were enormous greenhouses, as high as the clouds
Our private group of ten was the only crowd
They use hydroponic systems that recycle the water there
Perhaps one day these techniques will be used everywhere
We learned something else that we want to share with you
Most US-grown flowers are from California—we never knew
We designed and created our own bouquets
Then proudly took them home to put on display
They lasted for weeks and brightened the room
With leafy green foliage and vibrant blooms

my love is like a red, red gerbera daisy
our colors are blush and bashful
bouquet assembly line

This week wouldn’t be the same without those who attended:
We felt so sad when this trip ended
We’re grateful to California Grown for including us in this event
We’re happy it worked out and thrilled that we went!

now it's our turn to make bouquets
two proud flower-arrangers

One last thing before we go
We couldn’t leave you without a recipe, you know
This one’s a surprise—from our new cookbook that just came out
You’re going to love it to pieces, without a doubt
Kale Bites with Lemon Ranch Dressing is its name
There’s a delicious reason for its deserved fame
Make them tonight and see for yourself
Then buy another copy for your friend’s bookshelf!
Thank you all for reading our story
And enjoy the Kale Bites in all their glory!

our hotel was steps from the beach
we're moving in
the gang's all here

group photo credit: Alycia Moreno

Kale Bites with Lemon Ranch Dressing
From Husbands That Cook by Ryan Alvarez & Adam Merrin
Makes about 45

For the Lemon Ranch Dressing:
1 cup (225 g) mayonnaise
1/4 cup (59 ml) milk of your choice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika

For the Kale Bites:
1 pound (454 g) coarsely chopped de-stemmed kale (see note)
1 1/2 cups (106 g) panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup (55 g) Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
2 ounces (57 g) pecorino romano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
2 ounces (57 g) gruyère cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup (104 g) unsalted butter, melted
4 scallions (about 40 g), thinly sliced
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

To make the Lemon Ranch Dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. Taste for salt and lemon, and adjust as needed. Transfer to a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

To make the Kale Bites:
Preheat oven to 375°F/191°C, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the chopped kale, using a spoon to press the kale down into the water. Cook for 3 minutes to blanch the kale, then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Dry the kale by the handful, squeezing it tightly to remove excess water, then transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine evenly.

Form the mixture into walnut-size balls, and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1/2-inch of space between each one. Bake until golden and crispy, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve warm with Vegan Lemon Ranch Dressing, and enjoy!

— The kale should weigh 1 pound after removing and discarding all the thick stems, so be sure to remove them before placing the leaves on a scale.
— If desired, the kale bites can be frozen and stored until ready to bake. After rolling the mixture into balls, place them on a baking sheet in a single layer without touching each other. Freeze them on the baking sheet until completely frozen, 2 to 4 hours, then transfer the balls to a ziplock bag or sealed container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. When ready to serve, place them on a baking sheet and bake as directed—note that the baking time will be slightly longer since they are frozen.


3 Comments on kale bites with lemon ranch dressing

  1. peggy
    January 15, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    OMG we love you both! Love what you wrote and all your antidotes! You are both so incredible and we are truly blessed to have you shared in this adventure together! These bites look amazeballs 🙂 xoxoxo Until our next gathering 🙂 With love, Pegs and Megs

    • husbandsthatcook
      January 16, 2020 at 11:05 am

      We feel the EXACT same way about you two! We feel so lucky to have shared such a fun experience with you! Can’t wait to hang again soon! xoxo

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