andrew weil’s cookbook ‘true food,’ and his tuscan kale salad recipe

Kale Salad from True Food cookbookANDREW WEIL was 66 years old when the first of the True Food restaurants he’s a partner in opened, in 2008. The founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and author of multiple bestsellers on wellness is perhaps the leading champion of an anti-inflammatory diet, and lest that sound anti-delicious, think again. Enter “True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure,” the cookbook to empower us to create it at home. After buying and enjoying “True Food,” released last October, I asked if I could share a recipe—specifically the restaurant’s signature dish, for a Tuscan kale salad enlivened with mashed garlic, red pepper, shaved Parmigiano and toasted bread crumbs.

Weil is a keen cook, and it shows in the not-hippie, not-boring, not-weird cuisine that he created with Sam Fox, the founder of the partner restaurant corporation, and Michael Stebner, the executive chef of their now-six-and-counting restaurants. Their approach, whether serving patrons or cookbook readers: “globally inspired cuisine,” and also “delicious food that is also good for you.”

As I have been since my 20s, Weil became a lacto-vegetarian in 1970, at age 28, but by the mid-1980s he added fish into his diet, which continued to evolve over the years. “True Food” (book or restaurant) features poultry and bison recipes as well, so non-vegetarians need not panic about coming away hungry. On that topic: I especially love the section called “The Problem of Proper Portions,” in which Weil writes about what’s “just enough.” In Italy, he says, a “serving” of pasta would fit into a teacup. Food for thought.

Nothing has the life cooked out of it, and the flavors sound positively vivid. I’m drawn in by such intensely colorful dishes as Fettucine with Kale Pesto; Sweet Potato-Poblano Soup; Curried Cauliflower Soup; or Braised Broccoli with Orange and Parmesan.  Seafood Fideo (a Mexican soup with toasted pasta cooked into the broth) and Chicken Teriyaki (the first dish chef Stebner created when developing the restaurant menu) are just two of many ideas I’ll try when protein-hungry company is coming.

“True Food” invites us to rethink the entire day’s meals, from breakfast to dessert (and even beverages). A dairy-free Chocolate Pudding looks unsinfully sinful, and promises us it’s “a good way to enjoy the health benefits of chocolate.” Count me in on that health plan.

So what does Weil—who for many years had imagined such a place as “True Food”—think about the retirement-derailing venture?

“It’s never too late to realize a dream,” he says. I couldn’t agree more.

the ‘true food’ kale salad recipe

(from the cookbook “True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure”)

Makes 8 servings

Here’s the signature dish of True Food Kitchen. People who never imagined eating raw kale quickly become devoted. Unlike most salads, this one gets even better in the fridge overnight. Make the extra effort to find Tuscan kale—also sometimes labeled as black kale, Russian kale, cavolo nero, or dinosaur kale—as its deeper color and more complex flavor really lift this into the salad stratosphere.
–Andrew Weil


  • 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 bunches kale (about 14 ounces), ribs removed and leaves sliced into 1⁄4-inch shreds
  • 1⁄2 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese (grated on a Microplane)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted whole wheat bread crumbs
  • Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shavings, for garnish


1. In a salad bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Add the kale and toss well to coat. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes. Add the grated cheese and bread crumbs and toss again.

2. Garnish with the cheese shavings before serving. Cover any leftovers and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

how to win the cookbook

Weil_TrueFood_coverI BOUGHT TWO EXTRA COPIES of “True Food” to share with you. To enter to win [UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed], simply comment below, answering the question:

What’s your version of “healthy cooking”? Is there some food you’re eating more or less of, or some way you’re cooking that’s geared to wellness?

(My short answer: I’ve been a vegetarian since college years, and prefer foods in as whole a state as possible–meaning not processed.)

Nothing to share or just feeling shy? That’s fine. Simply say, “Count me in” or some such, and I will.

Two winners were chosen after entries closed at midnight Wednesday, February 13, 2013. Good luck to all.

(Photos and recipe copyright “True Food Kitchen: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure,” by Andrew Weil, MD, and Sam Fox, with Michael Stebner; published by Little, Brown and Company.) (Disclosure: Links to Amazon yield a small commission that I use to buy books for future giveaways.)

  1. healthy food means:
    i know its source
    i have selected it with positive intent
    i have prepared it with care and singular focus
    i have cooked it with a simple flame
    i have eaten it in peace and with all my senses

  2. margaret says:

    ENTRIES ARE NOW CLOSED. And the winners are: Sabeno Farm and Carol (both of whom will be notified by email).

    Thank you all for a very inspiring wealth of comments on your efforts to eat well and stay healthy. Loved this giveaway event, and reading all of what you had to say.

  3. Kay Brieger says:

    .Made your Spaghetti Squash Casserole today….my daughter and I loved it…would love to give your book to her for her birthday later this month!

  4. Julie Abramson says:

    I avoid processed food almost completely which may be the most important healthy thing i can do; i also grow my own vegetables and eat from the garden from mid summer on.

  5. Marla Rohwer says:

    Healthy cooking means to me…
    Organic, non GMO
    No Sugar
    Freshest vegies in season
    No white foods
    Low in carbohydrates
    Prepared with love,

  6. Tiffany says:

    “Healthy cooking” to me means “fountain of youth”… “Youth” to me represents optimal health and capability. My great grandmother lived to be 101 years old and grew up on a farm in cuba. She passed away quickly because who got pneumonia but she was in fabulous health all throughout her life, using those hard to push lawn mowers throughout her 90s. I won’t be as active as she was as I will have a white collar job and i will be a sedentary medical student / resident for many more years to come so I have to compensate somewhere!

    My plan for living a longer and just as healthy life as she did is by limiting meat to fish and white meats that are more like an accent to a vegan dish rather than having veg accent a meat dish. All foods mus be made with whole ingredients and must be high fiber and low in fat.

    I’ve been doing this now for 5 years. I am 27 years old and hope to inspire my patients to be more self sufficient and proactive in managing their own health!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.