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. Marcia says:

    I’ve been trying to add more variety of vegetables to our meals by using easy and tasty vegetable recipes. The kale salad fits the bill. Thank you.

  2. Beth Robinson says:

    PLEASE … count me in! Have known about and read Dr. Weil for years. As we head toward retirement, I am hoping to seriously change much about how we eat … beginning with a garden (finally, the time!) and most things home-grown or organic.

  3. Rose Mary says:

    We are eating more whole grains and paying more attention to portion size. We grow our own vegetables in the summer and preserve as many as we can, but we need to do more.

  4. Linda says:

    I’ve tried to make my cooking healthier by cutting down on fats, salt, and sugar and by making my meals more colorful.

    I try to cook so that my meals will be like my flower garden–a splash of color! Red tomatoes, strawberries, unpeeled apples, cranberries. Orange sweet potatoes, butternut squash, oranges. Yellow squash, onions, corn. Green beans, broccoli, lettuce, peas. Blueberries. Violet grape juice, plums, beets.

    I try to avoid a lot of fatty foods. Chicken breasts, fish, and lean pork have replaced much of the beef I used to eat. Before eating, I trim as much fat as I can. About the only thing I fry is eggs–in olive oil.

    When I bake, I look for recipes that use oil instead of butter or shortening. I try to cut back on sugar. Most of the cakes I bake still taste good with half the sugar! If a recipe calls for raisins and 3 cups of sugar, I cut the sugar to 1 1/1 cup. My oatmeal for breakfast is great with just cinnamon and a banana.

    In addition to cutting back on sugar and fats, I try to use spices instead of salt to season food. Only recently did I realize just how much salt is in some canned foods!

    I’d love to be able to learn about Dr. Weil’s ideas for healthy cooking.

  5. Jeanne Bucklin says:

    Healthy clean eating saved my life and gave me new life. I have Lupus and suffered for over a decade with horrific pain, nasty medications and fatigue. I have been through several years of chemotherapy treatments at different points, but in 2006 it came to an end when I changed my habits instead of my medications.
    I began by drinking my tea without adding sweetners or milk, then switched from white flours to while wheat. Then I started playful eating– I made it a point to try a new vegetable or fruit at least once a month. After years of eating disorders I found pleasure in nourishing my body in place of guilt and worry.
    I was told I would never be able to have children, within a year of changing my habits I was given the green light to a healthy pregnancy– two healthy children later I continue to learn about ways to enjoy the gifts from the earth that our body desires and thrives on.

  6. rachelle says:

    mmmmm – love to roast veggies! Also I enjoy a wonderful ‘magic mineral broth’ from The Cancer Fighting Kitchen – a superb source for anyone needing proper nutrition during chemo treatment and actually for everyone interested in healthy nutrition! I’ve been a Dr Weil fan for a long time.

  7. Susan says:

    I’m interested in your cookbook. I’ve just started trying whole foods. I’ve experimented with Quinto… I tried it salad like and with broth and almonds and cranberries. I am really liking yogert – Greek Style. I will keep searching vegan and vegetarian sites until I work a palate that is tasty and healthy.

  8. Ellen says:

    I have been told to give up wheat, dairy, and corn. It means its easier to cook from scratch than buying prepared foods, New recipes are always gratefully appreciated.
    I’m a big fan of Dr. Weil. I can’t remember who (someone reputable) said that if we all ate kale every day we would not need to take vitamins. Thanks.

  9. Sonja says:

    My family does our best to eat healthy everyday–we make most meals from scratch, avoid processed foods and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labors from our own garden. New recipes from Dr. Weil would be most welcome!

  10. Diana says:

    Cooking from scratch– dried beans instead of canned, homemade paneer in the saag paneer, homemade salad dressings, small batch jams……and growing a lot of our own food plus supporting our local growers and producers including all of our micro breweries! :)

  11. Christopher Tidrick says:

    I greatly reduced the amount of processed food I was eating, adding in many more fruits and vegetables and lean protein. Lost 21 pounds since Thanksgiving as a result.

  12. Bloomin'Chick Jo says:

    I’m not only being more mindful of what I eat (with my health, I’ve been avoiding processed foods for years no, but I’m being more mindful of how much I eat at a given sitting and what I’m snacking on at other times. Thanks kindly for the opportunity to win this book! I have a Dr. Weil section in my main bookcase in the livingroom.

  13. Helen says:

    I eat a whole foods, mostly organic diet and especially local, whenever i can. I prepare everything very simply for myself and two children. I follow the Weston A Price – Wise Traditions way of eating, again, mostly, not completely. I’d love to have this cookbook! Please count me in and thank you!

  14. Tom Mann says:

    Have grown kale for the first time this fall/winter and have been looking for different ways to prepare/cook it. This recipe is one I must try. Thanks for the chance at the cookbook, Margaret, and good luck to all!

  15. emily says:

    Home grown garlic. I started a few years ago with 6 cloves in a bucket on my porch, the next year I had 10 in a box on the path, then I had a yard and built a raised bed and grew 25 bulbs, the next year I made anouther bed and grew 50 this year I went all out and have 150 bulbs under 3 feet of snow,( and a mulch of seaweed) waiting for spring….. and the curly tatsty scapes and then the beautiul, sticky, papery rich treasure that is my garlic, and we will eat well and be well all year.

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