Friday, March 23, 2012
KALE CAESAR SALAD WITH POACHED EGG AND CRISPY PROSCIUTTO
Just in case you were laboring under the misapprehension that raw kale is solely hippie-dippy rabbit food, I thought I’d debauch it a little. It’s kind of hilarious that I would even think to make this, since I have long abhorred copious amounts of mayonnaise, particularly salads swimming in copious amounts of mayonnaise-based dressings. But then, I’ve long abhorred runny eggs, and we all know I’m over that one. Plus, it turns out that kale will admirably withstand whatever rich thing you want to drench it with. I actually started out with a modest amount of dressing here, but ended up using the whole batch just to get the moisture and flavor levels I wanted into all the nooks and crannies in the leaves. And it was delicious.
I had some homemade mayonnaise left over from making fish cakes with tartar sauce (and later some BLTs, where the mayo really shone, so I’ll probably be making batches of it all summer long). I had a newfound love of kale salad and newfound egg-poaching skillz. And I had this Dinner With Julie post bookmarked. The kale got shredded, the mayo got blended with generous quantities of garlic, lemon, pepper, and cheese (I had leftover Pecorino from my previous kale salad, so I used that instead of Parmesan), the prosciutto got crisped (I’d never done this, but consider me a convert—it’s so fun to watch as it shrivels in the skillet, and so much faster, easier, and less greasy than bacon), and the eggs got poached (perfectly, I must say), then the whole glorious mess got mixed together and devoured.
Despite all the porky, creamy, eggy ooziness here, it still feels like a light meal (we ate it as a main dish, with two eggs per serving; if you want it as a side, you could use one egg or none), and the grassy greenness of the kale shines through. I certainly won’t be eating this every day or even every month, but it’s an excellent use of leftover homemade mayonnaise. (I assume that you could substitute storebought, but if you must, I don’t want to know about it. I’m not far enough from my old mayo-hating days to contemplate that.) Oh kale, is there anything you can’t do?
I’m afraid I kind of winged this without paying too much attention to measurements, so I can’t give you an exact recipe for the dressing. Just keep tasting and you’ll get there.
Homemade mayonnaise (I probably had about ½ to ⅔ cup)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 medium garlic clove, peeled and smashed
Black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese to taste
1 bunch Tuscan kale
A little olive oil or cooking spray (optional)
8 slices prosciutto
4–8 eggs (optional)
1. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice to taste, garlic, pepper to taste, and cheese to taste. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth (you might be able to do this with a small food processor as well, but I can’t vouch for it; in a pinch, you could probably just mince your garlic and shred your cheese super-finely, then stir everything together in a bowl). Taste and add more lemon juice, pepper, or cheese if needed.
2. Remove the ribs from the kale and discard, and then slice the kale leaves into ribbons and place in a large bowl.
3. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a tiny amount of olive oil or cooking spray, just to barely coat the pan—or if you have a nonstick skillet, you might be able to do without any oil, because the prosciutto will produce a small amount of grease as it cooks. Set the prosciutto slices in the pan (flat and apart from each other, as you would with bacon) and cook, turning as necessary, until browned and crisp (it should only take a few minutes). Remove from skillet and set aside on a paper towel.
4. Add the dressing to the kale gradually, tossing very well to coat the leaves, until you have the desired amount of coverage (you may or may not use all the dressing). Divide the kale between four serving bowls. Place two slices of crisp prosciutto atop each serving (I like to crumble them a bit with my hands so the pieces aren’t huge). If desired, poach or fry one to two eggs per serving and set them atop the salads.
Time: 40 minutes
Leftover potential: OK. The dressed kale will stay unwilted for at least a day, maybe longer. Obviously, you’ll need to freshly poach/fry eggs for the leftover servings—they won’t keep in the fridge. I also waited to cook the second set of four prosciutto slices before I served the leftovers, but I’m guessing that if you want to precook the prosciutto it’ll be OK the second day, maybe just less crispy.