Friday, March 02, 2012


Yup, I’m on the kale salad bandwagon now. Tender young greens are all very well and good, but I’ve come to really respect the resilience of kale—how it can relax in its dressing for several days without wilting, and how its fresh grassy taste can stand up to whatever big, bold flavors you throw at it. In this Caesar-reminiscent recipe from Melissa Clark via Sassy Radish, we have the classic lemon vinaigrette, plus garlic, red pepper flakes, breadcrumbs, and plenty of cheese: yes please! I probably would have been head over heels for this if I hadn’t started my kale-salad version with an even niftier version a couple of weeks before, but we still enjoyed it tremendously.

I made the breadcrumbs the way the original recipe instructed, by toasting a whole slice of bread in oil in a skillet and then blitzing it in the food processor, but my processor is wimpy and my bread was perhaps sliced too thick, so the resulting crumbs varied crazily in size, from fine to croutonesque, and weren’t as crispy as I would have liked. I wished I had just done them my usual way, tearing the bread into coarse crumbs by hand and then frying them afterward, so that’s what I’ve written into the instructions below. Do whatever you like, obviously. I’m not the boss of you. But, you know, I do respectfully suggest that you try this salad, one way or another.

1 bunch Tuscan kale (also known as black or lacinato kale)
¼–½ cup coarse homemade breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
¼ cup finely grated pecorino cheese, plus more for garnish
About 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Remove the ribs from the kale and discard, and then slice the kale leaves into ¾-inch-wide ribbons (you should have 4 to 5 cups). Place kale in a large bowl.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon (or less) olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and toast the breadcrumbs until crisp and golden. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Place the chopped garlic clove in a small bowl, sprinkle with a little bit of coarse salt, let sit for a minute or two, and then use a fork to grind the garlic into a rough paste (or you can use a mortar and pestle). Add ¼ cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper, and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over kale and toss very well to thoroughly coat all the leaves. (Because dressing will be thick. you will need to do a lot of tossing to accomplish this.)

4. Allow the salad to sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with breadcrumbs, additional cheese, and a drizzle of oil if desired.

Serves: 4
Time: 20 minutes
Leftover potential: Good.

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