Monday, January 07, 2013


This is the salad I served with the pumpkin ricotta gnocchi. It’s not revolutionary—strikingly similar to other kale salads I’ve tried, in fact—but it is quite delicious. I spotted the recipe at Whipped and realized that although I’ve tried peaches with kale, I haven’t yet tried the more obvious apple. Not surprisingly, it turns out that leafy greens, toasted nuts, sharp cheese, and crisp apples are a winning combination, especially in the fall and winter.

My only changes were to the dressing: I added some mustard, because I love it and knew it would play well with the cheese and apple, increased the lemon juice, because I love tart dressings and didn’t want to have part of a lemon hanging around, and decreased the olive oil, because ⅓ cup seemed like a lot. This was my first time trying Pecorino in chunks, rather than just shredded, and on its own I found it a bit too sheepy, although it worked well when mixed with all the other ingredients. I happened to have Pecorino in my fridge already and this was a good way to use it up, but in the future I’d be more tempted to just use a good sharp cheddar, as in my favorite kale salad. It’s just hard for me to say no to cheddar, particularly with apples.

This was also my first time trying the popular “massage” method of making kale salad. Proponents claim that it makes the kale tender and sweeter, but I’ve never found the taste or texture of raw kale to be a problem, maybe because I usually use Tuscan kale for salads and it’s already less tough, or maybe because I try to let it marinate in the dressing for a while before I eat it, which helps the leaves wilt a bit. But since the recipe specifically mentioned it, I dove in, and I do have to admit that it’s a great way of making sure that the dressing gets into every nook and cranny of the leaves. I’ll probably mix my kale salads by hand from now on, but if you’re squeamish about getting your hands messy, tossing very thoroughly with tongs will accomplish more or less the same thing. Some kale-massaging enthusiasts recommend massaging the kale without the dressing or just with salt, before you even make the salad, but I’m far too lazy to bother with that—and perfectly happy with my kale salads the way they are, thank you.

1 bunch Tuscan kale, washed, dried, stems removed, leaves chopped into ribbons
⅓ cup slivered or chopped almonds, toasted
½ cup cubed (¼ inch squares) Pecorino cheese
1–2 apples (such as Pink Lady, Gala, or Fuji), thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3–4 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. To make the dressing, whisk lemon juice, mustard, and olive oil in a small bowl until combined, then season with salt and pepper.

2. Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle dressing over it, massaging it into the leaves with your hands. (You may have more dressing than desired, depending on how much kale you have.) When all the kale is coated, add the cheese, almonds, and apples and toss together. Let sit about 15 minutes before serving.

Serves: 4
Time: 20 minutes
Leftover potential: Good, but you may want to wait to add the apples until you’re ready to eat

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