Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kale is the new black.  

Yes, that dark, green, leafy, good-for-you veggie is now fashionable, and being served in a fine restaurant near you, as a side dish, a salad or even as chips to accompany a well-crafted cocktail.

If you’re like most Americans, your first encounter with kale was a sloppy looking mess of soggy, dark green. And if that first experience was also your last, it’s time to give kale another chance .

I love this recipe. It uses kale raw, so it’s crunchy, not soggy.  And the dressing in this salad is light and fresh and takes full advantage of kale’s crunch and naturally nutty flavor.

This goes together quickly and can be prepared a day ahead of serving.

·         1 large bunch kale
·         One generous cup of good, homemade coarse breadcrumbs (or you can crush store-bought croutons in a plastic bag until they are the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs)
·         1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
·         ½ cup dried currants, soaked in a cup of warm water for 10 minutes and drained
·         1/2 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
·         1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus additional shredded cheese for garnish (you can substitute parmesan)
·         3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish (use the BEST oil you have!)
·         Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon (just about 1/4 cup)  Tip: Squeeze your lemons into a cup through a tea strainer so you don’t have to pick out seeds.
·         1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Trim the bottom inches of the kale stems and discard. Slice the kale into 3/4-inch ribbons; this should yield about 5 cups. Place the kale in a large bowl.

Mince the garlic and mix it in a small bowl with 1/4 teaspoon of salt until it looks like a paste. (You can also do this with a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with the side of your chef’s knife). 

Combine the garlic paste with the 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper and whisk to combine.

Pour the dressing over the kale, add the pine nuts and currants, and toss very well (the dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat the leaves).. Let the salad sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with the bread crumbs, additional cheese, and a drizzle of oil.

Adapted from the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Chiles and Pecorino recipe in Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.

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