I intended to make a kale caesar. My friends Nancy and Jeremy raved about one they made last month — a true caesar salad, with a creamy dressing from egg yolks and anchovies. It sounded interesting. I picked up the ingredients. I started to measure. Then I looked at my mortar and pestle and thought about how much I didn’t want to use it to pound the anchovies into a paste. Yes, I chickened out. I made this kale salad instead.
Why kale? The past two weekends of decent temperatures have made me crave green. Spring is flirting with us here in St. Louis. Crocuses are blooming in our front yard, and a couple of days last week were warm enough to shed coats. But then, sadly, spring scampered off today and the cold returned. It’s gray, gray, gray. And I want green — green leaves, green grass, and green food.
I used to shy from raw kale. Then last summer, I had a phenomenal salad of kale and red cabbage while passing through Boulder, Colorado. I still think about it. For best results, use Tuscan/lacinato kale if you make this. It’s also called dinosaur or black kale. The leaves are more tender. This is a strong-tasting salad, as you’d expect from raw kale. The lemon, garlic and Pecorino offset the bitterness of the leaves. It’s incredibly nutritious — exactly what we all need after months of gray weather. The beauty of this salad is that it won’t wilt. Dress it, put it in the fridge and it’s just as good the next day.
Raw Tuscan Kale Salad
New York Times, Oct. 24, 2007
1 bunch Tuscan kale (also known as black, dinosaur or lacinato kale)
1/4 cup homemade bread crumbs (coarse) [I used crumbled up croutons]
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese, more for garnish
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for garnish
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
1. Wash the kale. Trim bottom 2 inches of the stems and throw them out. Slice kale, including ribs, into 3/4-inch-wide ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Place the kale in a large bowl.
2. If making homemade bread crumbs, toast a slice of bread until golden on both sides. Tear it into small pieces and grind in a food processor until mixture forms coarse crumbs. If using croutons, grind in a food pro until crumbs are coarse.
3. Pound garlic into a paste using a mortar and pestle. Transfer garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 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 combine (dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat leaves).
4. Let salad sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with bread crumbs, additional cheese and a drizzle of oil.
Serves 2 to 4.