Hunting And Gathering: Tuscan Kale Salad

by Lisa Barlow

Kale Salad Picture “Kale is the steak of vegetables!” my vegetarian friend would often exclaim. “Well, I‘d rather have the steak of meats” her carnivore husband would mutter. Blame it on dinner. The marriage didn’t last.

Here’s a kale salad recipe that just might have kept life happier for both of them, at least in the kitchen. The leafy green is massaged with salt and oil, reminding one of Kobe beef, and making it in my mind, indeed the steak of vegetables.

Kale, like its cruciferous cousins, broccoli and Brussels spouts, is highly nutritious, containing lots of beta-carotene, Vitamins A, C and K, calcium and the phytochemicals that fight cancer. You will most likely encounter flat or curly leafed kale in the supermarket. But look for the Tuscan variety, also called black leaf, laciniato or dinosaur kale, when the Farmer’s Market comes to town. This makes a more delicate salad. It is usually available from November into spring.

This recipe is loosely adapted from Melissa Clark’s wonderful new cookbook In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite, but if you find yourself in New York City, this delicious salad is already waiting for you at Birdbath, the new “green bakery” with outposts sprouting up all over downtown.

RAW TUSCAN KALE SALAD

1 bunch Tuscan kale
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 slice country bread to make ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated pecorino cheese
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts
Juice of 1 lemon
½ clove crushed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional)

  • Remove the stems from kale and slice into 1/2- inch ribbons.
  • Place kale, olive oil and salt in a bowl and massage it lightly until it begins to wilt, about 2-3 minutes.  Let sit for a few minutes while you assemble the other ingredients.
  • To make the breadcrumbs, toast bread until golden. Break into pieces and grind in a food processor until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.
  • Toast hazelnuts in a 350° oven for 10 minutes. If the dark skins are still on the nuts, place them in a dishtowel when you remove from the oven. After a few minutes the skins will rub off. Crack nuts gently into smaller pieces.
  • Whisk lemon juice, and garlic with salt and pepper.
  • Toss everything with the wilted kale. Add hot pepper if you like. You can drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle more cheese to garnish.

LB2 Lisa Barlow is a writer and photographer who divides her time between New York, Telluride and San Pancho, Mexico. An enthusiastic omnivore, she specializes in stories about food.

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