Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans

Here is another kale salad!  This one sees heavy rotation on our winter dinner table.  Deb Perelman describes it as a means of getting over her raw-kale skepticism ("I thought the world would be a better place if we could all stop pretending that kale tastes good"), and I can attest that it worked the same way for me.

The dried fruit and nuts are interchangeable; we've tried cranberries, apricots, walnuts, sliced almonds, etc (then of course you'd have to call it Kale Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts, or whatever, but I think we're big enough we can move beyond that setback, right?).  You can also use any of the three types of kale we're growing at the farm, though the recipe calls for the Tuscan, or Dinosaur variety.  All are acceptable.  The important point here is the vinaigrette dressing, which, when you toss it with the kale and let it stand for a bit, almost "cooks" the kale with its acidity.  This does an awful lot to alleviate any toughness or bitterness from the greens, which is what most of us didn't like about raw kale in the first place.

from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

serves 4

1/2 cup pecans
8 oz. Tuscan kale
4 oz. radishes (about 4 medium-large)
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 oz. soft goat cheese, chilled

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and spread the pecans on a tray.  Toast them for 5 to 10 minutes*, tossing them once or twice to make sure they toast evenly.  Remove them from the oven, and set them aside to cool.

Wash your kale and let it dry on spread-out kitchen or paper towels.  Then, with a knife, remove the rib from each stalk, leaving long strips of kale leaves.  Stack the leaves in small batches, roll them tightly the long way, and cut the roll crosswise into thin ribbons.  Add the kale ribbons to a large salad bowl.

*Note: if you're using sliced almonds, this will only take a couple of minutes, and remember to toss them!  Sliced almonds want to burn and require watching.

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