Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Kale Thing, and My Most Requested Recipe

One of the alternate blog names that I tossed around was Kale, Et cetera.  It was under serious consideration until the last minute when I decided that I would be too confused by the double "e" in the web address.

But Kale, Et cetera would have been more than appropriate since it is the one single produce item that I always buy and have on hand.  Love love kale.  It's incredibly tasty, high in fiber and vitamins, and I try to work it into every meal I can.  And unlike spinach and chard which have higher water contents, it stands up well to cooking AND works great raw in a salad.

Behold my go-to potluck dish.  Somehow, despite its lack of chocolate and bacon, I get more requests for this recipe than anything else.  Now, I prefer a potluck meal to a catered one any day of the week since I love seeing what people come up with as a reflection of their personality and background.  However, a disorganized free-for-all potluck lunch will, if unchecked, lead to 90% slow cooked meat dishes and extreme cakes.  Because of this, kale salad has become my go-to dish of choice to add a healthier alternative to the mix.  And in such situations it usually becomes a base for a fantastic trash salad featuring 5 of more different types of meat, if I'm lucky.

Augmented with ricotta, a chicken leg, and leftover moussaka.

You can use any type of kale you can find for this salad.  Tuscan/lacinato/dinosaur kale (the flat-leaf kind) has the nicest texture right off the bat, but it's often tough to find; the curly kind tastes just as good and softens right up if you let it sit dressed for 30 minutes so before serving.  The croutons are a personal touch since I'm always looking for ways to use up stale bread, and when is buttery crunchiness ever a bad thing?  Rounded out with dried fruit, this is delicious, easy, and hits all the bases.

Kale Salad
Adapted from Melissa Clark

Makes one big salad (which is anywhere from 2-8 servings depending how hungry I am)
Total time: 5-10 minutes (+15-20 for the croutons)
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • zest and juice of one lemon (or two limes)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, grated or finely minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup (1oz/30g) freshly grated hard cheese (parmesean, pecorino, or whatever is on sale)
  • big handful of dried cranberries, currants, or raisins (optional)
  • big handful of homemade croutons (optional, recipe below)

Rinse and dry kale well.  Remove tough center ribs, slice leaves into very thin ribbons, and place in a large bowl.

Combine olive oil, lemon juice and zest, mustard, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small jar and shake well.  Toss salad with dressing and cheese (it will keep for a few days in the fridge like this).

Top with cranberries and croutons when ready to serve.

Homemade Croutons

Makes 5-6 cups (okay this is a lot, enough for 10-15 salads, but they keep well in an airtight container)
Total time: 15-20 minutes (Active time 5 minutes)

  • 8oz (225g) stale bread (whatever kind you have, about 1/2 a baguette or 8ish slices)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup (1oz/30g) freshly grated hard cheese (parmesean, pecorino, or whatever is on sale) 

Preheat oven to 400F/200C.

Rip or slice bread into small cubes whatever size you like and place in a large bowl.  Mix butter, olive oil, mustard, garlic, and thyme in a small bowl and drizzle on the bread until evenly coated. 

Spread the mixture out in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and sprinkle on salt, pepper, and grated cheese to taste, adding a drizzle of olive oil if it looks dry.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until brown and crispy.  Store in an airtight container when cool.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm, kale! Also great in green smoothies. I have a ton of bread in the freezer begging to be made into croutons. I love the dijon mustard addition, going to have to try that!