Hyperbole Kale Salad

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in something that you anoint it “the best ever”.  It’s a nice and tidy way to sum up something that you just love.  I try not to get into this situation, but there are instances for me that it just has to happen and I have to praise it to the high heavens.  I had such a moment last night while making a kale salad adapted from Smitten Kitchen, one of my all time favorites.  

This particular salad has it all, a hip element (every who’s who of restaurants has some sort of kale salad these days), slight tartness from the lemon juice and also the vinegar soaked raisins, sweetness from those very same raisins, crunch from the nuts and bread crumbs, and saltiness from the grated cheese.  Visually it may not look like much at first glance, but pile it up high on a non-fussy plate and marvel at its green elegance.  All of this occurs within a salad that takes about 15 minutes from start to finish.  The most time consuming aspect is tearing the green ribs away from the stems and then giving those greens a good chiffonade.

I’ve been waiting to give this one a go ever since SK posted this recipe.  I figured with the holidays fast approaching, what better way to fit in a nice slimming salad to make myself feel good, and Betty will be satiated as she is always dying for me to mix dinner salads into the fold.

The only changes I made were that I upped the bread crumbs a bit, upped the raisins a tad, used red wine vinegar (because that’s what I had), and I used toasted pine nuts instead of walnuts (mainly because that’s what I had on hand and I love them when they’re toasted).

I present to you the best kale salad ever and I just gave you the chance to up your hip meter as well all in one shot.

For The Kale Salad:

4 small servings or 2 main servings

  • 1/2 cup (105 grams or 3 3/4 ounces) pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) golden raisins, I threw in a some extras
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup panko (or slightly coarse homemade dried breadcrumbs)
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced (I like to use my microplane)
  • Coarse or kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch (about 14 ounces or 400 grams) tuscan kale (also known as black or lacinato kale; this is the thinner, flatter leaf variety), washed and thoroughly patted dry
  • 2 ounces (55 grams) pecorino cheese, grated
  • Juice of half a lemon, (I used meyer lemons from my yard)
  • Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste

To Make The Kale Salad:

Prepare pine nuts: Toast pine nuts on stove top over med-low heat making sure not to burn them.  Keep an eye on them!

Prepare raisins: In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer red wine vinegar, water and raisins for 5 minutes, until plump and soft. Set aside.

Prepare crumbs: Toast bread crumbs, garlic and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet together with a pinch of salt until golden. Set aside.

Prepare kale: Trim heavy stems off kale and remove ribs. Tear the ribs away from the stems with your fingers.  Stack several sections of leaves and roll them into a tube, then cut them into very thin ribbons crosswise (chiffonade).

Assemble salad: Put kale in a large bowl. Add pecorino, walnuts and raisins, lemon juice, then remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and and toss until all the kale ribbons are coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving, if you can, as it helps the ingredients come together. Just before serving, toss with breadcrumbs and, if needed, a final drizzle of olive oil.