I love to eat and I really want to love what I am eating. Voltaire’s comment makes all the sense in the world to me. “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”
One of my favorite go-to recipes over the last few years is a recipe that I first learned about in the trusty New York Times. I say trusty because I have rarely had a recipe fail from the pages of the NY Times. Maybe that is a big statement to proclaim. Maybe when it comes right down to it, I don’t make that many recipes…anyway I just know I can usually count on writers such as Melissa Clark and Mark Bittman and other featured NY Times writers of yore, to throw good recipes our way.
So back to the recipe at hand. The original appeared in October of 2007 and then more recently, because it is a keeper, in Melissa Clark’s 2010 cookbook, In the Kitchen With A Good Appetite. ( A must for cookbook collectors.)
If you are not yet a kale convert, I can almost guarantee this salad will change your mind and taste buds. However, I am not giving you the original recipe as the cookbook is available for that. Instead I will give you my equally yummy version as an example of what you can do when you vary the ingredients and preparation just a bit. (Like when you are feeling too lazy to run to the store.) The following salad is not only nutritious but certainly a pleasure to eat. Voltaire would approve.
Lemon and Kale Salad
1 bunch organic lacinato kale (also sold as Tuscan, black or dinosaur kale)
¼ cup of walnuts, toasted and chopped
¼ cup coarsely chopped crumbs from a hearty grain bread
1/2 garlic clove
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 organic lemon (a juicy Meyer lemon is perfect)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 small dried red chili, crumbled
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (if using, use the real stuff)
or instead of cheese, use up to ½ teaspoon Mellow White miso
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)
Trim the kale from the thicker stems and set the stems aside for another use. (The stems are great chopped up in sautés or in soup.) Align the kale leaves vertically and chop crosswise in ¼ inch ribbons. In a bowl, toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
Toast the walnuts and bread. Coarsely chop. I more or less dice my toasted bread into tiny croutons. Though you can omit the bread crumbs, I find they help soak up the dressing (especially the lemon juice) so it doesn’t pool at the bottom of the bowl.
Mash the garlic using a mortar and pestle. Whisk in 1-2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil, the lemon juice, cheese or miso, salt and red pepper flakes. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss to combine. Add walnuts and bread crumbs and toss again. (You can also toss the cheese in the salad at this point rather than adding it to the dressing.) Top with a few grinds of black pepper if desired. Set aside until you are ready to eat. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Though this salad can be eaten shortly after it is made, it is just as tasty the next day or even the day after. Or sautéed if you are wanting something warm. Toss it with other veggies (roasted veggies are particularly good), throw it on top of your favorite grain or pasta…the variations are endless. This recipe will serve 4-5 as a side salad or 2 if you are in a devouring sort of mood.