Kale is a popular green, maybe even nudging Brussels sprouts out of favorite vegetable status. When did this happen? I didn't notice, but it's not too surprising. Kale is such a versatile ingredient, long overlooked as just another green. Not so any longer. (Flashback memory of my childhood rejection of canned asparagus, canned spinach, canned green anything except beans. Let's celebrate fresh vegetables!)
Kale adds color and spark to a bowl of cannellini beans. It works in bean soup or gumbo z'herbes, frittatas, stovetop hash, pasta sauces, or even as a pizza topping. I frequently saute it gently with garlic and scallions, then toss with dark balsamic vinegar and pine nuts, and top with lemon zest... mmm, delicious. Could you enjoy crispy, fried kale chips? why not? You might get bonus points for healthy eating.
Cooked kale is the norm in my kitchen, so I was surprised to find a recipe featuring raw kale with some familiar ingredients. It was intriguing and certainly worth a try. If the recipe flopped, I could always add it to soup or some other dish. That was not a problem, the recipe is a keeper! We'll enjoy kale salad again, soon.
When you find a good thing it's best not to mess with it. That's certainly true with this recipe for a crunchy winter salad featuring raw kale. (Disclaimer: I might weaken and be tempted to add some bacon chunks to the finished dish) After the first forkful, RL declared himself ready to reject other greens and demand kale for his salads. Here is the original recipe, from Bon Appetit and available online at Epicurious.com.
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 side salad servings
2 tablespoons dried currants
7 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, divided
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 bunches Tuscan kale (about 1 pound), center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
Parmesan cheese shavings
Place currants in small bowl; add 5 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar. Let soak overnight. Drain currants.
Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, honey, oil, and salt in large bowl. Add kale, currants, and pine nuts; toss to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese shavings over salad and serve.
Note: This salad was just as delicious the next morning as a breakfast entree, topped with a poached egg and served with toast. (Yes, I did add some crumbled bacon and decided it was tasty, but not essential.)