Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kale Salad with Lemon, Pecorino Romano, and Toasted Walnuts

Only in the past couple of years have I discovered how awesome kale is. When talking about dark leafy greens, the nutritional powerhouse that is kale resides on top. My favorite way to prepare kale had been making chips out of them. The standard procedure consisted of lightly coating the whole kale leaves, stalk removed, season, and bake in oven at low temperature until crisp. Delicious, but too oily for me to call healthy. Then I kept hearing more about kale salad, where the kale is broken down by acid and then dressed. Hm. I usually steer clear of putting any acid into any green vegetables, knowing that breaks down chlorophyll, along with the nutritional content and flavor, as well as transforming it into a drab olive green.

Somehow kale salad works on a few different levels. First off, it is delicious. The preparation proves to be super easy without having to cook anything, with the exception of maybe toasting some nuts. This salad gets better upon refrigeration, whereas traditional salads which turn to mush. Even after 4 days of sitting in the fridge, it tasted just as fresh as the first day I made it. I decided to use an Italian approach to this salad, using lemon juice for the acid, lemon zest for brightness, Pecorino Romano cheese (sheep milk, lactose-free), toasted walnuts, and olive oil. My favorite cheese right now is Pecorino Romano, with its perfect balance of salty with that distinctive sheep cheese flavor. This kale salad pairs very well with my socca with za'atar, both in flavors and combining to make a complete protein.

1 bunch of Lacinato/dinosaur kale
2 lemons, juice of (zest before juicing)
1 lemon, zest of
1 garlic clove, grated
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt, pepper, chili flakes to taste

Wash the kale well. Remove stalk, and chiffonade into thin strips. Place in a large (preferably glass) bowl. Zest one of the lemons, and put aside. Juice both lemons, put 1/2 the juice in with the kale (the other 1/2 set aside) and massage thoroughly with clean hands. Cover bowl and place in fridge.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining lemon juice, the lemon zest, grated garlic, romano cheese, walnuts, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili flake. Mix and taste. Adjust seasonings for you preference. Add this dressing to the messaged kale and toss well until completely combined. Store in fridge and serve as needed. Makes 4-6 servings. That simple.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure