Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Easy Kale Salad aka "Dinosaur Slaw"

Kale Salad aka Dinosaur Slaw

Call it Kale salad, or if you have a two year old, call it dinosaur slaw. What ever you decide you'll be calling it delicious. And after you see/taste how simple and good it is and watch your kids shovel down kale leaves like it's nothing, you'll be dancing around your kitchen, patting yourself on the back and singing "I got the moves like Jagger". Just me?  Er, nevermind. Cough. I don't really do that. Pshaw, please.

I do make a mean Kale salad though, and I'm very excited to share it with you all. I've tried kale salads in the past but they usually involved onions and raisins and nothing made my kids as scared. I'd be willing to bet some of the adults in town might run from raisin kale too. These people were probably raised in the midwest though, and in their defense, they didn't grow up having anything more exotic than brown sugar on sweet potatoes. No, really. My Mother-In-law is from Nebraska and she once said to me growing up, we had salt and pepper and maybe some garlic salt, you know, but I just never knew about all these spices you cook with. All these exciting things like cumin, and fresh garlic, and chili powder. She made no mention of my cardamom or saffron use. It's true, spices do make food sing, but this particular salad doesn't use any of them except for that fresh garlic my mother-in-law spoke of. Bless her heart. (side note: did you know you could say anything about anybody as long as you say "bless their heart" afterwards? It's true. Try it.) Well, really, you can say whatever you want about people if you say bless your heart and you love them. And I do, so that's good.

Kale Salad aka Dinosaur Slaw

The beauty of this dish is A) The kale is finely shredded making it easier to eat and B) The olive oil based dressing poured over the leaves is hot, so it wilts ever so slightly leaving a soaked in, pleasing, round tang. The garlic is not too strong but is more a background flavor to the overall brightness of the salad thanks to a little sherry or red wine vinegar. A scatter of freshly grated Parmesan on top brings the perfect salty balance and you'll be well on your way to falling in love with kale all over again, or for the first time. I'd serve this as a side salad with chicken, beef or fish instead of a main course, and since it only consists of kale, I realize I shouldn't even have to expound on something like that. But, you see, I know there are a few of you out there, like my husband, who might think eating kale and only kale for lunch might be exciting for health. But this is where you'd be wrong. While this salad is quickly becoming one of my favorites, and kale is full of fiber and can be filling, it is also very well flavored, which, while good, makes you want to take a bite of a little somethin' somethin' else in between mouthfuls if you catch my drift.

Kale Salad aka Dinosaur Slaw
adapted from Family Fun Magazine, October, 2012
serves 6-8

8 large kale leaves, washed (I used a whole bunch, and bumped up the dressing by 1/2)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Freshly grated Parmesan, for sprinkling (about 1/3 cup, or more if you desire)

Strip off the kales ruffly leaves by grasping the bottom of each stem and pulling your hand up forcefully (or cut them off). Discard stems. Stack the leaves, then use a large, very sharp knife to sliver then as thin as you can. Put the slivered kale in a large bowl. 

In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the garlic, stirring frequently, until it's fragrant and just on the verge of browning, about two minute. Add the salt and the sherry vinegar and stir as the vinegar sizzles furiously, until the whole thing becomes outrageously fragrant.

Pour the dressing over the kale and toss throughly with tongs. Stir in the Parmesan, add salt to taste, and serve the dish with extra cheese to be sprinkled on top.

By the way, if you are tired of green bean casserole and need a new vegetable side dish for the big Thanksgiving meal coming up, this might fit the bill. It might not seem like the obvious choice, but I love vinegary, fresh foods with turkey and sweet cranberry sauce, plus it's the right color.