Unbelievable Kale Salad

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

As I mentioned on my last kale recipe, we had a LOT of kale in the garden this year. It just kept going, and going, and going. As a result, we were on the hunt for as many new kale recipes as possible, and we had a lot of really good surprises.

This is one of them; it is one of the best salads I have ever had in my life.

The Journey:

I don’t think of this as being a particularly difficult thing to make, but I guess when it comes to salad, it’s a little more difficult than the average. The original recipe says you can skip some or all of the “optional” part. You cannot. I will not allow it.

walnuts

The nice thing is that there are a lot of different steps that don’t need to be done all at once. You can do the walnuts, go away for an hour, come back and do the raisins, wander away again, do breadcrumbs, etc. Also, you’re supposed to let it sit for awhile anyway, so no worries on making it ahead of time. We’ve even put the breadcrumbs in ahead of time, and they don’t seem to get soggy or suffer in any way.

toasted breadcrumbs

The Verdict:

I do not get sick of this salad. It’s got everything; it’s tasty, unique, healthy, has a good texture, the works. It’s one of the best things I know how to make. We’ve taken it as a dish to pass for Thanksgiving, a school potluck, and a New Year’s Eve party. I don’t know anybody who’s tried it and hasn’t liked it.

I should note that we substituted pepitas for the walnuts, since the school potluck was a nut-free event, and it was absolutely just as good.

Kale salad

The Recipe:

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

  • 1/2 cup walnut halves or pieces
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (we use orange champagne vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tiny clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • Coarse or kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and patted dry
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) pecorino (or parmesan) cheese, grated
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, tossing once. Let cool and coarsely chop.
  3. In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer white wine vinegar, water and raisins for 5 minutes, until plump and soft. Set aside in liquid.
  4. Toast bread crumbs, garlic and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet together with a pinch of salt until golden. Set aside.
  5. Trim heavy stems off kale and remove ribs. Cut kale into very thin ribbons crosswise and put in a large bowl.
  6. Add pecorino, walnuts and raisins (including all of the vinegar mixture), remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice and toss until all the kale ribbons are coated.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving, if you can, as it helps the ingredients come together.
  9. Just before serving, toss with breadcrumbs.

Kale and Black Bean Tacos

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

Kale. Lots and lots and lots of kale. The garden produced more kale than we knew what to do with this year, and we had to find some way to use it. This was one of the pleasant surprises turned up by kale recipe Internet searches.

The Journey:

As with all kale recipes, de-stemming and chopping is the hardest part. I’m not particularly stringent on the de-stemming part, but I do try to take out the largest parts. It also helps to employ child labor.

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I would say this doesn’t taste particularly “kale-y”, but is just a fantastically seasoned topping for your tacos. It’s not just a good excuse to use kale; I’d choose it over regular lettuce any day. In fact I’ve eaten the leftover greens just as a salad. Don’t judge until you’ve tried it.

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The Verdict:

Soooooo good! SO good.

The citrus is what really puts it over the top, I think. Also, I think I tend to under-season tacos and then just depend on some salsa to give it a little kick. But the seasoning is so good here. Finally, the corn tortillas are the finishing touch. We usually have flour tortillas, but corn tortillas taste so much more authentic to me. (It helps that we have an awesome local tortilla company here!)

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The Recipe:

Recipe “upsized” from Cookie and Kate:

  • The juice from 1 lime (I mostly use lemon)
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 seeded and finely chopped fresh jalapeños
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of kale (~8 – 10 leaves), washed and dried, stems removed and roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ~8 small (8 inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 small avocado, pitted and sliced into strips lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • crumbled feta cheese for topping
  1. In a bowl, combine the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, sea salt, jalapeño, cilantro and kale. Toss to mix well and set the bowl aside to marinate.
  2. Warm the beans and minced garlic with a couple of tablespoons of water. You can do this in your smallest sauce pan on the stove over medium-low heat (sauté the garlic in a drizzle of olive oil before adding the beans) or in a bowl in the microwave. Add little splashes of water as necessary. Use a fork to mash up the beans a little and add salt to taste, if necessary.
  3. Warm the tortilla in a skillet or in the microwave for a few seconds. Top the tortilla with the black bean mixture, sliced avocado, marinated kale (you may end up with more kale than will fit in your burrito, reserve the extra and serve it on the side). Top with red onion and feta. Roll up the burrito by first folding the tortilla over from the bottom to partially cover the beans and greens, then fold in the 2 sides; finish rolling and put the burrito seam side down on a plate. Slice in half, if desired, and serve with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt on the side if you’d like.

Kale with Bacon and Cannellini Beans

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

This recipe actually came from Sara’s mom, who made it for dinner one night at our house, but the reason we really picked it up and ran with it was because of all the delicious kale we have growing in our garden this year.

In fact, the best part about this recipe is that we usually have everything we need to make it on hand at any given moment. There have been many a night where we say, “We have nothing to make for supper,” and then we remember this recipe and go from having absolutely nothing to eat, to having a fantastic gourmet meal.

And if you need another reason why you should make this delicious, yet vegetable-filled dish, I present Exhibit A:

(Stock bacon photo…you’d be surprised at how many of these I have)

The Journey:

It’s hard to say whether this is a hard or easy dish to make. It’s pretty simple, but at the same time it’s sort of a pain to remove all the stems from the kale. Also, we usually make the bacon ahead of time (you’d be amazed at what you can do when you have pre-cooked bacon easily at hand). So if you already have cooked bacon and you have a sous chef to de-stem the kale, it’s a piece of cake!

I should also mention that, while you can eat it by itself, we usually serve it over rice, pasta, or quinoa. It’s plenty flavorful, and the addition lets it stretch far enough to have some leftovers for lunch the next day.

The Verdict:

You know, when I originally put a section for “the verdict” I kind of imagined I would use these First Friday Food posts to try new things. Instead, I usually select from our cadre of favorite recipes. So I always just end up saying, “Yeah, the verdict was it’s awesome!” because otherwise I wouldn’t have put that recipe up there.

So, the verdict is, it’s awesome.

I am well on record saying I do not enjoy the combination of salty and sweet, and yet that is exactly what this is. What can I say, I am a man of many inconsistencies. The sugar combines with the balsamic vinegar, which combines with the saltiness of the bacon and makes something totally new and delicious.

I think this is the best recipe we have for kale, I like it even better than kale chips. If you have kale lying around, like we do, then this is the perfect way to use it (says me — the kids mostly just try to pick out the beans and bacon — oh well, what are you gonna do).

The Recipe:

Recipe from Weight Watchers.

  • 3 slices uncooked bacon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 pound uncooked kale, stemmed, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup canned chicken or beef broth
  • 15 oz canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar, in the raw
  1. Set a large, heavy pot or skillet over medium heat; add bacon and cook to desired crispness. Remove bacon from pot and set aside; leave bacon drippings in pot.
  2. Add onion and red pepper flakes to bacon drippings; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  4. Add kale; cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to wilt, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add broth; cover and simmer over low heat until kale is just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Add beans; simmer, uncovered, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Stir in salt, vinegar and sugar; sprinkle with crumbled bacon and serve immediately.