January 25, 2011

tuscan kale salad

Romaine-based salads used to be part of my daily meals year-round, even in the dead of winter; as I've embraced a more seasonal way of eating, though, I find myself drawn towards the heartier dark, leafy greens instead - collards, kale, chard, rabe. I'll usually saute them with onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and other spices (and in one of my new favorite combinations, with apple). These days when I'm craving the juicy crunch of a raw salad during the winter months I'll often make a slaw with thinly sliced red or green cabbage, or a salad with Tuscan kale. Tuscan kale (also called dinosaur, lacinato, or black kale), with its long, slender leaves that are more delicate and tender than curly kale, lends itself readily to raw preparations.

The first time I made a kale salad it was this recipe from Melissa Clark, and I liked it so much that I've been following its basic elements ever since. Thin ribbons of kale marinate in a garlicky vinaigrette until they wilt ever so slightly, then get great texture and flavor from sweet, chewy currants and rich pine nuts, plus shavings of nutty parmesan on top; the robust combination perfectly balances the vibrant greenness and slightly bitter bite of the kale.

Tuscan kale salad with currants and pine nuts

1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/8 tsp red chile flakes
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp currants
1 small bunch Tuscan kale, large stems discarded and leaves thinly sliced crosswise into ribbons (about 3 cups)
2 Tbsp pine nuts
freshly shaved parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)
sea salt and black pepper

In a large bowl whisk together the lemon zest and juice, garlic, red chile flakes, olive oil, currants, a pinch of salt, and a couple of grinds of pepper. Let sit for a few minutes so the currants absorb some of the liquid.
Add the kale and toss to coat with the vinaigrette. Marinate at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes until the kale has wilted slightly. Taste and add more salt and black pepper if needed. Add pine nuts just before serving, and shave some parsesan over each portion.


  1. You read my mind, I was looking for dinosaur kale the other day to make a salad. I've never eaten kale raw, but this recipe looks like a good recipe to start with. I like the Mediterranean influences.

  2. I love kale too. I really don't eat it enough. Thanks for the inspiration!
    This salad sounds delicious!

  3. I'm obsessed with kale these days. This looks delicious!