TuscanKaleSalad-2

“Knowing that Lacinato kale is one of Joe’s very favorite green things ever–having heard him bang on about it incessantly…” Hmmm. Yes, Luke: “…bang on about it incessantly…”

“Hey, kids! There’s Joe. ‘Running That Mouth’ about… KALE!’”

You make me sound oh-so interesting.

Yet, it’s all true. I do love kale, particularly Lacinato kale (Tuscan kale, Dinosaur kale, etc.) It does have a “Serve at the Flinstone’s Table” appearance and I find it’s one of the sturdiest types of kale out there. It withstands a fair amount of aggressive cooking (Check out Luke’s ribollita) and it is nice uncooked (it doesn’t require a heavy, repeated chew as most other kales do).

For the challenge, I opted to stay simple and share with everyone a dish that was my first introduction to this vegetable: Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Pecorino.

This is an easy salad that I’ve been making now for the past 3-4 years. Everyone loves it; consider it a kale Caesar salad without the anchovies and romaine. The other night was the first time I added bread crumbs. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing. The bread provided a nice crunch and absorbed some of the delicious, garlic-y, lemon-y goodness from the dressing. More, please.

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Pecorino
The New York Times
Yields 2 to 4 servings

1 bunch Tuscan kale (also known as black or Lacinato kale)
1 thin slice country bread (part whole-wheat or rye is nice), or 1/4 cup homemade bread crumbs (coarse)
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely grated pecorino cheese, more for garnish
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for garnish
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Trim bottom 2 inches off kale stems and discard. Slice kale, including ribs, into 3/4-inch-wide ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Place kale in a large bowl.

2. If using bread, toast it until golden on both sides. Tear it into small pieces and grind in a food processor until mixture forms coarse crumbs.

3. Using a mortar and pestle, or with the back of a knife, pound garlic into a paste. Transfer garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper flakes and black pepper, and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over kale and toss very well to thoroughly combine (dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat leaves).

4. Let salad sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with bread crumbs, additional cheese and a drizzle of oil.