I discovered the glorious versatility of kale this past summer at the farmer’s market I worked at, where my generous fellow vendors would supply me with big verdant bunches at the end of the day, in exchange for a few crusty olive rolls. In the past I had limited my use of kale to kale chips, tearing the leaves into pieces and baking them with a drizzle of olive oil or soy sauce. But these crisp green leaves of lacinato could not be banished to the oven. They wanted to be eaten as is, dressed with some salt, crunch, and good olive oil.
I make this salad when I’m feeling the need to be particularly healthful. If, for example, I’ve chosen to subsist on pie and dark chocolate for a couple of days, I detox with kale. But it doesn’t really taste healthful at all- eaten warm, it is crunchy, satisfying, and just salty enough. Eaten cold, it is creamy and flavorful. The salad is sweet and acidic, simple to make, and gets even better after a day or two in the fridge.
- 1 large bunch of kale, preferably lacinato (or dinosaur)
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta
- juice of 1 large lemon or 2 small lemons
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 red onion
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- cracked black pepper, to taste
- coarse salt, to taste
- Peel and thinly slice red onion.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan set over medium-low heat; add sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until soft.
- While onions are caramelizing, slice up the kale. I fold each leaf in half and drag the tip of a sharp knife across the fold to remove the rib. After I have done this with a few leaves, I stack them up, roll tightly crosswise, and then slice crosswise, to make long ribbons. Place ribbons in a large bowl as you go.
- Dress the kale with the lemon juice. I usually squeeze the lemon directly over the kale, using my fingers to catch the seeds. You could also sub in red wine vinegar here, but you want to be careful not to overdo it with the vinegar (I learned this the hard way).
- Add the warm onions, crumbled feta, and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Toast the sliced almonds on low heat in a dry pan for 3 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. You could also toast these in the oven, or use toasted almonds, but I like the way the hot almonds sizzle on the finished salad.
- Add the almonds to the salad, along with a few turns of coarse salt and cracked black pepper. Toss well, and let sit for at least 10 minutes before eating. You want the salad to wilt a little and the flavors to meld together.