Raw kale salad. It’s delicious. Really.
I make fun of people for eating kale and I make fun of them for growing it. This makes me kind of unpopular at this time of year, when the garden season is winding down and most people have nothing left to harvest except kale.
What is kale anyway, other than a large floppy weed-like leaf? Well, in fact, it’s a powerful cancer fighter that particularly protects some of the body parts such as the breasts, ovaries, colon and prostate, that can be most susceptible to really deadly forms of the disease.
OK, points to kale for that. This elephant ear-shaped member of the cruciferous vegetable family is also an anti-inflammatory, and it can fight heart disease by lowering your cholesterol — especially if it’s eaten steamed, not raw (do people really eat raw kale?).
It is also supposed to help your body detoxify itself, and remove impurities you’ve ingested either from food (and drink) or from the environment.
Of course, there are other (more delicious) foods that provide some of these same benefits. I shouldn’t say “more delicious.” Actually, I don’t object to the way kale tastes, I object to the fact that it’s hard to find a way to cook it other than sautéeing it with a little olive oil and garlic.
And in fact, I should present that objection not in the present tense but in the past tense. Because our copy editor, columnist and excellent chef, Tara Kelly, introduced me to an extremely delicious raw kale salad.
I thought it had a slight tarragon taste; I assume it came from the kale but I don’t know.
Raw Tuscan kale salad with pecorino
Adapted from The New York Times and inspired by Mercato restaurant in Red Hook, N.Y.
Serves 4 to 6
1 bunch Tuscan kale (also known as lacinato); 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts; 1/3 cup dried currants; 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil; juice of 1 whole lemon; salt and pepper to taste; pecorino cheese for ribbon curls
Wash and pat dry the kale. Cut off bottom stems and trim the ribs off the leaves. Chiffonade the kale. (Stack the leaves on top of each other, roll tightly and then slice into thin ribbons.)
Toss in bowl with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Toast the pine nuts in a sauté pan over medium heat, tossing frequently for less than five minutes. Add currants and pine nuts to kale.
Garnish the salad with thinly sliced ribbons of pecorino cheese (a vegetable peeler works especially well) and serve.