Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Genius Kale Salad

Do we really need another kale salad recipe? Yes. This may just be the last kale salad recipe I will ever need. It came on my radar last week via Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks ~ she got it from the new cookbook by Food 52~ Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook.
I'm going through another one of those phases where I really need to get off the carb train and make more produce driven meals.
The kale that we get at the market is so beautiful but I lack the inspiration to buy it and make something. The thing is, I love a good kale salad and every time I make one it disappears immediately. Yet, I rarely make them. I saw this on my news feed this week I was all over it. If Food 52 and Heidi make a big deal out of it then there's gotta be something to it.
The genius in this salad is the addition of not one, but two very different cheeses and it's not very often I see the words "good aged cheddar" as a salad ingredient (the other is Pecorino).
I got a little wedge of Mrs. Quicke's Traditional Cheddar from the market. It's an English clothbound aged cheddar just bursting with rich complex flavors. It's important to note that the cheddar should be chopped or crumbled rather than grated. The little nubs of savory, nutty, tangy, caramelly flavors that really good cheddars create within each bite is what makes this salad standout from any other kale salad recipe I've come across.
I couldn't pull this together fast enough. This salad includes roasted asparagus (or roasted winter squash) and almonds, finishing with shaved pecorino. I also added chopped dried cranberries.
I had a little bit of Pecorino Toscano left from my sheep milk cheese tasting last week. It's moister and less salty than Pecorino Romano (a dry grating cheese that's a common substitute for Parmigiano Reggiano) and has a surprisingly zippy flavor. It's a lovely table cheese especially served with sliced pears or peaches.
A little curd-nerdery: Pecorino just refers to an aged, Italian sheep's milk cheese (Pecora is the Italian word for sheep), so there are different types out there, depending on the region where they are made, but the Romano is more widely available. 

Genius Kale Salad                    
Food 52’s Genius Recipes via 101 Cookbooks

1/2 cup chopped asparagus
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch Lacinato kale, ribs removed, leaves finely sliced, about 2 1/2 cups
1/4 cup almonds cut roughly in half
1/4 cup crumbled or finely chopped good, aged cheddar
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries (optional)
Fresh lemon juice
Pecorino or any other hard cheese, for shaving

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Toss the asparagus in just enough oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Spread on the sheet pan, leaving space between each piece. Roast in the oven until tender and caramelized, 20-30 minutes (I used small spears of asparagus which were done in 20 minutes) tossing with a spatula after 10 minutes. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet in the same oven until they start to smell nutty, tossing once, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
In a large mixing bowl, toss the kale with the almonds, cheddar, asparagus and cranberries if using. Season to taste with lemon juice and olive oil (using about 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons oil). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide onto two plates and finish with shaved pecorino.

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