I am starting to make my list and check it twice. My husband’s family is about to descend upon us for the Christmas festivities. And since my family lives here in town, it means that Christmas dinner will be a lively, festive, crowded affair with many different food preferences and preferred Christmas traditions. There are very few things that make me happier than to gather my family and friends around my dinner table. However, the days leading up to the grand event can send me into such a tizzy, such a series of mind-bending stressful days, that I often take my own seat at the table in a worn and exhausted state. I always gaze with admiration at those who effortlessly whip together a couple fresh ingredients to place on the table a delicious and lovely meal. I am not one of those people. My husband and children have learned, by the look in my eye, when to steer clear of the madness in the kitchen. That is why I truly treasure those tried and true recipes that I have prepared enough times that I can whip it together with little thought. This kale salad is one of those recipes. My friends brought it into my house for Christmas dinner the year that Portland was socked in with snow and ice, stranding many families in their homes and denying them the opportunity for travel. My friends brought this salad as a contribution to our family feast and it instantly became a classic. Not only have I served it at many dinners since, but I always think of them when I prepare and serve it to friends and family gathered around my dinner table. Bon Appetit
Adapted from the NY Times
This bright, acidic, slightly bitter salad is a perfect accompaniment to the rich, hearty meals that are served during the holidays.
1 bunch lacinato or red kale
1 slice whole wheat bread or ¼ cup coarse bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
¼ cup finely grated parmesan plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
freshly ground pepper to taste
Slice the kale leaves off of the stem and slice the leaves into 1/2” wide ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Place kale in a large bowl.
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. Another alternative is to take croutons, place in a zip-loc bag and crush with a rolling pin until the bag is full or coarse crumbs. Set bread crumbs aside.
Using a mortar and pestle, or with the back of a knife, pound garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt into a paste. Transfer garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, remaining 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).
Let salad sit for 5 minutes. When ready to serve, toss salad with bread crumbs and additional cheese.