this article in Bon Appetit by Molly Wizenberg. That was maybe the first time kale hit my radar as something I should try and not just as the little garnish on the plates at Shoneys. It wasn't too long after that Drew and I went to 131 Main in Asheville, and kale salad was listed as a side dish. I asked the waiter to describe it, and it seemed like it might be a good choice. Oh how right I was! This quickly became one of my favorite winter salads, and after asking the waiter to repeat its contents (I'm not so good at identifying every ingredient yet), I made notes and determined I had to replicate this salad at home. I think I've hit success. So, this recipe is sort of one of my originals, having been developed by me and inspired by the dish I had at 131 Main.
In my opinion, this salad is best served in smaller quantities; think side salad rather than entree. The kale needs to be very thinly sliced into 1''-2'' ribbons (think the size of shredded iceberg lettuce). If you're not very familiar with kale, it's a strong green, slightly bitter, and usually not served raw. If it's not thinly sliced, the leaf may be a bit much for you. In this salad, its straightforwardness is matched with lemon juice and parmesan cheese to create a dish with slightly tangy, bright, and hearty qualities with every bite. When purchasing kale, you want a nice, sturdy, green leaf. Most of the ones around here have been wilty and flimsy this winter, and you need the sturdiness.
from my kitchen, inspired by 131 Main
4 cups thinly sliced kale leaves (maybe about 1/2 bunch or 1/4 lb)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4-1/2 cup parmesan (or parmigiano reggiano) cheese, grated
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced, pressed, or grated (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
In a bowl large enough to hold the kale and do some tossing, add the kale. In a smaller bowl, combine the olive oil and lemon juice. Pour about half the lemon juice/olive oil mixture over the kale and toss. Add in the cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, and red pepper, if using, and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings/flavors to your liking. Serve immediately or place in refrigerator until needed. Serves 4.
Note: Being that I am not a careful measurer when not baking, you may want or need to adjust the quantities of certain ingredients. I did try to estimate to the best of my abilities. The kale salad should be well dressed but not drenched, and the parmesan noticeable but not overpowering. As with so many dishes, this is one of balanced flavors. If you feel the lemon flavor needs punching up, add in some zest or more juice.