Not just a cool-season crop: Kale in summer

Kale, Heirloom, 'Lacinato'_3678Last weekend I found a tasty, cool solution to my latest vegetable quandary: how to eat kale (Brassica oleracea) in the summer. These are the Epicurious reviews and photo that convinced me to use my first kale harvest in a salad rather than play it safe and make a classic kale and potato soup, which, despite its flavour and nutrition, doesn't appeal to me on a sunny June day when I don't want to ingest anything warmer than I am.

The recipe

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Lacinato Kale and Ricotta Salata Salad (Source)

"Inspired by an antipasto that's popular at New York City's Lupa, this substantial salad takes a hearty, rich green that's usually cooked and proves how delicious it can be when served raw."

Yield: Makes 6 servings       active time: 25 min       total time: 25 min

INGREDIENTS

3/4 to 1 pound [340 to 454 grams] lacinato kale (also called Tuscan kale) or tender regular kale, stems and center ribs discarded
2 tablespoons [30 mL] finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 tablespoons [25 mL] fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon [1 mL] salt {note: I don't think the extra salt is needed. I find the cheese salty enough}
1/4 teaspoon [1 mL] black pepper
4 1/2 tablespoons [70 mL] extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces [60 g] or 1 cup [250 mL] coarsely grated ricotta salata

PREPARATION

  1. Working in batches, cut kale crosswise into very thin slices. {I used scissors. After I established a technique and rhythm, it became a pleasant, relaxing task carried out in early morning sunshine & quiet on the balcony}
  2. Whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well.
  3. Toss kale and ricotta salata in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat well, then season with salt and pepper. {I suggest just enough dressing to coat lightly and omit the salt}.
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The ingredients in my version

I'll be the first to admit my salad photo is not as pretty or professional as this Gourmet image but I'm pretty sure my version was as fresh and flavourful -- credit to good seeds, compost-enriched soil and the kindness of Mother Nature who showed a mostly sunny face from early May through mid-June. 

IMG_3808 Greens: Italian Heirloom Kale, 'Lacinato'
Description & nutrition information (PDF)
Ricotta Salata_3748Cheese: Ricotta Salata
Description & nutrition information (PDF)
IMG_3735Extra virgin olive oil & lemon

 

IMG_3830Kale ribbons & grated cheese, "undressed"

 

IMG_3836

A variation on the original Gourmet recipe, served with sliced cucumbers.

 

My rating: 3.5 out of 4 forks (using the Epicurious rating system). The cheese was a bit salty for my palate. I'll make the recipe again, but use ricotta, though it will give a different texture. I'd also like to try some of the reviewers' suggestions such as serving the salad on crostini and other breads and crackers or adding grated carrots, hard boiled eggs & sunflower seeds and putting it over brown rice to make a one-dish supper. I think finely sliced kale, grated cheese and other finely grated and minced veggies would be a tasty filling in a rice-paper roll.

 

Recommended reading

From the blog 365 Days of Kale:

Eat the seasons|kale

New York Times Recipes for Health: Kale

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I'm looking forward to your comments about this natural super-food and ways of enjoying it in any season.