Well, summer is officially over (sorry for reminding you)! It seems that summer brought an increase in entertaining. One of my rules for entertaining is, do as much as possible ahead of time. This is important to allow me to enjoy the party with my guests! I love kale salads for entertaining. Kale is not actually my favourite green. However, I love that kale salads can be made ahead without turning into a wilted, mushy mess. In fact, kale salads actually improve by being dressed and allowed to sit. Resting kale in the dressing softens the hardy leaves making them more palatable.
I used to try to make a different salad every time I entertained, but this one is so popular (and so simple) it has turned into a standard. I made it many time this summer and will continue making during the colder months! The key to this recipe is a simple, garlicy vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is super easy, because instead of chopping a bunch of garlic, you simple smash whole cloves and let them steep in the dressing. This gives you a lovely garlic flavour without biting into large, pungent pieces when you are eating the salad. You can mix up the type of kale, the nuts & the cheese you use to create a different version (although I recommend sticking with a strongly flavoured hard cheese.
I usually dress this salad and let it sit in the fridge overnight and add the cheese, nuts, salt & pepper just before serving. The recipe is meant as a side dish, but add your favourite protein, like grilled, chicken, steak or shrimp and you have light but satisfying main course salad! No matter which way you serve this salad it is a guest favourite! There are rarely leftovers, and if there are, someone is always willing to take them home for lunch the next day! Check out the recipe below for what is going to be your new favourite kale salad!
This is Lacinato, Tuscan, Black or Dinosaur Kale. Any type of Kale works in this salad, but this is the most tender kale and the best option if you are not making the salad ahead of time.
Simple Lemon-Garlic Kale Salad
(serves 8 - 12)
125 g (1½ cups) sliced almonds, toasted
80 g (1/3 cup) cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 to 4 lemons)
110 g (½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed with the flat side of a knife, peeled and left whole
370 to 480 g (2 to 3 large bunches) kale - any variety or a combination; washed and dried
150 g (1½ cups) freshly grated Parmesan
In a dry skillet, toast almonds until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, combine lemon juice and 1 heaping teaspoon salt. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Add garlic cloves and set aside to steep for at least an hour, longer if you want a more pronounced garlic flavour.
Cut the tough stems out of the kale leaves. Working in batches, cut the kale into thin ribbons by stacking the leaves together tightly and slicing thinly. This need not be done very precisely or neatly; the idea is to end up with a kind of slaw.
Place chopped kale in a very large bowl. Remove and discard garlic cloves from dressing and pour half the dressing over the salad and toss. Let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, or cover with plastic and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. If making ahead of time, store remaining dressing in refrigerator. When ready to serve, sprinkle surface with almonds and then with cheese. Taste salad and add more dressing if needed, tossing to coat thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to your preferences.
adapted from NYT Cooking