Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kale Salad with Pecorino and Pecans

For those of you who don't know, Texas is famous for its pecans. Though now that I think about it, if people don't know about our pecans, are we actually famous for them?? Either way, if Texas pecans aren't world famous, they should be. I have fond childhood memories of sitting around bulging bags of foraged nuts and shelling them with my family. A few weeks ago when a large box arrived in the mail from my amazing mother-in-law, I squealed with delight when I saw two large bags of pecans. I've been tossing them in almost everything: arugula salad, warm grain salad, chopped fall salad, roasted brussels sprouts, pecan pie, pecan cookies, you name it.
This weekend I made one of my favorite recipes, a simple kale salad from The Kitchn.  It's a great salad to bring to a picnic, a holiday potluck, or in your lunch at work. And it's versatile! This time I threw in some of my pecans and a little whole grain dijon mustard in the dressing. One day I topped it with a handful of dried cranberries, and another day I tossed it with diced pear, both adding a little bit of sweetness that was great with the tangy dressing and salty cheese. If you don't have pecans, try almonds or walnuts. It's easy peasy!
Serves 4-6

1 large bunch of kale, stemmed (I used purple kale this time, but lacinato or good ol' curly kale work too)
~4 Tb lemon juice
1 Tb whole grain dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
~1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
4 oz pecorino, finely grated
Optional: dried cranberries, diced pear

Stack and roll the kale leaves together (similar to how you prepare to chiffonade basil) and slice into thin ribbons. Place into a large bowl and "massage" the leaves a little bit with your hands to help make the leaves more tender. 

Add the pecans and pecorino to the bowl, and toss to combine.

In a separate bowl, add the lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper, and whisk until the salt is dissolved. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking continuously, until the dressing is emulsified.

Taste the dressing and adjust according to your taste (If it's too tart, add in a little more oil. Not tart enough? Squeeze in a little more lemon juice. Add more salt and pepper if necessary)

Pour the dressing, little by little, into the bowl with the salad, tossing to coat, until the salad is dressed how you like it. (You may not need all of the dressing.)

Let the salad sit at least an hour at room temperature before serving.

Optional: Serve topped with dried cranberries or diced pear.

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