Winter Bread Salad with Prosciutto and Kale

January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been trying to get on board the kale salad trend, with little success.  On paper, kale salad sounds like a spectacular proposition.  Local? Yes! Seasonal? Absolutely! Beautiful specimens of all types of kale are available from local farms in the dreariest, coldest months.  Nutritious? Sure – dark, leafy greens prevent all sorts of nasty conditions.  Delicious?…. awkward silence…

I really like kale – especially cavalo nero (a.k.a. ‘dino kale’).  But I’ve always eaten it cooked.  Until this year I equated eating raw kale with eating a raw potato.  It might not kill you, but it’s just not done.  Slowly it has dawned on me that raw kale salad is definitely done and it’s done a lot, all over town. Recently I was at a restaurant with my mom and the lady at the table next to us was tucking into the house kale salad. It was a giant mound of raw, shredded kale. My mom and I both looked at it surreptitiously.  My mom leaned in and whispered, ‘Someone’s going to have terrible gas.’  I nodded sagely in agreement. However, this week I learned about the art of kale massage.  Have you already heard about this?  Practitioners of kale massage transform greens from tough and unyielding to supple and wilting.  And that’s how I like my kale.

After learning this trick, I knew I had found the missing piece for my Winter Bread Salad.  The dark green of the kale next to the light green of the romaine is lovely, and the flavors are just right.  A fantastic light dinner or side to roasted meat.

Winter Bread Salad with Prosciutto and Kale

Serves 4

For the salad:

I bunch cavalo nero kale (small, young leaves will be more tender)

salt

½ head Romaine (or one heart), cut crosswise into 1” strips

½ lb fresh mozzarella, sliced into bite sized pieces

6 oz prosciutto, shredded

½ C currants, soaked in warm water for 15 min and drained

½ loaf of ciabatta, crust removed and cut into 1” cubes

2 Tblsp olive oil

salt

For the dressing:

Juice from ½ lemon (Meyer lemon is a nice choice here)

1 Tblsp balsamic

1 plump garlic clove, peeled & smashed

1/3C evoo

1. To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice and vinegar in a small bowl.  Add the smashed garlic clove and whisk in the olive oil.

2. For the salad…Remove the kale’s tough stem by holding onto its tip and yanking your fingers along it’s length, like a rip cord.  You’ll end up with the thick stem in one hand and the kale leaf in the other.   Cut the leaves into ¼” ribbons and put them in a large salad bowl.  Now it’s time to massage the kale (you wouldn’t BELIEVE the day it’s had). To relax the greens, light a candle… just kidding… sprinkle the kale with a teaspoon of salt and work it over with your hands, squeezing and tossing, squeezing and tossing.  Lo and behold, the kale will begin to wilt.  Set it aside, leave it in peace.

3. Toss the bread cubes in olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and toast the bread.  Turn the bread every few minutes with a spatula until the cubes are golden on all sides.  Take the skillet off the heat.

4. Combine the salad ingredients with the kale: toss in the Romaine, shredded prosciutto, mozzarella, drained currants and toasted bread.  Fish the crushed garlic out of the dressing, then dress the salad, and you’re done.

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