Monday, May 26, 2014

Kale and Arugula Salad with a Red Wine Vinaigrette

I kind of created this salad by accident.  Jake was working late and the kids and I were going to  my friend Natalie's house for dinner.  I wanted to bring a salad but I knew I wouldn't have time to go to the  grocery store that day, so whatever I had in the fridge was going to have to work.  I had kale and arugula but I wasn't exactly sure what other veggies I had.  When I got home and started to poke around the fridge, I discovered grape tomatoes and cucumbers.  I had the ingredients for salad dressing, but I wanted to add one more ingredient and I thought walnuts would do the trick.  I saw the goat cheese last minute and threw that in as well.  It actually did this really delicious emulsifying thing when the salad was mixed and each bite ended up having a perfectly subtle taste of goat cheese.  I added fennel (one of my favorite veggies - fenouil en français) the next time I made the salad and decided that it complimented it perfectly.  If you need a nut free version try substituting the walnuts with golden raisins or dried sour cherries.  The same goes for dairy free - just omit the goat cheese.  I know kale is really popular right now and you see it in so many recipes but I love it and can't get enough of it.  The kind that I prefer is called Lacinato Kale or Dino Kale.  It can even be called Tuscan Kale and had a long tradition in Italian cuisine.  I find it a bit softer and more delicate than curly kale and it's so tasty.  Arugula is my favorite green and the two pair really well together.  The dressing that I use for this salad is so easy and very basic.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, never buy salad dressing!  Making your own is cheaper, fresher, and better tasting.  It just takes a few minutes and it lasts in the fridge for 7-10 days.  Enjoy this salad.  It makes a perfect lunch or light dinner and its so healthy.  Sometimes accidents were meant to happen ;)    

Ready to serve!

You want to make sure that you wash your kale really well.  You'll also want to remove the tough stem in the middle. I think it's easiest to take a knife and just cut down both sides of the stem.  Make sure your knife is sharp and the cutting surface is stable.  One last thing…once the kale is de-stemed and chopped, take a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and massage it into the kale.  Kind of like you would do if you were making kale chips.  This really softens it up and makes it even tastier!

I love tomatoes…they are gorgeous!

La Recette:

4 cups kale, washed, de-stemed and roughly chopped
2 cups arugula, washed and dried well
1 1/4 cups English cucumber quartered
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup fennel, cut very thinly or shaved on a mandolin

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, (Trader Joe's has a delicious one)
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
*This dressing is doubled.  You will only use about half on the salad.  I always make extra because I can use it as a marinade or for other salads during the week.  You can cut the dressing recipe in half if needed.

1 - large salad bowl
1 - medium bowl
1 - chef's knife
1 - cutting board
1 - strainer
Measuring cups and spoons
Mandolin (optional)
Salad tongs

-Wash and dry all of the greens well.  Roughly chop the kale and using a little olive oil, massage it into the kale to tenderize it.
-Prep the cucumber, tomatoes and fennel.  Set aside on the cutting board.
-Toast the walnuts.  I use a toaster oven and I toast them on medium high for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant.  Once they have cooled, give them a rough chop.    
-Next, prepare the dressing.  In the medium bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk vigorously for about 20 seconds.  
-Pour 1/2 cup of the dressing into the bottom of the salad bowl (you should have an additional 1/2 cup for another use).  Next, place the greens in the bowl, followed by the cucumber, tomatoes, fennel and walnuts.  Add the goat cheese in last.  
-Refrigerate the salad or serve immediately.  Toss well, making sure you turn up all of the dressing on the bottom of the bowl.  

-Serves  4

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