Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wilted Kale Salad with Lemon & Deep-Fried Garlic

kale salad
If raw kale is a little too bitter or tough for your taste and you're looking for a different sort of salad, here's one I made the other night. My inspiration was the warm spinach salad served at my favorite Greek restaurant, which I usually order with fried calamari. My wilted kale salad recipe is vegetarian (vegan, in fact), but you could certainly top it with crumbled feta cheese, grilled shrimp or even fried calamari. I surrounded the kale with cucumber and tomato, although any salad vegetables of your choice would work--and you could substitute a balsamic or herb vinaigrette instead of lemon juice if you prefer.

The longer you saute the kale, the more tender and mellow-flavored it will get. For more of a bite, both in flavor and texture, remove from heat as soon as the kale begins to wilt. For a kinder, gentler kale, cook a little longer and even let it steam a bit by covering your pan for a few minutes.

1 large bunch of kale (I used red kale but any variety is fine)
1 to 2 Tbs Olive Oil
Deep-Fried Garlic Cloves
1/4 cup chopped onion
Salt & Pepper to taste
Approx. 1/4 cup (or more) deep-fried garlic cloves*
1 small tomato, chopped
1/2 small cucumber, peeled & chopped
Juice of half a lemon

*Note: To make deep-fried garlic cloves, use my recipe for Easy "Roasted" Garlic but increase the time for boiling in water to 5 minutes (until tiny blisters form on the cloves), and cook in the hot oil for 15 minutes or until deep golden-brown. The surface of the cloves will be lightly crisped and they'll have a mellow, almost nutty, toasted-garlic flavor. Remove to paper towels to drain and cool, sprinkling with sea salt if desired while they're still hot.

Salad Spinner/Pair
Buy salad spinner
Wash the kale well to remove any dirt or grit, shake off as much water as possible, then strip the leaves off the stems. Discard the stems (or compost them, or feed them to your chickens if you have any). I use a salad spinner to remove excess water from the stripped leaves.

Heat the oil in a deep, large frying pan or skillet with a lid, then saute the onions over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the kale (depending on the size of your skillet, you might only be able to fit half of it), cover and let cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes--this will soften the leaves on the bottom and make it easier to stir, or to fit any remaining leaves.

Uncover, stir well, season with salt & pepper as desired (I use Kosher salt and several twists from my pepper mill). Let the kale cook uncovered, for several minutes, stirring from time to time, until the kale is just wilted. If you prefer, you can cover the pan to let the kale steam for a few minutes, which will further tenderize it and mellow out the flavor.

When the kale is as wilted as you'd like it, remove from heat, spoon onto serving dish, garnish with deep-fried garlic cloves, tomato and cucumber, and drizzle with freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Serve warm.

Zestfully yours,

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