Anyone who knows me knows that I love lacinato kale. I mean it just tastes so good, yes, you heard me right, it really tastes good. It’s not just me who feels that way, my kids prefer a kale salad over an arugula or spinach one any-day, and John, well he likes all types of salads, he’s not a picky guy. Kale is uber healthy, and if stored properly the leaves can last for about 2 weeks in the fridge. Kale is also a great make-ahead salad. It’s one of those salads that you can make ahead, like the morning of an event, and have it taste great at dinner. Kale salads make great leftovers. I love that I can make up a salad on Monday and then eat leftovers on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it tastes great all three days. I will have to say that lacinato kale is the kale to try first if you are new to kale. Lacinato kale really tastes more like a lettuce, especially when you massage the dressing into it. Curly kale on the other hand, tastes bitter and can leave a chalky aftertaste in your mouth. I think most people who have tried kale have tried curly kale, and that’s why kale has gotten the bad reputation. Please, just try a salad with lacinato kale (sometimes called tuscan or dinosaur kale) and you might be converted.
Anyway, I’m always on the hunt for new kale recipes. I already have 5 kale salads that I love, and my top two salads are my lacinato kale salad and miso kale salad. My lacinato salad has turned kale haters into kale lovers, so that is saying a lot. This ricotta salata salad may also be one that turns people around, not only because it tastes great, but it’s so easy to prepare, and much like my lacinato salad uses pantry ingredients. This is Eli’s favorite kale salad thus far. Many of you may not be too familiar with ricotta salata. Ricotta salata is an aged ricotta that has been pressed, so it looses moisture and becomes crumbly and easy to grate. It’s a fairly mild tasting cheese, (I think that’s why Eli loves it so much) but has an amazing salty flavor to it. The other great thing about ricotta salata, is its price tag. You can usually get a chunk of cheese for under $4.00. So, this is a great salad for those of you on a budget. Don’t look for ricotta salata cheese near the traditional ricotta cheeses, (the ones in the plastic containers) this cheese will be located in the cheese section of your grocery store, where the fancier cheeses are.
As I said earlier, this is a great make-ahead salad. I often make it in the morning and then have some for lunch or dinner that night, and then gobble the rest up the next day. It’s really the perfect bring to work salad or travel salad. Pair this salad with some quinoa cakes or quinoa patties, and you have yourself a nutritional power packed lunch.
kale and ricotta salata salad:
Recipe slightly adapted from Epicurious
serves 4 to 6
- 3/4 to 1 pound of lacinato kale, also called dinosaur or tuscan kale (approximately 2 medium sized bunches of kale) – This may sound like a lot of kale, but remember it breaks down as you massage in the dressing.
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots (minced well) - You can get 2 tablespoons from one standard shallot.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated ricotta salata cheese - Feel free to add less if you want.
A note about purchasing lacinato kale: Don’t purchase lacinato kale that feels tough and paper-like. It will not breakdown and thus will not absorb the dressing even when you massage it. Kale is best when its soft and pliable, (feels like regular lettuce) as it absorbs the dressing and is tender when eaten.
I like to make the dressing first before I get my kale ready so that the flavors can mesh together, and the shallots can marinate in the lemon juice. Squeeze your lemon and peel and finely chop up your shallot. Make sure to mince it fine so you don’t have big chunks of shallots in the dressing.
Get out a small bowl or glass measuring cup, and add in the 2 tablespoons minced shallots, 1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; whisk to combine.
Wash and de-stem your kale, and then cut it into thin strips. I show you step-by-step photos on how to de-stem and slice kale in this post. Put the sliced kale into a large salad bowl.
Pour the dressing over the kale (enough to coat the leaves well) and make sure to massage it well so that all of the kale absorbs the dressing. When I say, massage your kale, I literally mean, get your hands in there and massage it. When you massage kale, not only does it absorb the dressing, but it also breaks down the kale almost like when it’s cooked, and takes away any bitter flavor. Eli is demonstrating below how to massage the kale. Aren’t his little hands the cutest?