My first attempt at cooking with raw kale, although “cooking” is a loose term in this recipe. We’ve been having the kind of heatwave in Toronto that leaves your shoulders scorched and everyone panting for a table at one of our too-few patios (despite the seemingly endless supply of new restaurants, there never seems to be enough patios to keep this city’s crowds satisfied). It’s the kind of humidity that has you reaching for cold salads that you may or may not have been smart enough to make that morning, loath to turn on anything, even a toaster over, that might generate more heat. It’s that kind of salad.
This is adapted from 101 Cookbooks’ Raw Tuscan Kale Salad. My version also uses some pearly israeli couscous that I found in Kensington, and some bright purple kale I could resist. The key is in the preparation– smearing sea salt with mustard and a smashed clove of garlic until smooth, slicing the kale into ribbons. Take the time to make this before you run to work in the morning, you’ll be glad you did.
INGREDIENTS2 cloves of garlic 1 tbsp stone ground mustard good quality olive oil 1/4 grated pecorino, parmesan or even asiago cheese 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes salt and pepper 3 tbsp chive vinegar* a couple tbsp minced chives 1/4 head of cabbage 1/2 bunch of kale 4-5 radishes, sliced 1 cup cooked israeli couscous, or orzo pasta (that pasta that looks like little teardrops) *chive vinegar– a truly magical ingredient. There’s a reason why it’s my header image. Stuff a jam jar full of chive flowers and pour white or apple cider vinegar. Keep in fridge until it turns pink, then use within a month. optional: toasted pine nuts or almonds for crunch (although to be honest, who has time to toast nuts these days?)
Cook the couscous in 2 1/2 cups of boiling salted water. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let the couscous cook until al dente, about 10 mins. Turn off heat and rinse couscous under cold water in a sieve, set aside.
Grate 2 cloves of garlic into a large bowl, blend in 1/2 sea salt and mustard until smooth. Add the cheese, vinegar, and roughly 3-4 tbsp of olive oil. Add red pepper flakes and chopped chives.
Wash and shake dry the kale leaves, slice in half, then slice thinly into 1/4 inch ribbons. Slice the cabbage thinly as if you’re making coleslaw. Add the kale, cabbage and couscous into the bowl and coat throughly with the dressing.
This is not a salad that is best to eat right away, although I couldn’t help having a bowlful. No, it’s best after at least 1/2 hour when the kale has had a chance to soften and relax in all that garlicky dressing. You can have it on its own, or with a baguette and potato salad. It’s also a very customizable salad, and you could easily substitute feta for the pecorino (add the feta afterwards) and would quite happily absorb radishes, fennel, or grated daikon or carrots.
Or, like me, you can take it with you for a 5 hour sail across lake Ontario to Niagara-on-the-Lake and share with a bunch of sailors’ wives over a nice cold lager or chardonnay.