Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Last night Alex and I decided at the last minute to invite his brother over for dinner.  I'm ashamed to admit that a large part of the reason for inviting him over for dinner was entirely selfish - I wanted to make this salad and I knew that making it for just Alex and I would be a little ridiculous.  On Friday morning I swung by Whole Foods on my way to work and I picked up some really beautiful Tuscan kale.  I knew I wanted to make a salad with it, but I wanted to make something different.  We have made several different kale salads in the past (many of which were either Caesar-like or featured a lemony vinaigrette and cheese combo) and I wanted something new.  I have looked up this recipe several times and considered making it, but the timing (and/or the contents of our fridge) never seemed right.  Luckily we had both Tuscan kale and Brussels sprouts in the fridge yesterday and with a third person at the dinner table it didn't seem quite as ridiculous to make a heaping bowl of kale and Brussels sprouts salad.  And even more luckily, I really loved this salad.  It had everything - a the tangy mustardy vinaigrette, salty cheese, crunchy nuttiness from the almonds...  We have made several kale salads in the past where our chief complaint was that the salad was missing something crunchy and/or buttery (e.g. croutons or toasted nuts).  This recipe felt, for lack of a better word, "complete" - I can't think of anything that it was missing or anything that I would really change.  Some of the reviews on Epicurious complained that the recipe doesn't create enough dressing.  I like my salads to be lightly dressed so it was perfect for me (and I used the entire amount of dressing), but if you like a little more dressing on your salad I would suggest making a little additional dressing.  Some reviewers suggested doubling the dressing so take that into consideration when you make the salad - I would say look at how much shredded Brussels sprouts and kale you have and go from there.  And be a little more generous than you think you need to be.  I think it also helped that we dressed the salad about 30 minutes prior to sitting down to eat so the kale and Brussels sprouts had some time to hang out in the dressing and wilt down a teensy bit.  Other reviewers added pomegranate seeds to the recipe.  I'm not sure that the pomegranates are necessary in my book, but it's an option.  I would serve this salad at any dinner party - it is different, full of flavor and delicious.  You can also throw it together far in advance of dinner (although you might not want to dress it too far ahead) and just let it hang out while you prepare the rest of dinner.  I think it would make a wonderful counterpoint to a rich holiday meal or an interesting addition to a potluck dinner.  I will definitely be making this salad again and I'm pretty excited that between this recipe and the Mediterranean Salad with Prosciutto and Pomegranate I have two new delicious and festive salad recipes for future dinner parties.  Of course, future dinner parties are going to have to wait until we get out a one bedroom apartment in NYC, but that's ok. 

Recipe after the jump!

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad
Bon Appetit
November 2011

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 pounds total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
12 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
1 cup finely grated Pecorino

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 tablespoon oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.
Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. 

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

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