Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kale Caesar Salad

Kale Caesar Salad
Caesar salad has been a lifelong food love of mine.  Throughout childhood, I used to request it specially for my birthday dinners.  My mom made it other times of the year too, and it always felt like an occasion.  Creamy, tangy, bite of garlic, and that almost unplaceable saltiness.  Of course, my mother made her dressing from scratch, including garlic croutons, and mixed the dressing right in the bowl, the traditional way.  Many restaurant Caesars have since been a disappointment to me.  

The texture of "dino" kale is our favorite for holding in the caesar dressing.
It never occurred to me to learn how to make Caesar salad until a couple of years ago when one of the city's best food trucks went bricks-and-mortar.  They had a kale Caesar on the menu and I took the gamble.  Though when the menu advertises the use of boquerones and warns about raw eggs, it's probably going to be good.  Using kale as the greens sidestepped my issue with salads generally, which is that lettuce is nutritionally void.  Water and cellulose?  What’s the point?  Anyway, the salad was really good. And I was pretty confident I could recreate it at home.

My interest in Caesar renewed, I acquired my mother’s recipe, and true-to-form, did not follow it.  She steeps crushed garlic in extra virgin olive oil the day before, then brushes it on stale bread to make croutons, but that is simply too much planning for me.  This recipe does not include croutons because of a food sensitivity, and while I think the salad is great without them, they would be great with them too, or with your favorite chopped nuts or seeds.  Whatever you do, do not leave out the anchovies!  The salad won’t end up tasting fishy, but it absolutely won’t be Caesar without those salty little fish.  Anchovies are a relatively cheap and good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, niacin, selenium, iron, calcium, and phosphorous (nutritional info here).  Just in case you want to eat any of those things.
Garlic and anchovy, a match made in salad heaven.
 The key to using raw kale is to give it a good massage as you work in the dressing.  Just squeeze, mash, and rub for about 5 minutes, or until the kale is about a third of the original volume.  You should not squeeze so hard that you are juicing the kale--if you start seeing any green liquid you have gone too far.  Aside from the nutritional advantage, using kale in place of lettuce allows you to dress this salad ahead of time.  Slightly wilted kale does not taste weird or feel slimy, and is actually a little easier to digest.  I have eaten leftover kale Caesar the day after making it and it was still delicious.  Try that with your romaine!  You can use any kind of kale that you like, but I prefer lacinato ("dino") kale because the dressing gets caught in all the little crevices. (Check out different kale varieties)

Kale Caesar Salad

1 bunch kale, ribs removed and torn into pieces
1 clove garlic
1 anchovy fillet
1 tsp. powdered or Dijon mustard
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (or to taste)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground black pepper, to taste (my taste is to smother it, coarse-grind-style, but your mileage may vary)
Garlic and anchovy paste
 Mash the garlic clove and anchovy fillet together in a mortar and pestle until they form a fine paste.  Put all the ingredients into a large bowl (I usually go in the order listed above), then massage and toss until the kale is reduced in volume and the dressing is well mixed and creamy.  
Ready to get your hands dirty?
Since your hand will be covered in dressing, I probably don’t have to tell you to check the seasoning.  Between the Parmesan and the anchovy, I have never had to add salt, but it’s always good to check the acidity and overall balance.  If it’s overly acidic, a little more oil or Parmesan will balance it out, but be careful not to add too much oil or the dressing will separate.
Massage it!

If you or someone you’re feeding has a sensitive digestive tract that has trouble with raw greens and/or garlic, you can absolutely lightly steam the kale (though massage and a little marination time should yield the same results), and use roasted garlic or garlic-infused olive oil.  Garlic oil is super easy: crush two cloves of garlic in a bowl and pour 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil over it, cover, and let sit overnight.  If you do try this, let us know it worked out in the comments!
Kale Caesar Salad 


  1. My comment is that this salad is delicious!!!!!

  2. by far the best Caesar salad you'll ever eat!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...