Kale & Apple Slaw

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We’re all trying to eat a little healthier in January, but you know what, it’s hard! It’s freezing in East Hampton and after a long day, all I want is a big glass of red wine and a bowl of pasta. Or maybe some kind of braised meat. Or maybe pasta with a braised meat sauce? See what I mean? 

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But vegetables don’t have to be a punishment. This Kale and Apple Slaw is one of my favorite winter salads because while it’s full of produce and relatively healthy (Parmesan is healthy, right?? ), it’s also totally satisfying. The slaw has lots of different textures and flavors that make it much more interesting and delicious than your average bowl of kale. With the crunchy, sweet apple,  sharp onion, toasted pecans and salty Parmesan, each bite is like a little meal in itself.

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If you’re looking for diet food, you might want to keep looking. But if you’re looking for a tasty salad that won’t leave you feeling hungry and a little sadder than you were before you ate it, you’ve come to the right place.

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This slaw is great either on its own for lunch or as a side to hearty winter main courses. I especially love it with roast chicken or turkey chili. The recipe makes a LOT of salad, but leftovers keep well if you aren’t feeding a crowd. (The pecans and apples will get a little bit soggy if the salad sits overnight, but not enough to keep me from eating this salad straight from the tupperware for lunch the next day.)

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Kale and Apple Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 bunch curly kale (12 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup very thinly sliced red onion (about ¼ onion)
  • 1 crisp, sweet apple, such as Fuji, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese, see note (2 ounces)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a sheet pan and roast for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool, then roughly chop the pecans and set aside.

Wash the kale leaves and pat them dry with a paper towel. Lay the leaves flat on a cutting board and cut down both sides of the center rib, discarding the rib. Using a sharp knife, cut the leaves crosswise into thin strips, as you would for coleslaw.

In a small, glass measuring cup, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Whisk until smooth. Pour the dressing over the kale, and using tongs or two serving spoons, toss the kale for a full thirty seconds. Set aside to let the kale marinate for at least 20 minutes, or up to several hours in the fridge, covered, before serving.

Meanwhile, place the onions in a mesh strainer or colander and rinse under warm tap water for thirty seconds to remove some of their “bite.” Drain and set aside.

When ready to serve, add the pecans, onions, and apple to the kale and toss well to combine. Add the Parmesan, toss gently, and serve.

Note: I use a vegetable peeler to make big shavings of Parmesan.


Kale Caesar with Roasted Summer Corn and Cornbread Croutons

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Do you like Caesar salads? Do you like corn on the cob? Do you enjoy the taste of raw kale masked by a delicious, creamy dressing? If so, this salad is for you. Side salads on summer buffets are usually an afterthought- after all, how can a bowl of lettuce hold a candle to baked beans, buttery corn on the cob and big stacks of tomatoes and mozzarella? But this salad earns its spot on the table.

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Local corn at Balsam Farms in East Hampton…even the corn in the Hamptons is famous.

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The kale is cut into thin ribbons so it’s easy to eat and the dressing gets well distributed. Tangled throughout the salad are crunchy corn kernels and chunks of cornbread that soak up all that Caesar dressing as they sit, making this a great recipe to put together in advance.  There’s just something about the lemony  dressing and toasted cornbread  that makes this difficult to stop eating, which is not something I usually say about kale salads.

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Caesar dressing is traditionally made with Parmesan cheese, but I used Pecorino in this recipe because I think the sharper, saltier flavor goes really well with the slightly sweet cornbread and roasted corn. If you’re worried about using raw eggs, you can substitute mayo or Greek yogurt. And if you don’t like anchovies, you could leave them out, but I wouldn’t recommend it (unless you want to make the dish vegetarian.) A very experienced cook recently told me, “Never underestimate the power of an anchovy.” You won’t know it’s there but it gives the dressing its fundamental Caesar-ness.

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This salad is a serious crowd pleaser and an ideal dish for a big summer dinner. The recipe serves 6-8 generously, but you could cut in half if you’re cooking for a smaller group.

Kale Caesar Salad with Roasted Summer Corn and Cornbread Croutons

Ingredients

  1. 3 cups diced cornbread or corn muffins
  2. kernels cut from 4 large ears of fresh corn
  3. 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  4. 3 bunches Tuscan kale
  5. Caesar Dressing, recipe follows
  6. ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  7. kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and arrange two evenly spaced oven racks.
  2. Spread the cornbread and the corn onto two separate sheet pans. Drizzle the corn with the olive oil and toss to combine. Sprinkle each sheet pan lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing the cornbread and corn halfway through. Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, chiffonade the kale: cut along each side of the rib to remove the leaves on each side. You should end up with two long strips from each rib. Roll the leaves lengthwise into “cigars” and slice them thinly crosswise to cut the kale into ribbons. Wash the kale and dry it using a salad spinner.
  4. To assemble the salad, pour the dressing over the kale and toss well. Add the corn and croutons, and the Pecorino, and toss again. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to several hours, bringing the salad back to room temperature before serving.


Caesar Dressing

  • Servings: Makes about 1 1/3 cups
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Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard, such as Grey Poupon
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 anchovy, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature (optional)*
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, lightly packed

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, anchovy, egg yolk, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined. With the processor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream. Add the Pecorino, and pulse until just combined. Refrigerate in a sealed container until ready to use.
  2. *If not using the egg yolk, substitute 1 1/2 tbs mayonnaise or whole-milk Greek yogurt