All Kale Caesar!

This has to be one of my all-time favorite salads. I first ate it at Vinaigrette in Santa Fe. This restaurant happens to be a client, so actually I was doing a little ‘market research.’ The owner, Erin Wade, has basically nailed the concept of eating healthy and enjoying food at the same time. I love everything about her restaurant –and all of her salads are to die for. If you ever find yourself in Santa Fe, don’t miss out on the chance to eat there.

Okay, onto the salad. Raw kale is my absolute go-to superfood and a fantastic ingredient that many people claim to hate. I eat it all the time, but mostly when I feel like crap. If I’ve missed a few workouts, ate more ice cream than I should have, or after a long road trip where I haven’t had the chance to cook or eat anything but snacks for days. Well, throw out everything negative you’ve ever thought about kale and try this salad. It’s an eggless version and dairy is optional. As a classic caesar, it’s not suitable for vegetarians because there are anchovies in the dressing. Yes, there are anchovies. (I’m always shocked at how many people who cringe over the thought of eating anchovies, yet love caesar salads as long as there aren’t anchovies on top. I have news for you – there are always anchovies in the dressing.)

kale_leaves

RECIPE: All Kale Caesar Salad
They key here is the dressing should be blow your doors down salty and acidic, because the lemon and the salt actually cook the kale – in the same way it would cook seafood in a ceviche. That’s what keeps the kale from being a rough as you would imagine it would be to chew. The amount of anchovies is really your call. The recipe calls for 6 to 8 anchovies, but put more if you like – I do! Plus they are high in vitamin D.

For the dressing:

  • juice of 1.5 lemons (or 2)
  • at least 8 anchovy fillets depending on size and their oil (a whole can will do)
  • splash (2 TB) of champagne or white wine vinegar
  • almost but not quite one TB of regular (creamy not grainy) dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot or half a big one (rough chop)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (start with that and add more if needed)
  • 1 TB of water
  • salt and pepper to taste (sea and freshly cracked, if you have it)

Put everything in the blender to emulsify. Like any salad dressing, adjust to your taste. But remember the blow your doors down intensity, so don’t imagine drizzling this on baby spinach when you make your adjustments.

For the saladkale_chopped

  • head of kale
  • macadamia nuts
  • freshly grated parmesan or parmigiano-reggiano (NOT the stuff in the green can)

Finely chop the leafy part of green curly kale (pull the leaves off the stem, but don’t worry about the veins, those are fine. What’s more important is that you chop the leaves fairly fine because kale is so intense, so more like a fine coleslaw size, like an 1/8th to a 1/4 inch slices. I usually do something like a chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll it up as best you can and slice it like you would do to basil).

Assemble
Toss the kale with your preferred amount of dressing – start on the conservative side and add more as needed. Add a good amount of chopped macadamia nuts and a generous handful of grated parmesan (optional – I skip this if I’m having an extra clean, non-dairy week, but it’s not nearly as good without it). You can also toss in some more rough chopped anchovy if it doesn’t seem like the flavor is coming through enough for your taste. And a little extra freshly cracked pepper never hurt anyone. This is a really bold, but really delicious and balanced salad. Not to mention how insanely good it is for you.

Add ons
To make this a complete meal, serve it with grilled chicken, sliced pork tenderloin, grilled shrimp, salmon, sliced filet or other lean cut of beef – whatever floats your boat. I always cook a bunch of chicken breasts on Sunday afternoon so I have protein to add to salads all week long.

kale_salad

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