Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Kale Salad with Red Onion, Pan Roasted Mushrooms and Garlicky Parmesan Mustard Dressing

Kale, Collards, Swiss Chard, Rainbow Chard, Mustard Greens, these are all superfoods and things we should all have in our diets way more than we do normally. These leafy greens are full of goodness and all the things that do a body good. But eating them...well...actually enjoying eating them, well that's another story.

When I was a kid leafy greens made it onto my plate via two sources. The first was of course my southern background. Cooked greens, I mean VERY cooked greens, collards in particular but also spinach were readily prepared and available at suppertime. They were normally cooked down to a green mush and were flavored with ham, bacon or vinegar ( which explains my penchant to this day for salty greens ) and served warm on the dinner plate.

The other source was the industrialized food machine which grew larger while I was a kid making canned and frozen vegetables available every night for the home cook, without much thought or prep. I mean there is some truth to the adage "just open a can!" Greens were certainly one of those vegetables and my Mother and Grandmother did their share of serving us prepped foods for dinner. For one thing it was cheaper. Navy families in the 1970's didn't make a lot of money. And secondly fresh fresh produce was not always easy to come by.

And while growing up we ate a salad with every meal, I don't think the general home cooks ever thought of using such raw ingredients as Kale in a salad. That's a pretty new thing outside of vegan and vegetarian cookery and the foodie kitchens of the west coast. But the age of the super green is upon us and with it the introduction of Kale salad to the masses.

Kale is the truly the new superfood these days and why not. Loaded with fiber, vitamins and antioxidants it is a great food to have in one's diet. But let's face it, it's also tough, bitter and kinda tastes like dirt. Pardon me for thinking this way but salads are only great because of the things in them or on them that make them taste good. And lets face it, most of that taste comes from the dressing. So that's where I started with any salad let alone a Kale salad.

Now I have had a lot of Kale salads in the last two years. Here in New York it is all the rage. Everyone loves a Kale salad up here, says the New York Times, proclaiming it the salad dejour and offering articles on recipes and restaurants all celebrating this green as a salad component. I mean let's face it, every foodie, chef driven restaurant  in the city ( especially Brooklyn) has two things on the menu, Pork Belly in some form, and a Kale salad.

So about two years ago I became interested in Kale salad. Even my favorite chain restaurant Hillstone   ( aka. Houston's in some places) got into the act and put a Kale salad on their menu. So I started with other folks Kale salads when I wanted to make mine. I had seen several dining out and also at work ( I work for a caterer) and then came up with my first version. And I have to say it's rich and it's really good. It's all in the very different ingredient mix and dressing.

So when I posted my original Kale Salad recipe it was picked up on the net by two different people. One person Pinned it on their page which drew attention to it. And another blogger and life coach Dawn Greaney it up, actually tried it and then put it up on her blog for folks to see! That was kinda cool. I mean sometimes it does feel like I am writing all these things to an audience I never see or talk to or even know exists. So feedback like that is really awesome.

So I told Dawn at the time that I would be working up another kale salad recipe and this is it. This one unlike the other recipe bears no resemblance to the Houston's or Hillstone Kale salad. And while the other one is similar I cannot say it is actually the same recipe or even came from there. This recipe is similar to the first ( showing my love of parmesan cheese) but way, way, way more savory and meaty. I mean it is a mouthful of lovely flavors. It is sort of a caesar salad and sort of not. It's base is a caesar-like flavor profile but when mixed with the mushrooms and kale it is really not a caesar.

So since the dressing as I have said is the most important thing I started there in making this salad. Last time I used my love of peanuts and cheese to flavor the salad. And as dressings for Kale salads go I have noticed many chefs mine at work included had a based their dressing on some version of lemon vinaigrette. I wanted something more rounded and fatty. So I chose roasted garlic and Dijon as the answer.

I added mushrooms because I saw it on a Kale salad at work as a garnish. But then I thought of using them to replace any meat that one might add to a salad and give it real body. By adding them in quantity it really changes the salad.

Everything else is from my love of caesar salads as an entree salad. I mean in my mind caesar is hard to beat. It's rich and crunchy and cheesy and delish!

So here is my unoriginal original Kale salad with my touch. I hope someone actually makes this one too and gets back to me. Enjoy Ya'll!

Kale Salad with Pan Roasted Mushrooms, Red Onion and Garlicky Parmesan Mustard Dressing


1 bag or small bunch of chopped Tuscan Kale stems removed then chopped into ribbons or small pieces
10 oz baby bella sliced mushrooms (sauted with very little oil in a hot pan till lightly browned but not over cooked)
1/2 a package Trader Joe's Parmesan Bread crisps crushed ( or any parmesan bread crisps crushed if you want to make this salad gluten free substitute slivered almonds for bread crumbs)
1/2 small red onion diced finely
1/2 cup grated or freshly shredded parmesan cheese ( reserve a few tablespoons for garnish)

1 cup ( or a little less) Garlicky Dressing ( recipe follows )


Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss making sure that salad is dressed liberally
Wait 20 mins before serving
garnish with extra cheese

Garlicky Parmesan Mustard Dressing

4 Anchovies
3 heaping tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice ( I used the green bottle shame on me )
2 tablespoon Apple cider  vinegar
1 cup grated parmesan cheese from the refrigerator case ( it processes better)
1 small head or about 8 large cloves roasted garlic ( easy: Garlic cloves baked in oil in the oven in a small ramekin for about an hour at 300 till brown sweet and soft)
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of good olive oil


In a food processor add everything but the oil and pulse till combined
Then add oil little by little with the machine running till the dressing comes together and you get a thick yellow dressing you may not use all the oil. Done! Will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

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