This. Salad. All I want to eat is this salad. About a year ago, I had a shredded kale salad at one of my favorite restaurants. I’d not had raw kale before; it always seemed too tough and fibrous for that. But for this salad they had sliced the kale into tiny ribbons, doused it in a lemony vinaigrette, and tossed it with toasted nuts and raisins and a generous, generous portion of salty, fluffy cheese. I was in heaven. Yes, it was hearty and fibrous and nodded back to our hunter-gatherer days before we had learned how to tame such tough greens with heat and olive oil. But it was also salty and sweet and crunchy and it hit every savory taste bud I had. Yes, I am one who loves my hearty veg a bit more than your average bear, but regardless, the flavors played off each other so well that even your most carnivorous hunter-gatherer would love this (pssst, it’s covered in cheese).
Over the course of the last year, I recreated the salad a few times. Usually, I just spritzed the shredded greens with lemon and olive oil, and tossed in one of a variety of toasted nuts—pine nuts, hazelnuts, pecans—and something sweet—raisins, craisins, sultanas—and then parmesaned it up (it’s a new word!). It was always delicious and always satisfying, but in the last couple months, I had forgotten about it.
Then yesterday, I had a variation on the theme that has left me a slave to kale’s ruffly influence. This version, at a little cafe that’s just adorbs, upped the flavor quotient with the use of anchovy dressing and big, tender chunks of anchovies throughout. It topped the salad with aged gouda and crunchy hazelnuts and omg. So good. And so good FOR you! The omega 3s! The antioxidants! The fiber! So good and so addictive. So today, approximately 24 hours later, I decided to recreate it. Sort of.
Honestly, other than anchovies, I had no idea what was in that dressing. It was vaguely creamy, but I think it just may have been a lovely emulsion. It had garlic, certainly, and something spicy, likely just cayenne. Lemon juice, I think. Mustard, maybe. I had just run out of cayenne, so I used a pinch of red pepper flakes instead. I reallyreallyreally wanted those hazelnuts in there, but my freezer stock of nuts was hazelnut-free, as was my grocery store (sigh), so I toasted some almonds instead. For the cheese, I went for grana padano; salty and nutty and strong. Yesterday’s salad stuck strictly to the salty and the savory, but I tossed in some craisins, because I just can’t help myself. I ate it tonight, with some corn pudding that I’ll tell you about later. It wasn’t the exact salad I had just had, but it was delicious and hit all the proper notes. This is all I want to eat, and maybe all I will eat, for the next few weeks. Because I’m the boss of me.
Kale Salad with Anchovy Dressing
Inspired by Northern Spy Food Co. and Five Leaves.
You can use any salty hard cheese you want to use and any nuts. If you can find hazelnuts, try those first.
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
2-3 small garlic cloves, chopped
pinch of red pepper
1 t dijon mustard
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 c olive oil
4 c finely shredded kale (stemmed, then shredded)
1/2 c finely grated Grana Padano or other salty cheese
1/4 c sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 c dried cranberries
4 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
- Combine first 4 ingredients in a mini food processor and pulse until chopped and well combined
- Add the lemon juice and pulse again, then drizzle in the olive oil and process until an emulsion forms.S with salt and black pepper
- In a large bowl, toss the kale with half the dressing until coated, but not drowned, then toss with half the cheese, half the almonds, half the cranberries and all of the chopped anchovies
- Sprinkle the salad with the remainder of the cheese, almonds and cranberries. Drizzle with remaining dressing (only if necessary!) and serve.