Monday, March 15, 2010

At Market...Tuscan Kale

Whether you know it by the name cavolo nero, dinosaur kale, black kale, lacinato kale, or Tuscan kale, I think you'll agree that it is some of the best kale you will ever try. Increasingly common at farmers' markets, you can identify it by its blueish green and wonderfully crinkled leaves. Most kale is too bitter for my taste, and must be cooked to soften both its texture and flavor. But Tuscan kale can be eaten raw, in salad form, and lacks the harshness of many of its cousins. It's also delicious tossed into pastas and when roasted (yes roasted) the leaves become so amazingly crisp and delicious you'd swear you were eating the best potato chip ever, especially when dusted with the tiniest bit of sea salt.

Late last week, on one of those very busy nights where it seemed as if everyone had somewhere else to be, we somehow managed to sneak in a moment of togetherness around the dinner table. On the menu was roasted pork tenderloin, skillet macaroni and cheese (the best!) and Tuscan kale salad. I found the recipe in my new Martha Stewart cookbook, Dinner at Home. I loved it's utter simplicity that allowed the earthy flavors of the kale to shine through, and I'm sure it will make another appearance on our menu sometime very soon.

Shredded Tuscan Kale Salad

This type of kale might also be labeled dinosaur kale, cavolo nero, lacinato kale or black kale at the market, and is prized for its mild, earthy flavor. If you cannot find it, try substituting savoy cabbbage or spinach.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Yield: serves 4


1 bunch Tuscan kale, finely shredded
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus some shaved slices for topping


1. Finely shred kale by stacking the leaves and using a sharp knife to slice them very thinly, in batches if necessary.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, the lemon juice and oil and let stand for 5 minutes.

3. Add the kale and toss to combine thoroughly. Toss with the finely shredded cheese and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Top with shaved parmesan slices and serve immediately.

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