Raw Kale salad with hazelnuts, apple and Parmesan cheese
During a recent visit to Square Peg Farm in the Tualatin Valley just west of Portland, I walked out to the fields with Amy Benson, one half of the Square Peg husband-and-wife/owner/farmer team, to harvest kale for this recipe. Kale is one of the few crops that thrives in cold weather, remaining as abundant throughout the season as the photo above displays. Amy commented that the kale was finally sweet, which is not a word that readily or typically comes to mind when describing kale. The sweetness develops and increases after a good frost, which assists in boosting the sugar content of certain fruits and vegetables including squash, persimmon, quince, and hardy greens, such as chard and kale.
Given this noticeable difference in flavor, I thought it made sense to use the kale raw, in a salad, rather than to cook it. I've prepared it this way many times, in combination with various other ingredients, always making fans happy, but leaving others skeptical of the bumpy, dark green leaves. I prefer Lacinato kale (sometimes called dinosaur kale) for raw preparations.
The kale is dressed with a vinaigrette and left to sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes of more, during which time the stiff leaves soften. Finish the salad with bits of apple, Parmesan cheese and hazelnuts just before serving.
Make 4 servings or 1 large family-style platter
1 large bunch (16 to 18 leaves) Lacinado kale, washed, ribs removed and cut into thin ribbons or threads
Hazelnut vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 firm sweet apple, such as Macintosh, Braeburn or Gala., peeled, cored and cut into matchsticks.
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup coarsely cracked toasted hazelnuts
Dress the kale with most of the vinaigrette, holding back a little to finish the salad. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper., cover lightly and leave in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The kale will soften as it sits; longer than 30 minutes is perfectly fine.
Remove the bowl from the refrigerator, add the apples, half of the cheese, and more dressing if desired. Toss the ingredients together and taste to see if more salt and or pepper is needed. To serve, divide between 4 plates, or place on a platter and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the hazelnuts.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup hazelnut oil
2 tablespoons Riesling or other sweet white wine vinaigrette
1-tablespoon grain mustard
Juice and zest of one orange
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the oils, vinegar, mustard, orange zest and juice in a jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until well blended and season to taste with salt and pepper. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator.