Pecorino, Lemon, + Garlic Kale
by Libby Jennison
There is magic in this recipe. No, really. There is! There is magic in the dressing, as it seems everything it touches turns into something extra special, and there is magic in the kale, because kale is the modern beacon for nutrient dense eating.
And with good reason– kale offers you an abundance of vitamins and minerals (check out the link for a favorite website on the nutrition of different foods, ORAC, and ANDI ratings), and it will offer you its nature, which is sattvic and pure.
What I love about this trend– this love of kale– is that it has encouraged Americans to embrace bitter again. An oft neglected taste that sends signals to the stomach and liver to churn out bile, bitter is supreme when it comes to more digestive harmony. You can take advantage of this physiological charm by making sure you are eating well rounded meals that incorporate bitter tastes. Another great way is by taking digestive bitters. Angelica, gentian, and artichoke leaf are all classic bitter herbs and can be found in many classic digestive formulas, but there are many different variations and every herbalist has their favorite. Ultimately it is a personal preference. But taking a teaspoon or so thirty minutes before a meal can truly help in the digestion (and further assimilation!) of your meal, specifically in breaking down fats and proteins.
I initially got this recipe from Heidi Swanson over at 101cookbooks.com. Not personally, of course, but from her beautiful blog. I encourage you to stop by and check it out if you haven’t already. It will not disappoint! Sophisticated rustic vegetarian inspiration for days! And for those of you who aren’t vegetarians, do not be deterred. I have found inspiration on her pages throughout all of my eating trends. Her message is simply whole food.
The original recipe was plucked from Melissa Clark’s cookbook In A Kitchen With A Good Appetite (Heidi’s write up is here), and is a glorious kale salad. This is a salad I have made countless times and almost every single person I have made this for asks for the recipe. It is just that good. The lemon is rounded out by the salty pecorino and pungent garlic, and good olive oil here really shines.
The lemon macerates the kale, penetrating the cell walls a bit, making it both easier to chew and more easily digested. (That last link there was for my Aunt Cal, who became rather tickled with my use of this word.)
While I love this salad, heart and soul, I wasn’t looking for cold today. Albeit the day’s blue sky and window opening opportunity, North Florida has had a string of thunderstorms and cold weather. A cold salad didn’t feel right. So I opted to slightly steam the kale– more of a wilt than a steam, really. I wilted it in a kiss of olive oil and a glug of water, and then dressed it once in my bowl. Alongside a sweet potato, lunch was served.
1-2 bunches of dinosaur kale (depending on the size of the leaves)
2 cloves of garlic, lazy minced
1/4- 1/2 c pecorino cheese, sub parmesan if its on hand
2 T cold-pressed olive oil
Begin by ripping the leaves away from their ribs and placing the torn pieces in your sauté pan. Add a glug of water and a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan. This will help get the steaming going, and keep the kale from scorching on the bottom of the pan.
Before beginning the kale, return to your cutting board to prepare the dressing. In a bowl, combine the garlic, the pecorino, the juice of the lemon, and the remaining 1 T of olive oil.
Then on high heat, allow the kale to cook, covered, for about 1 minute. Turn the heat, then, to medium and allow to cook for another few moments until the kale is just wilted. Take off heat and leave lid OFF the pan. Stir the kale to release the steam.
Put the now wilted kale on top of the dressing and with two spoons, toss the kale until it is sufficiently combined.
I imagine this dressing would be equally delicious on other vegetables, as a flavor profile for a brothy soup, or tossed into a chicken (or tuna?) salad. Sky’s the limit. Let me know if you end up trying this on something else… successes and failures! I can always appreciate a warning!