Because it’s Friday, and because I love you, and because there is a certain sporting event that will take place on Sunday that mandates drinking beer and eating heathenly things like wings covered in butter with a dash of hot sauce and cheese-y/guacamole-y/sour cream-y/refried bean-y concoctions guaranteed to add 7 layers to – ahem – places other than just dips (hips?!), I present to you….
The kale caesar salad.
Ok, ok I know…..kale is having a ‘moment’ of sorts; it was seemingly omnipresent in 2013, made into chips, liquified into juices, made into brownies….
I’m sorry but that’s just taking it too far.
I have to disagree with anyone (and, well, everyone) who is heralding kale as the veggie fad of 2013. Sure it did get lots of press last year, and I have to admit that even the most basic supermarkets seem to be stocking at least 3 varieties of the stuff, but if you’ve ever poked your head into a farmer’s market or have had a continuing love affair with people like Heidi, Sara, or Mollie, then you’re well aware that the leafy dark green is anything but a fad.
Inexpensive, filling, and much more satisfying than the watery crunch of a boring head of plain-old-lettuce, kale is a stalwart – not a fad. Plus, it’s dead easy to grow in your home garden, and perseveres (even thrives!) with just the tiniest bit of encouragement. A denizen of healthy cooks’ kitchens everywhere, sure; but all that positive press has thrust kale up onto a soapbox (not unlike quinoa), and I fear we are on the brink of kale overload.
But I digress. As it so happens – I think it’s really tasty. I’ve had a long standing love affair with Caesar salad, but as I’ve lamented before (and, wow, three years ago!) , I rarely ever order one, as in my experiences finding a great Caesar is about as easy as refraining from the snack table on Super Bowl Sunday.
The key is the dressing: one that is flavorful and packs a punch but is not overly gloppy or creates a limp mess of sad romaine. That’s where this recipe is different; instead of romaine, hearty leaves of torn kale are tossed with a homemade dressing made simply with egg yolk, anchovies, garlic, dijon mustard lemon zest and juice, and extra virgin olive oil. The dressing is robust enough to stand up to the kale, and by dressing the leaves 15 minutes before you plan to eat them, everything has a chance to marry and soften up a bit. Instead of croutons, toasted panko with fresh parsley adds texture and crunch, and nutty shavings of parmesan cheese are feathered over the top. The salad is then tossed with rounds of crunchy radish and flakes of tuna that have been packed in olive oil, which echo and compliment the briny notes of the dressing and pack a healthy punch of protein and help create a stick-to-your-ribs lunch that, quite frankly, will do anything but.
Fill your plate up three quarters with this salad, and then you can feel good about leaving that final wedge of real estate open for those chicken wings. And that dip. Who can pass up dip?!
PS: It’s downright embarrassing how many times I had to reference the proper spelling of ‘Caesar’. That is all.
Kale Caesar Salad with Olive Oil Tuna and Toasted Panko
Makes one large salad, enough for 2/4 people (meal/side dish)
On kale: I used some purple baby kale I found at the farmer’s market for this salad, but I also like Dino (aka Tuscan, or Black) and curly green kale, in that order. Remove any really tough ribs from the kale before using it, and remember that the smaller the bits you tear it into, the less tough it will be. Make sure to wash it really well, as little teeny tiny aphids love kale and often are hiding up in the leaves (especially if yours is organic). They won’t hurt you though, and I have accidentally ingested many of them in my years without incident.
If you are scared to use raw egg you can sub in 1 Tbsp of store bought mayo. However if you buy really good fresh eggs, you should’t have a problem.
You can usually find tuna packed in olive oil with the regular tuna; it is the absolute best for cooking & eating, and does not require the normal dose of mayo to make it moist and flavorful.
1 lb kale leaves, torn into bite sized pieces
5 radishes, scrubbed and topped and cut into thin rounds
1 5oz can tuna packed in olive oil, well drained
1/2 cup panko
1 Tbsp butter
1 small handful parsley leaves and stems, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
fresh cracked pepper
1 egg yolk
1 clove garlic
1 tsp dijon mustard
zest and juice of one lemon
~1/2 cup olive oil
First, make the dressing. In the bowl of a mini food processor or using the back of a wooden spoon in a large bowl, mince and mash the garlic and anchovies with a bit of salt till they are in a fine paste. Add in the egg yolk, zest, juice, and dijon, and process or stir till the mixture is well pureed and combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil (pulsing in between additions a few drops at a time if you’re using a processor), and stir/process until you have a creamy but thick dressing. You may or may not need all of the olive oil; keep tasting till it is to your liking.
Heat the butter in a skillet over medium high heat, and toast the panko with a good pinch of salt and pepper till it is golden brown. Remove, and stir in the chopped parsley.
Place the kale and sliced radishes into a large mixing bowl. Flake the tuna into the bowl using a fork, and pour 1/2 of the dressing over the top. Toss the mixture well to combine; continue adding dressing until the salad is dressed to your liking (you may or may not use all of it). Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes, to help marinate the kale leaves. Heap the salad onto plates, and sprinkle the top of each portion with the toasted panko crumbs and a healthy dusting of parmesan cheese.