Have you ever ordered something in a restaurant and swooned with every delicious mouthful? And then wondered how they made it so delicious, even long after the meal was over. I bet that you have experienced this feeling, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t over a salad. Now I like salad just fine, but I’m not one to get excited about them, normally that is. But then I ordered the ‘Cavolo Nero’ salad at Gusto 101 and lost it. I ate that salad so hard, with the gusto (sorry couldn’t resist) that I typically reserve for cupcakes or french fries.
The texture of the dark green bumpy leaves of raw lacinate kale (aka cavolo nero, Tuscan kale, or lacinato kale) becomes silky and velvety after marinating in the lemon vingarette, which softens the leaves. The currants add a lovely sweetness that goes perfectly with the saltiness of the parmesan shavings. Gusto 101 served the salad with pine nuts, but I’ve swapped them for sunflower seeds, perfect for those with nut allergies. I knew I nailed the recipe when D and I had this salad for dinner and it got gobbled up way before the perfectly juicy pan-roasted chicken and fingerling potatoes sharing the same plate. Buon appetito.
Tuscan Kale Salad with Currents and Parmesan (adapted from Epicurious)
Serves 4 as a starter or side
- 2 Tablespoons dried currants
- 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch lacinate kale, centre ribs and stems removed, washed and dried (about 1 pound)
- 2 Tablespoons sunflower seeds
- Parmesan cheese shavings
- Place currants in small bowl and cover with two tablespoons white wine vinegar. Set aside.
- Lay several leaves of kale on top of each other and cut thinly crosswise. Add to a large bowl.
- Make vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine one teaspoon white wine vinegar, lemon rind, lemon juice, honey, olive oil and salt, and whisk. Add vinaigrette, sunflower seeds, and currents, including any additional vinegar left over from soaking, to the kale and toss to combine. Let marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally. Sprinkle with cheese shavings and serve.
Recipe note: for vegan version, use agave nectar instead of honey and omit parmesan.