Crunchy Kale Salad

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I recently bought myself Andy Baraghani’s book, The Cook You Want to Be, and my meal plan has been packed with his recipes ever since. His writing is hilarious and the recipes themselves unabashedly call for tons of good fats which, of course, results in fantastic flavors (his tahini ranch recipe is a game changer). My mom cloistered herself with the book in our chair one evening while the rest of us played a board game, and we would often hear “ha!” and other exclamations of delight. At one point she slammed the book into her lap, looked sternly at me over the top of her glasses, and said, “I think he’s my son.” So yeah, you might say his recipes and writing resonate with us.

This salad is my adapted version of one of his recipes. The original is amazing, and by all means try it out to see which you prefer, but mine is a little lighter and a bit easier to eat a lot of (which is the end goal, obviously). You’re essentially making kale chips that then go on top of the salad, but the crunch doesn’t stop there: panko breadcrumbs, enriched with anchovies, plus roasted almonds bring the crunch factor to another level. If you’re looking for even more texture (and more bread—I approve), add some sourdough breadcrumbs using the method from this recipe.

Crunchy Kale Salad

Serves 4-6 / adapted from Andy Baraghani’s book, The Cook You Want to Be

2 bunches dino (lacinato) kale
about 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 anchovies packed in oil
3 tbsp olive oil

for the vinaigrette:
1 garlic clove, mashed in a mortar and pestle or grated
3 tbsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

1/2 cup roasted almonds
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the stems from half of one bunch of kale, chop or tear the stemmed leaves into large chunks, rinse (I love to use a salad spinner), and dry thoroughly. Toss on a large baking sheet with 2 tbsp olive oil, a small sprinkle of salt, and some freshly cracked black pepper. Spread into an even layer across the baking sheet, then scatter the 1/3 cup grated parmesan evenly across the kale. Grate more cheese on top if any pieces of kale aren’t coated with parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes, flip the kale, then bake another 2-5 minutes, until the kale is crisp. Set aside to cool.

While the kale cooks, make the breadcrumbs. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, drop in the 3 drained anchovies. Stir until the anchovies are little more than specks in the oil (this takes less than a minute, usually). Add the 1 cup panko breadcrumbs and stir. Keep stirring often until the breadcrumbs are nicely browned and toasty, about 3 minutes or so. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and set aside to cool. (This makes double what you’ll likely need for this salad, but save the rest in a covered container in the fridge for a week or so—top any other salad or veggie with it, or sprinkle on top of a pasta dish.)

Make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl, whisk the 1 garlic clove (mashed in a mortar and pestle or grated), 3 tbsp dijon mustard, 3 tbsp red wine vinegar, zest of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, a couple pinches of salt, and several cracks of black pepper until homogenous. Taste and add acid, salt, or pepper as needed. (This makes double what you’ll likely need for this salad, but save the rest in a covered container in the fridge for a week or so. Use it on another salad, as a topping for roasted veggies, or on baked chicken.)

Remove the stems from the rest of the kale and slice into 1/4-inch thick ribbons. Wash and dry thoroughly and place in a large salad bowl. Drizzle the kale with 1/4 of the vinaigrette and scrunch it in with your hands until evenly coated (scrunching tenderizes the kale). Top with the 1/3 cup chopped almonds, baked parmesan kale, another 1/4 of the vinaigrette, and 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs. Toss, and ask yourself: does it need more dressing, breadcrumbs, almonds? You want it to be tangy and super crunchy. Enjoy!

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