Earlier this year, we found ourselves with visitors weekend after weekend, and so, to keep things simple, I found myself making the same things over an over again: often my favorite lentil soup, often chicken with parmesan and white wine, and always this kale salad.
It’s simple: thinly sliced Tuscan kale + grated Parmigiano Reggiano + shallot vinaigrette. Until recently, I had never thought to dress kale with a shallot vinaigrette, always favoring something bolder or creamier, reasoning that kale’s tough leaves needed something more assertive. It turns out they don’t. When the ribs are removed from the leaves, and when the leaves are slivered, the pieces feel like confetti, light and tender. No massaging required.
If I have a hunk of days-old bread on hand, I’ll whizz it in the food processor, toast up the crumbs in olive oil, and add them to the mix, but often I leave them out.
Over the weekend, for a dear friend’s 40th birthday party, I made an enormous kale salad (no bread crumbs), a double batch of lentil soup, and many loaves of bread. Because I was making such a large quantity of everything, I pulled out the food processor to grate the cheese, then to mince the shallots for the dressing. It worked like a charm. Yesterday, for a potluck at my kids’ preschool, I did the same thing, using the processor one more time for the crumbs. You absolutely do not need to use a food processor to make this salad, but should you find yourself making it for a crowd, it’s really handy. I’ve included the quantities for both a large and small batch of shallot vinaigrette in the recipe.
Here’s a visual play-by-play. Gather your Tuscan kale.
Remove the stems:
Gather your days-old bread, if making crumbs. This is the overnight focaccia. I used about half of one round for a very large salad.
Tear the bread into pieces and throw them in the food processor:
Whizz into crumbs:
Toast the crumbs in olive oil and season with salt:
Don’t wash the processor! Give it a wipe, switch in the grating attachment, and send hunks of parmesan down the food chute:
Ta da! And again, don’t wash the food processor! Give it a wipe …
and get going on the dressing:
Peel the shallots:
Throw them in the food processor:
And whizz until fine. It’s now safe to wash your food processor. (You can also do this, of course, without a food processor.)
Soak the shallots in white balsamic vinegar for at least 15 minutes.
Whisk in the olive oil.
Gather your components: kale, parmesan, toasty crumbs, and shallot vinaigrette:
Toss and serve!
Here are the essential elements to my favorite kale salad:
- Tuscan kale, stems removed, leaves finely chopped. No need to massage.
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Shallot Vinaigrette. See notes below if you’d like to make a small batch.
- Optional: olive oil toasted bread crumbs
If you plan on using the food processor, as outlined above in the photos, this should be your order: bread crumbs, cheese, shallots, wiping with a tea towel between each use. Once the shallots are puréed and macerating in the vinegar, it’s safe to give the processor a rinse and tuck it away.
You absolutely do not need to use a food processor to make this salad. I’ve had two occasions this week that called for making an enormous salad, and so I found the food processor to be so handy. Entertaining or not, however, it’s so nice having a large batch of vinaigrette on hand. It will keep for weeks in your fridge.
for the toasted bread crumbs (totally optional):
- a large hunk of bread, to yield 1.5 to 2 cups lightly packed fresh crumbs, see notes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
for the large-batch shallot vinaigrette:
- 3 to 4 shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup white balsamic vinegar, my preference is Colavita
- 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil, my preference is California Olive Ranch
- Tuscan kale, however many heads you need, stems removed, leaves finely chopped
- grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- toasted bread crumbs, optional
- shallot vinaigrette to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
If you are using a food processor, this should be your order: crumbs, cheese, shallots:
- To make the crumbs: Place day-old bread in the food processor and purée until fine. Measure out 1.5 to 2 cups of crumbs. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the crumbs and the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crumbs are golden brown. This could take 5 to 15 minutes (or longer) depending on your heat level. If you have the time, go slowly to prevent burning. When the crumbs are nice and golden, turn off the heat. Let cool briefly. Taste. Add more salt if necessary.
- To grate the cheese: Wipe out the processor, switch to the grating attachment, and pass hunks of cheese through the food chute.
- To make the shallot vinaigrette: Wipe out the processor. Place the shallots in the food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. Transfer shallots to medium bowl or 1-qt liquid measure. Cover with the balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Let stand for at least 15 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil slowly. Taste, adding more salt by the 1/2 teaspoon to taste. I always use 2 teaspoons. Vinaigrette will keep for weeks in the fridge.
- To assemble the salad: Place the finely chopped leaves in a large bowl. Top with however many toasted bread crumbs you would like. Top with however much cheese you would like. Give your vinaigrette a stir, then pour some of it over your greens. Give the salad a toss. Taste. Add more dressing if you wish. Add pepper to taste, if you wish, too.
If you are making a small batch of shallot dressing, use these quantities:
- 1/4 cup finely minced shallots
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, I like Colavita brand
- 2 pinches salt
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil