BREADED KALE SALAD w PINE NUTS & SOURED CHERRIES

PREP TIME: 10 COOKING TIME: 20 FEEDS: 4 as a starter or makes a good side salad
VEGAN

We all know ‘kale is having a moment’ but it still has a bit of a reputation for being difficult to cook and hard to like, poor thing. Personally I am not a big raw kale person, for me its wrong on all departments, it’s hard to chew (yes even when left macerating in lemon juice) difficult to swallow (yes even when massaged to soften) and actually if you think about it there is a reason a Zebra’s tummy looks the way it does, BUT this recipe will convert anyone. The secret ingredient is toasted croutons, a cheap trick I know but it works every time!

HOW TO PREPARE KALE

Whether its curly kale, flat leaf kale or tuscan Kale (aka cavalo nero or black kale) kale is easy to prepare. The first rule is to slice or strip the leaves from the rib, the ribs are pretty woody but totally edible, they would need to be cooked separately from the leaves. Wash the leaves and discard any leaves that are wilted, yellow or heaven forbid slimy.

Kale is pretty forgiving in the fridge and can last a good 2 weeks still in a pretty good condition

SERVING SUGGESTIONS 4 as a starter or makes a fantastic side salad.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED 

Food processor and a roasting tin

INGREDIENTS

150g kale, ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
3 sticks celery
3 tablespoon black olive tapenade OR a handful of pitted black olives *
200g sourdough bread * cut into chunks
3 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced *
1 organic lemon, quartered into four wedges *
3 tablespoon pine nuts
3 tablespoons sour cherries (or any other sour dried fruit)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

METHOD

Heat the oven to 200c.
Throw the kale and tapenade into a food processor and pulse to smithereens. Taste and add a little more tapenade if you prefer and pulse again.

CROUTONS: put the bread chunks in a big bowl with the garlic, lemon wedges, pine nuts and sour cherries. Drizzle generously with olive oil and toss with your hands to coat, you are looking for a wettish bread mix. Tip out on to a baking tray (leaving the bowl unwashed) so it sits in a single layer and roast for 10 minutes or until the bread and pine nuts are golden, then check every 5 minutes to make sure nothing is burning. The pine nuts have a tendency to burn!

While the bread is roasting, finely slice the celery and place in the bowl with the kale mixture.

Once the bread is golden, take the tray out of the oven and add everything to the bowl except the lemon wedges. When they are cool enough to handle, squeeze the juice over the salad and drizzle some more olive oil and maybe a few pinches of salt. Mix, mix, mix with your hands until the bread soaks up all the magical juices, taste again and add more lemon juice or salt if needed, grind some pepper and transfer to plates. Finish with another drizzle of olive oil and a roasted lemon slice to each plate. I love eating roasted lemon skins!

TIPS & NOTES from my kitchen:

Use any loaf of bread here for the croutons, I used a spelt loaf that was hanging around from the weekend baking, avoiding sliced supermarket bread.
Mincing garlic is a very important kitchen skill, we are looking for a creamy garlic mixture here and for me, the easiest & quickest way to achieve this is to place skinned garlic cloves into a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt and grind till smooth & a cream coloured paste.
Organic, chemical free lemons is a fantastic option here
You can use any tart dried fruit here, think cranberries or currants

WHERE TO FIND or BUY THE INGREDIENTS

TAPENADE: I like the Klein Nektar one, other brands to try would be pesto princess or the Real Food Company, just check the ingredients for no nasties.

Recipe inspired by the Meerah Sodha