Archive for the ‘Fall salad’ Category

Brussels sprouts and pecorino salad

6 December 2013

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I nearly didn’t make this salad for Thanksgiving.

With Sam Sifton’s peremptory Thanksgiving book still ringing in my ears, I did, in fact, briefly debate the pros and cons of his strict no-salad rule. Might it diminish the lusciousness of the meal? Is it the last thing anyone wants to see on a festive table? On the other hand, this barely counts as salad. Surely by salad, Sifton means lettuce?

As it turned out, this deceptively simple dish of raw Brussels sprouts and fresh pecorino, both finely shaved and tossed with a simple dressing, was — again — undoubtedly one of the favorites of the table. On the contrary, what a welcome bounce on the palate between forkfuls of turkey and chestnut stuffing.

This dish wasn’t born as a Thanksgiving side, and shouldn’t die as one. It is a salad for any occasion. I first encountered something similar quite some years ago in the lunch bar up the block from our office in Soho. That version had walnuts, and though adding nuts would be overkill on Thanksgiving, they marry perfectly.

This is barely a recipe, just a few very good ingredients tossed together. It must be made a few hours ahead, so the dressing has time to soften the Brussels sprouts. There should be enough pecorino for a shaving or two in each mouthful.

Very fresh Brussels sprouts, preferably still on the stem because snapping them off is a fun occupation for children on Thanksgiving morning

Pecorino, not too aged

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sherry or good wine vinegar

Best olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly hulled walnuts (optional)

Trim and remove one or two outer leaves of each Brussels sprout, then shave them finely with a mandolin or a sharp knife and lots of patience.

Cut the pecorino into paper thin shavings.

The salad is very thirsty and will soak up the dressing, so plan generously, but the proportions are roughly: 5 lemon juice plus 1 vinegar to 8 olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper. Taste the salad and adjust dressing/seasoning as necessary.

Simply kale salad

8 November 2010

Now is the time to eat kale salad, when the first bites of frost have rendered the leaves mild and sweet. As winter settles in kale will become more flavorful but also tougher – perfect for soups. Since I first ate kale salad a few years ago, I’ve been looking out for perfect tender kale to recreate it at home but always seemed to miss the season. I’ve finally caught the right time and decided to make a salad that best respects the essence of raw kale.

Since this salad is all about the kale, it’s not worth making unless the leaves are perfect. I prefer to use a less curly but rather crinkly variety, such as lacinato or rainbow lacinato kale. The leaves should be visibly tender – the best test is to break off a tiny piece and taste it right then and there at the market.

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Sweet and tender, first-frost-bitten lacinato or rainbow lacinato kale leaves

Best olive oil

Lemon

Maldon (or other flaky) sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Parmigiano reggiano cheese*

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Wash kale in cold water and spin or pat dry. Remove tougher part of the stem (fold leaf in half and cut off its thick “spine”). Cut leaves into tagliatelle-thin strips and place them in a bowl. Dress the kale with a generous dash of olive oil, freshly-squeezed lemon juice, a pinch or two of salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss well to coat the kale and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Place dressed salad on plate and grate parmigiano on top just before serving.

* I made this salad with parmigiano because I always have some at home, however I think it would be just as good (perhaps better, even) with pecorino or coarsely grated ricotta salata.


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