4.14.15 Salad Days

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photos by gluttonforlife

I cut my thumb last week. Quite badly, actually. With a mandoline. Of course. Not the fancy French mandoline that I retired 20 years ago after I sliced into all of my right fingertips. (Legendary pain.) A new lightweight, handheld variety that was a gift. My friend raved about its user-friendly qualities. So, for the second time in 20 years, I tried a mandoline. This time, for no reason that is clear to me, I didn't employ the little hand guard that comes with it. I'll be super careful, I said to myself. Talk about being green in judgment. Just three slices of radish later, and part of my thumb lay on the cutting board. The rest was all blood. There were no stitches involved because there was nothing to stitch together; it was a clean slice. And that radish salad? Never mind. Try this one instead. Just when you thought you were done with kale salads, it will make you think again.

 

And I've also got the three randomly chosen winners of the Bergdorf Goodman Cookbook (my bandaged thumb looked so chic as I signed books at the launch party): CHRISTINE, LICIA and IAN! I'll email you to get your info. Congrats and I hope you have fun with this little book.

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under the dome

Spring finally came today. 73 degrees! I flung open the windows and filled my lungs: the smell of damp rot has given way to the scent of promise. A butterfly fluttered by. There are buds on the lilac and birds on the nest. It's all so exciting. The first responders are poking up: mint, angelica, rhubarb and those funky little Japanese butterburs. But still no asparagus, and our own greens won't be ready for many weeks. So I was grateful to find this tender greenhouse-grown kale at our farmers market last weekend.

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brain food

After rummaging around in the fridge and pantry, I came up with a rather intriguing combination that really works. I don't like wimpy, underdressed salads. I'm partial to bold, bright flavors and kale can stand up to a lot. Don't be afraid to really craft your salads. They need intrigue and surprise and a hint of decadence. This one gets a blitz of toasted, very finely chopped walnuts for an almost unctuous richness. 

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funky dresser

For the dressing, I used a few tablespoons of pureed kimchi I had lying about. If you don't want to make your own kimchi, there are plenty of good quality suppliers out there these days. Blend some in the food processor or Vitamix and use it on a grilled cheese sandwich or tossed with apples in this sublime dish. Here, I mixed it with a little mayo to offset its pungency and it became a dressing that is, as April Bloomfield likes to say, "moreish." You can't help coming back for more. 

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greens keeper

And that's basically it. The kale, sliced into thin ribbons. The walnuts, toasted and finely chopped. The dressing, whisked together in a trice. And not a mandoline in sight.

 

Kale Salad with Kimchi Dressing

serves 1 as a main course
  • — 3 cups (packed) kale, tough ribs removed
  • — 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
  • — 1 tablespoon lightly toasted sesame seeds
  • — 3 tablespoons pureed kimchi
  • — 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, preferably Kewpie
  • — 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • — 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • — 2 generous pinches sea salt
  • — 1 pinch piment d'Espelette

Slice kale into thin ribbons. Place in a large bowl along with the walnuts and sesame seeds.

In a small bowl, whisk together kimchi, mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, sea salt and piment d'Espelette.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well, making sure every leaf is covered.

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7 Comments

SO happy to hear that spring has finally made its way to you! I can release the guilt I feel every March of talking about warm days and wild forays while my New England kin are still buried in snow. And this salad looks divine. I need to get bolder with my dressings. Thank you for the inspiration~
Prairie on April 14, 2015 at 3:10 am — Reply
Who could begrudge anyone spring?!
laura on April 16, 2015 at 7:11 am — Reply
Mmmmmm! And so sorry about your poor thumb :( . I share your apprehension about mandolines. Terrifying things. So happy for you and the cookbook success! Can't wait to make this salad and raise a glass to you! xo
Pritha on April 15, 2015 at 7:58 pm — Reply
Thanks, Pritha! xo
laura on April 16, 2015 at 7:11 am — Reply
Just reading about your thumb makes me cringe. I know it's well on the mend by now, but yikes. I have never bought a mandoline for this reason. This salad, on the other hand, sounds amazing. Spring!
Julia on April 30, 2015 at 6:30 pm — Reply
I fear my thumb is forever changed. Spring!
laura on April 30, 2015 at 6:33 pm — Reply
Yummy...dreaming of a Vitamix...the little things to make life easier. Sorry about your digit...something I will not invest in...I'll take my time withe the knife.
thefolia on February 20, 2016 at 9:39 pm — Reply