Classic American recipes can truly serve as a vehicle for moving into and expanding our comfort zone as cooks. For example, Deviled Eggs teach us how to make hard-boiled eggs, and Italian Meatballs with Spaghetti teach us to work with ground beef and set the foundation for making Hamburgers (and vice versa). Of course, you know I never believe a comfort dish should be unsurprising or unhealthy, but on the contrary, freshened up with a personal twist and seasonal, nutritious ingredients!
The more we cook, the more confident we become in leaving our mark on a time-honored staple, like this Pumpkin Mac n’ Cheese with Sage Caramelized Apples and Onions. Practice makes perfect, as we get more familiar with ingredient additions, substitutions and other creative variations. I’m a strong believer in refreshing classic comfort food with the best-tasting ingredients. These are almost always seasonal and regional, showing off ultimate freshness and ripe nutrition, and representing the flavors of the local terroir. Lucky for us, seasonal offerings are also the most abundant and thus, the most affordable!
This Kale Caesar Salad is a perfect example. Kale is a hearty, nutritious green that is thankfully abundant in the winter. Certainly more so than Romaine lettuce. In fact, I often find that the dressing is the only element of a Caesar salad to perk my taste buds. The kale has it’s own personality, with a deep, earthy taste, and a filling texture that is beautiful when coated with a homemade Caesar dressing – my taste buds DANCE. Plus, you get to make this dish with your hands – the best utensils!
For pan-roasted potatoes, begin by boiling your potatoes until slightly crispy but nearly done (test with a fork). Slice the potatoes into thin slivers. In a large cast iron skillet or frying pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, butter or lard. Add the potatoes and sear on each side until crispy and browned.

Kale Caesar Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1/2 cup

For extra crunch and texture, I like to add toasted nuts or pan-roasted potatoes to my Kale Caesar Salad. A hard boiled egg, a handful of raisins or cranberries, and any other veggies would also brighten this dish. Make it yours!

Ingredients

  • Anchovy - 3 filets
  • Egg yolk - 1
  • Parmesan cheese - 3 tablespoons, grated
  • Dijon mustard - 1 tablespoon
  • Lemon juice - 2 tablespoons
  • Garlic - 2 cloves
  • Sea salt - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Olive oil - 1/3 cup
  • Black pepper - Freshly ground to taste
  • Kale - 1 bunch

Instructions

  1. Add the anchovy filets, egg yolk, Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and 1 clove of garlic to a blender. Puree the dressing until the anchovies are dissolved.
  2. While continuing to puree, slowly drizzle 1/3 cup of olive oil into the blender to thicken the dressing and create a smooth consistency.
  3. At this point, stop the blender and taste the dressing. Does it need more punch of garlic? If so, add another clove. Does it need to be a bit brighter and more acidic? If so, add more lemon juice. Is it too strong? Add more olive oil to soften and blend the flavors. Adding more olive oil will also increase the volume.
  4. Last, taste for salt. Anchovies are very salty and garlic is notorious for inducing thirst. Add salt if needed. Add a few generous turns of the pepper mill. Puree one last time.
  5. Transfer the Caesar dressing to a small container and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  6. * Note: because Caesar dressing as raw eggs, it is best to use within 1-3 days, and always tastes better fresh.
  7. Rinse and pat dry the kale and cut it into slivers. Add the kale to a bowl.
  8. Add half the Caesar dressing to the kale and use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. This will break down the hearty fibers in the kale, making it more digestible raw and a softer texture to chew.

Notes

Allergens: eggs, fish

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