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A Taste of Sunshine: Kale and Citrus Salad

2010 January 27

Sure, I loves me some proper Southern-style greens. But the weather rollercoaster we have been riding in the D.C. area — 60-something, the threat of snow and then back to the mid-50s, maybe snow this weekend — got me longing for spring. Or at least something fresher, crunchier, brighter than collards cooked all day.

Luckily both kale and citrus are in season, making it possible to curb my craving, still eat healthy (leafy greens are so good for you and on The Kitchenette list of “things we should be eating according to Alton Brown”) and stick to foods that are in season. Yay!

Dinosaur kale (aka Cavolo nero, black cabbage, black kale, Tuscan Kale or Lacinato) is a little lighter and more peppery than some kales, but the regular curly kind works fine. The citrus not only brings a little taste of sunshine to the dish, the acid in the dressing “cooks” the kale a little while it sits. The feta is optional, but I think that little dash of creamy tang really ties it all together.

Winter Kale and Citrus Salad
Serves 2

1/2 lb. black kale
2 small blood oranges
zest and juice of 1/2 a Myer lemon (regular lemons will do in a pinch)
1 shallot, minced fine
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper (to taste)
small block feta cheese, cubed (for garnish, to taste)

Supreme (segment) the oranges, working over a large bowl to catch the juice (it should amount to a couple of tablespoons. Squeeze the juice out of the leftover pulpy bits if necessary).

To the blood orange juice, add the lemon juice, zest, shallots, salt, pepper and olive oil. Whisk until emulsified; it will be rosy and shiny.

Wash kale and pat off excess water. If the center stems seem tender enough to eat, just trim off the bottom couple of inches; if they seem tough, cut them out with a paring knife and discard. Stack, roll, and cut the kale into 1/4-inch ribbons.

Add the kale to the dressing, tossing by hand to kind of rub the dressing into the leaves a little bit. Scatter the orange segments on top.

Let stand for 20 minutes or so before serving (and/or while you throw together a chicken or other protein dish to go along with it. At The Kitchenette, we had it with a Perisan-inspired baked chicken dish, more on that later…). Garnish with the feta immediately before serving.

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