Earlier this summer, my mom introduced raw kale salad into her rotation of quick veggies to go alongside the requisite salmon with green sauce. The recipe was courtesy of my parents’ friend Monina who made it for a dinner party she hosted on Martha’s Vineyard, and was responsible for my dad actually requesting kale for dinner on the following night. My mom has made it in the double digits since.
It’s rare to find a green salad that can be dressed in advance and won’t get soggy (we usually turn to grains for this type of portability). But the raw, lemon-dressed kale tastes better the longer it sits, which makes it a perfect make-ahead dinner party side dish, or source of intentional leftovers for lunch the next day. When you first taste it, you might think that it’s too lemony–the proportions are a lot heavier on the acid than a regular salad dressing. But try it again after it sits for a little while and you’ll find that the whole flavor profile has mellowed, and the kale has become soft and tender.
Monina’s original recipe used pinenuts, but we’ve tried it with raw pecans, cashews, and slivered almonds, and each nut has added its own personality to the dish. Adding roasted mushrooms was my fall twist, but if you’re looking for simplicity, stick with just the kale, and have fun playing around with the combinations. As with any great dish from our mothers’ kitchens, this recipe is classic enough to be served as is, and versatile enough to welcome a few updates when creativity strikes, or resources are scarce.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Lemony Kale and Roasted Mushroom Salad with Pecans
Makes 6 servings
This recipe is great to make ahead, and it’s a perfect portable potluck contribution!
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms (cremini, shitake, portabello)
¼ cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, pushed through a press or finely minced
1 pound red Russian kale
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Clean the mushroom caps and trim the stems. Cut them into ½ inch pieces, place them in a large cast iron skillet or baking dish lined with foil, and toss them with a glug of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, redistributing halfway through the cooking process.
Remove the thick stalks from the kale leaves. On a cutting board, stack the leaves one on top of the other, and roll them up into a cigar (much like you would to julienne basil), and slice it into thin ribbons.
Add the mushrooms to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon juice, oil, salt, cayenne, and garlic. Add the kale and half the pecans and toss until the leaves are well coated in the mushroom mixture. Let sit for an hour or so, tossing occasionally. Top with the remaining nuts, taste for seasoning, and serve.