Between cakes

So, have you finished your cake yet? Yes? How about your cake? Good. And, um, your cake?

Here we are, eight days into this NaBloPoMo thing, and all I can say about the experience so far is that, lo, there has been cake. LOTS OF CAKE. Not that anyone's complaining. I'm certainly not. But the name of this game is a post a day, not a pound a day, so we should probably pace ourselves. Or, at least, have something to eat between cakes that's not cake. Wouldn't you know, I have just the thing.

But wait. I regret a little the way I’ve set things up, as though cake, evil cake, is after our waistlines and this recipe’s here to redeem us. That kind of thinking does a grave injustice to all parties, to cake, which is more hero than villain any day, to our waistlines which, thank you very much, are as lovely as can be and, most of all, to the salad I bring you today. To extoll it for its virtue, its wholesome, healthy, hippy-dippy, clean, green meanness is to miss the point entirely. I am crazy for this salad. Crazy. Eli will attest to this fact and to the way I carried on when I first made it, asking him again and again if he liked it, “But really, doooo you?” “Isn’t it great? “Can you even believe it?” “What do you think of this salad?” “SAY SOME WORDS ABOUT THIS SALAD!” I, apparently, am not above seeking out praise for my salad-constructing prowess when I am certain that praise is due.

For the record, Eli did derive a sizeable amount of pleasure from the tangle of greens and nuts and seeds before him. Mock me, he did, with his exaggerated moans and gratuitous sighs, but I know the truth. When he suggested, in jest, that we clink our bowls to celebrate this splendid display of saladry, I solemnly raised mine to his. Clink. He did not recoil.

Down to business, then. This salad of extreme greatness is a kale salad, something I never thought I’d be writing about here because, despite the very good press kale salads have gotten over the years (and just this week!), I've always steered clear. I like kale, and I eat a lot of it, and kale salads always sounded like a perfectly reasonable thing, but I got set in my kale eating ways, I guess, sautéing and boiling, boiling and sautéing. Then, a few weeks ago, some red Russian kale showed up in our farm share box. It was so tender and delicate that I couldn't imagine taking a pot or a pan to it, so I sliced it together with a few leaves of radicchio and a couple of radishes – also in that week’s box – added pistachios and pomegranate seeds and, in a moment of inspiration, shook together a pomegranate molasses dressing to top it all off. That is a serious list of ingredients, I realize, and if I hadn't already chewed effortlessly through this salad on multiple occasions my jaw might start to ache just thinking about it. But if you slice the kale and radicchio into slender enough ribbons and the radishes paper thin, there’s nothing to it. Scoop and stab at it in all the right places, and you’ll be rewarded with a perfect bite, sour, sweet, bitter, crunchy, that might just have you passing altogether on cake to save room for a second bowl.

Kale and Radicchio Salad with Radishes, Pistachios, and Pomegranate Seeds

Except for the debut version, I’ve used dinosaur kale (also known as Lacinato or Tuscan kale) in this salad. I suggest going with that – or with Red Russian Kale, if you can get your hands on it – and not curly kale, which is tougher and harder to chew.

8 or so leaves of dinosaur kale, stripped of their stems and thinly sliced or chopped
About half as much radicchio, thinly sliced width-wise
3-4 radishes of any kind; I use a mix of watermelon radishes, cheriettes, and daikons, thinly sliced
½ cup pomegranate seeds
A handful or two of shelled, salted pistachios

Toss everything together with the dressing (see below) and serve. I usually prefer a lightly dressed salad, but I like this one more heavily coated. Start with 4-5 tablespoons and add more, according to taste.

Serves 4.

Pomegranate Molasses Dressing

This is a sharp and sour dressing that also has a nice sweetness to it from the pomegranate molasses. Start with the following measurements and adjust to taste.

4-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

Whisk or shake together in a bowl or jar.


koshercamembert said...

So funny, Jess. I was just thinking that after a week+ of NaBloPoMo, it was high time I offered up something sweet after a few savory meals! As for a pound a day...I think that the newest version of the freshman fifteen is the blogger fifty. But that's a story for another time.

I too have been getting used to the whole raw kale thing. I can't wait to try your dressing - I could put pomegranate molasses on everything.

Žiupsnelisdruskos said...

Oh Jess, your writing is magic! I was wish every month was NaBloPoMo!

My go to kale salad are these => http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/raw-tuscan-kale-salad-recipe.html But I might give yours a go ;-)

Jess said...

Gayle - Ha! Well, between the two of us we've got people covered then. Pomegranate molasses is terrific, isn't it? I ate it all summer long on yogurt with toasted quinoa and dates. So good.

Žiupsnelisdruskos - You are so very kind! I'm having a blast writing here every day; glad you're enjoying it, too. Thanks for the link to Heidi's salad. Now that I'm on the raw kale bandwagon, I'll need to expand my repertoire.

Tracy said...

I think I need some salad with kale. To change things up. Might be nice. Worth a try.

shari said...

i had a mighty fine kale salad at tory row this weekend. part roasted kale and part raw kale + ground almonds + red onions and a great dressing.

love the addition of pomegranate molasses to yours. must try.

Jess said...

Tracy - Try it, yes! Though beware... You may not be able to stop.

shari - Tory Row? I can't believe you were right here. Sad to have missed you, and looking forward to a visit in the not-too-distant future. xo.

sara forte said...

that dressing sounds so perfect. I can't believe how much you're posting. You are my hero ;)

Jess said...

sara - I bet you would think of all kinds of wonderful things to do with that dressing, you brilliant thing, you. (NaBloPoMo! NaBloPoMo! Thanks for the cheers. I'm having a blast.)