Tuscan, black, or dino kale has dark green, deeply curly leaves that are usually cooked—often for a fair amount of time—to soften their firm, fibrous texture. In this recipe, those sometimes tough leaves are simply sliced thin, tossed with a bright dressing, and served raw to great effect.
Is raw kale a bit tough for your taste, even when thinly sliced? Try giving it a hearty massage first. That's right, massage. Grab handfuls of the leaves and rub them - as vigorously as you like - to break down their fibers for a more tender texture. Really get in there and beat those leaves up. It's a great stress reliever, if you want to think of it that way, and terribly satisfying to squeeze and rub the leaves, watching as they start to soften and turn a darker shade of green as you go.
Scroll down for variations and additions to build on this simple salad.
- 1 head Tuscan, black, or Dino kale
- 1 small shallot or garlic clove
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
- Rinse kale leaves and pat them dry. Trim off stem ends and slice the leaves, crosswise, into ribbon-like pieces. Set aside.
- Finely mince the shallot or garlic clove and put it in a large salad bowl. Add vinegar and sugar and let sit 10 minutes. Whisk in oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add kale and toss gently until the leaves are evenly coated. Add Parmesan, if you like, and toss to combine.
Variations & Additions
This is clearly a very simple creation, just dressed kale leaves. If you want a bit more going on, try these suggestions:
- Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes to the dressing for a spicy kick
- Crumble in 1/2 cup blue cheese (kale goes great with blue cheese!)
- Cut half a red onion into slivers and add it to the dressing, letting the onion sit for about 15 minutes before tossing in the kale to let it mellow and soften
- Mash 1 anchovy filet into the dressing for a deep, umami edge
- Toss in cubes of roasted butternut squash or persimmon for some bright orange contrast
- Sprinkle on dried cranberries or blueberries for a sweet-tart edge
- Mince 2 dates into the dressing in place of the sugar for an earthy sweet version
- Toast up some hand-torn croutons to add some hearty crunch
- Add a handful or two of toasted nuts—walnuts, almonds, and pecans are particularly good choices
- Finely chop some preserved lemon and add it to the dressing, using lemon juice in place of red wine vinegar, if you like, for a lemony take
- Thinly sliced apple or pear adds sweet crunch