Strictly speaking, a recipe for ‘Tuscan Kale and Bread Salad’ should be made with Tuscan kale. But I bent the rule with this one by using Curly kale instead as it is the only type of kale I have come across in Dubai. However, in keeping with the Tuscan theme, I have used other traditional Tuscan ingredients in this salad such as dried bread, cannelini beans, tomatoes and cheese.
Tuscan kale (also called lacinato kale or dinosaur kale) is a variety of kale which has long flat dark green textured leaves and is slightly less tough and bitter than the more common Curly kale.
As with all kale salads, make sure that you remove the stalks and massage the leaves with your hands for 2-3 minute to soften them and release their flavour (technique described in step 2 of the recipe directions below).
TUSCAN KALE and BREAD SALAD
(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated on the fine side of a grater
1 tsp coarse sea salt
100g / 3.5 oz kale leaves (weight of leaves without the stalks)
1 tin cannellini/fagioli beans (235g / 8 oz drained weight)
10 cherry tomatoes (about 120g / 4 oz)
Wedge of parmesan or pecorino cheese (according to taste)
2-3 slices of good bread (avoid ciabatta and focaccia as they are too rich for this purpose)
- Prepare your salad dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients well in a jar. The amount of garlic you use should depend on how strong your garlic cloves are and how much you like to eat raw garlic. Cover and set the jar aside.
- Remove the long stalks which run along the length of your kale leaves. Wash and dry the leaves well, and then thinly shred them. To make the kale leaves softer and more tasty, I recommend ‘massaging’ them. Do this by putting the shredded kale leaves in a large bowl and squeezing the leaves on your hands for 3-4 minutes. This will soften their tough texture and release more flavour from the leaf. Massaged kale keeps well in the fridge for several days, so it’s often worth preparing a larger amount of leaves than you need so that you can keep dipping into it throughout the week.
- Drain and rinse 1 tin of cannellini beans (or use freshly cooked beans). Place the beans in a large bowl.
- Add the kale to the large bowl and toss with the beans.
- Add the salad dressing and toss well to evenly coat the kale and beans.
- Slice your cherry tomatoes in half and throw them on top of the salad.
- Shave some fresh parmesan cheese on top of the salad (the amount should depend on your own taste). You may want to shave a little extra parmesan to garnish the top of the salad before serving.
- Toss everything loosely. The salad can be kept in the refrigerator like this for upto 3 days before serving.
- Prepare your bread by toasting some slices in a toaster until they are crisp but not burnt. After they have been toasted, allow them to sit in the toaster for 5 minutes to cool and dry out a bit. Once dry, tear them into bite-size pieces by hand. Keep the bread separate from the salad until you are ready to serve otherwise the bread will get soggy.
- To serve, re-toss the salad if it has been refrigerated for a while. Spread it on a platter and garnish with some extra parmesan shavings and the toasted bread.