Friday, November 6, 2009

Kale and Avocado Salad

I fell in love with kale in Austin, Texas. Okay, I'd liked kale before. How can you not like kale when everybody grows it in the Pacific Northwest? It's so hearty here. I love the way I can cast out seeds and it comes up easy as a weed and then sustains me all winter. I've made some good kale recipes over the years and my favorite was a kale dip in my book Local Vegetarian Cooking, but not even my favorite recipe could compare to the raw kale and avocado salad I discovered at Whole Foods in Austin.

The kale-avocado salad made me homesick for Pacific Northwest. The salad was just tender curly kale, lemon juice, olive oil and avocados were the main ingredients. So simple, yet was so mouthwatering good. I'm into minimalist recipes these days. I couldn't get enough of that salad, I went back time after time. If a salad can be a comfort food, this is it.

When I returned to Seattle, I stopped in Whole Foods in the University District and was surprised they didn't sell Kale-Avocado Salad at the Roosevelt Square store. "It's crazy," I'd remarked."Kale is the most ubiquitous crop at the farmers' market here in the winter."

I hold out some hope the store will see the value of a signature Northwest salad, but in the meantime, I created this easy recipe. Remember to remove the tough inner stem. I tried local yuzu for my first version, but Meyer lemon tastes better, so I chose an organic Meyer lemon. The avocado is a black Haas avocado and I added chopped, fresh, ripe Bosc pears. I was in heaven with every bite.

Serve this stellar salad on Thanksgiving and turn everyone into kale-lovers!

Kale-Avocado Salad
(Serves 4)
1 Meyer lemon
2 to 3 teaspoons honey
1 clove fresh garlic, pressed
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of Sea salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large avocado, peeled and diced
1 Bosc pear, stem and seeds removed and diced
1 bunch Tuscan kale, rinsed, tough stem removed, and sliced into ribbons

1. Zest and juice Meyer lemon. Strain seeds and in a medium mixing bowl, blend juice with honey, garlic, cayenne sea salt. Whisk in olive oil. Add avocado and pear. Stir gently.

2. Place the kale in a large serving bowl. Gently blend in dressing with avocado and pear. This salad is better, if allowed to marinate for an hour or more.

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