Monday, 30 July 2012

Grilled Kale, Plum & Ricotta Salad

Coming up with a name for a blog is no small decision.  Forever linked to whatever I may choose to post and share, the title of your blog cannot be changed or removed.  I’ve had a few people ask me “why Kale Eats?”  I wish the answer was an exciting one, but I’m afraid it’s pretty tame.  I originally had a few other ideas that included the word kale, but the domains were already taken.  When setting up on the host site it gave suggestions as possible alternatives and Kale Eats came up.

For me, the vegetable kale represents so much about my food philosophy.  Dark green and leafy, locally grown, full of nutrients and yet so tasty, it’s everything I want my food to be.  It’s the one vegetable that over the years I think I’ve converted multiple naysayers to not only give it a try, but become connoisseurs themselves.  I can’t even count the number of potlucks or family gatherings where I’ve brought a tasty kale dish and multiple recipe requests ensued.

Just when I think I’ve tried every application of kale (roasted, sautéed, boiled, steamed, raw) along comes a recipe for barbequed kale.  Are you kidding me?  Why didn’t I think of this?  The barbequing is quick, and if left unattended you will quickly have burnt, charred ashes of kale.  But the three to five minutes spent on the grill, impart a true smokey flavour that is essential to the success.  We enjoyed this as an appetizer one hot summer night.  Freshly made ricotta elevates the salad from good to great.  I can’t say how it would be with a store bought ricotta but would love to know if someone tries it.  My favourite recipe for making ricotta can be found here.  There is not a lot of effort involved, the biggest issue is the waiting, but the end result is unlike anything you’ve tasted before.  Just try and keep yourself from eating this right out of the bowl.

 I’ve made this salad a few times with three varieties of kale: curly, lacinato and Russian.  My suggestion is to use the Russian or lacinato if you can get it.  The curly tends to burn at the edges quicker, making your job to keep moving that kale on the grill a bit trickier.  The curly variety is also a bit tougher to chew, unlike the silkiness of the other two.  The plums I used were a small yellow variety grown here in Ontario.  I’m sure the larger black or red varieties would also work. 

Grilled Kale Plum & Ricotta Salad

adapted from Bon Appetit
4Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
Sea salt, fresh ground pepper
5 yellow plums, cut in eighths
15 large kale leaves
1 cup fresh ricotta (recipe here)

Whisk together 3Tbsp oil, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Toss plums with vinaigrette and then remove.  Reserve vinaigrette.  Brush kale leave with 1Tbsp oil and season with salt.  Grill kale on medium heat grill until crispy and charred, about 2min per side.  Stay close to the grill as they will quickly go to ash if left unattended.  Remove from heat and rest until cool.  Remove centre stems from kale and slice leaves into bite sized pieces.  Toss with vinaigrette.  Place ¼ cup ricotta on each plate and sprinkle with salt/pepper.  Top each plate with some kale and plums.  If any vinaigrette remains in bowl, drizzle over each plate.  Enjoy!

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