This is the raw kale salad that changed my life. I was the chef de cuisine at Franny’s in Brooklyn back in 2007. I was mad that I couldn’t find good salad greens in the middle of winter, and I especially hated (still hate) the “mesclun mix” that lines the shelves of supermarkets—no flavor, no texture. I created this kale salad in rebellion against those miserable greens, having no idea it would take the world by storm. But once it got written up in The New York Times, the world seemed to have an unending hunger for kale salads!
- The better the bread, the better the crumbs; I like whole grain. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch-thick slices, leaving the crust on. Cut the slices into cubes and then spread them in an even layer on a baking sheet (or more than one pan, if making a lot; a 12-ounce loaf should fit onto one pan).
- Heat the oven to its lowest setting, usually about 250°F. Bake the cubes until they are fully dry, but not browned. This could take an hour or more, depending on the bread’s moisture and density.
- Cool fully and then process into crumbs by pulsing in a food processor. The goal is small crumbs more or less the same size, though some bigger ones are fine—think Grape-Nuts. You want to avoid too much fine powder, however, so stop once or twice and pour off the finer crumbs or shake through a colander and then continue to crush the remaining big pieces.
- Store the crumbs in an airtight container. If fully dry, they’ll stay fresh for a few weeks.
- Stack several kale leaves on top of one another and roll them up into a tight cylinder. With a sharp knife, slice crosswise into very thin, about 1⁄16 inch, ribbons (this is called a chiffonade). Put the kale in a salad spinner, rinse in cool water, and spin until completely dry. Pile the kale into a bowl.
- Put the chopped garlic on a cutting board and mince it even more until you have a paste (you can sort of smash and scrape the garlic with the side of the knife as well). Transfer the garlic to a small bowl, add 1/4 cup Pecorino, a healthy glug of olive oil, the lemon juice, chile flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and plenty of twists of black pepper, and whisk to combine.
- Pour the dressing over the kale and toss well to thoroughly combine (you can use your clean hands for this, to be efficient). Taste and adjust with more lemon, salt, chile flakes, or black pepper. Let the salad sit for about 5 minutes so the kale softens slightly. Top with the bread crumbs, shower with more cheese, and drizzle with more oil.
Excerpted from Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Laura Dart and A.J. Meeker