It was a revelation, an epiphany, an awakening. I'd had brussels sprouts before, of course, roasted, steamed, stir-fried and hashed. But what was sitting on my lunch plate at Olympic Provisions was different in almost every way, a salad comprised of shaved, raw brussels sprouts.
Yes, raw. With a few roughly chopped castelvetrano olives and a hint of minced anchovies, tossed with a very simple dressing of olive oil, fresh lemon and salt.
Crunchy, bright and irresistible, I went back again and again. I couldn't stop talking about it. I made several stabs at copying it, finally achieving my goal. Then brussels sprouts went out of season and I had to find a substitute.
Then it hit me…raw kale! I'd made a run at a kale salad before, and while it was perfectly acceptable, it hadn't grabbed me the way the brussels sprout salad had. So with a bunch of my favorite kale, lacinato, in hand, I chopped a fine chiffonade of the dark springy leaves, mixed in the rest of the ingredients and took a bite.
Perfection! It's now become the hit of our summer table, since it's a great match with any grilled fish, chicken or meat, and is comfortable in any setting, whether fancy or casual. Who would have thought raw could be so refined?
Kale Salad with Anchovies, Olives and Lemon
1 bunch lacinato kale (also known as Tuscan, black or cavalo nero)
10 castelvetrano olives, pitted and roughly chopped
3-6 anchovies, minced
3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Chop a fine chiffonade of kale. It's not necessary to remove the stems completely, though I remove the thicker stems at the bottom and chop the remaining greens. Place kale in large salad bowl and add the olives, anchovies (start with the lesser number and add to taste), olive oil and lemon juice. Toss, adding salt to taste. I like to make this a half hour before serving so the kale has a chance to wilt slightly.
More salads in the Smackdown: Panzanella with Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil and Grilled Bread.