11.17.2017

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I hit the library cookbook shelf pretty hard this week. After flipping through a dozen cookbooks, old and new, I brought two home – Christopher Kimball’s new book Milk Street: The New Home Cooking and Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan. I picked Milk Street because, without cable TV at home, Nick and I end up watching public television’s cooking shows often and both feel like we know Christopher Kimball personally. Taste of Persia is our cookbook club’s new book and I was psyched to see an entire chapter dedicated to flatbreads.

I made two recipes from Milk Street this week – this kale salad and a lentil salad. I have the ingredients for a cauliflower-tahini dish from the book in our fridge that I hope to try today. This kale salad is really good – here is what Christopher Kimball has to say about it:

Kale can make a flavorful and seasonal winter salad, but to be eaten raw it needs to be treated right. Otherwise, the greens can be unpleasantly tough. We started with lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale. Its long blue-green leaves are sweeter and more tender than curly kale. Slicing the greens thinly was the first step to making them more salad-friendly. Then, to soften them further, we borrowed a Japanese technique used on raw cabbage – massaging the leaves. In this case, we do it with ground smoked almonds, which help tenderize the kale and add crunch and flavor to the finished salad. An acidic shallot-sherry vinaigrette also helped soften and brighten the kale (look for a sherry vinegar aged at least 3 years). Intensely flavorful paprika breadcrumbs, inspired by the Catalan sauce cicada, tied everything together. 

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Kale Salad with Smoked Almonds and Picada Crumbs

Start to finish: 15 minutes / Servings: 6. From Milk Street: The New Home Cooking

2 shallots, thinly sliced

5 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons honey

8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Ground black pepper

1 cup smoked almonds *I used regular roasted and salted almonds, not smoked

4 ounces chewy white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed, washed, spun dry and thinly sliced crosswise (10 cups)

1 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, chopped *I left out the mint

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1. In a small bowl, whisk together the shallots, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk in the honey, 5 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

2. In a food processor, process the almonds until coarsely chopped, about 8 pulses; transfer to a large bowl. Add the bread to the processor and process to rough crumbs, about 20 seconds. Add the thyme, the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, the paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Process until incorporated, about 10 seconds.

3. Transfer the crumb mixture to a large skillet over medium and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

4. Add the kale and mint to the bowl with the almonds and massage the greens until the kale softens and darkens, 10 to 20 seconds. Add the dressing and crumbs and toss to combine. Taste, then season with salt and pepper.

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