As tomatoes become grainy and corn becomes starchy, and many other summer vegetables flame out or fade away, kale—at least in Connecticut—is a vegetable that makes the transition with us from spring, to summer, to fall. A lot of the kale we are getting here now is hardier than usual, maybe with a touch of frost burn around the edges. But it’s no less delicious and no less welcome for those blemishes, at a time of year when our fairer summer friends take their leave from the kitchen.
Nothing can be simpler than making a raw kale salad for supper. You can make it a million different ways. In fact, I had every intention that this particular salad would in fact be one of those different ways: a raw kale, lemon and avocado salad. But the avocado I’d been ripening all week had other plans. (Don’t you hate it when you slice into an avocado, one that you’ve been babying along to ripeness, only to discover it is slimy and brown inside?) Luckily I had a nice ball of fresh mozzarella in the refrigerator, ready to take its place beside finely sliced kale, red onions, and lemon juice. The key with any raw kale salad is to rub it down properly with an acid, like lemon juice, and then olive oil—at least 15 or 30 minutes before you plan to eat. (Be warned: if you have an office job where you tend to get paper cuts, you better be a masochist to undertake this particular procedure.) The acid and oil kind of “cook” the kale a bit—it will still be verdant and crunchy, but a little easier to eat. I like to mellow it out with something a bit fatty (in this case mozzarella and not avocado) and make sure just before supper that the whole thing is properly salted after all. (Sometimes I find I need to add a bit more salt at the end.) Enjoy improvising on this theme over the next few weeks, a not insignificant consolation in the face of fall.
Kale + mozzarella salad
- 2 bunches (about 20 large leaves) of lacinato kale, washed and cut into a fine chiffonade
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 4 oz fresh mozzarella
- freshly cracked black pepper
1. Combine the finely sliced kale, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, massage the lemon juice into the kale leaves for about 3 to 4 minutes. Assiduously work it into the leaves. Add olive oil and honey and continue to massage for 1 to 2 more minutes. Set aside while you prepare other dishes, at least 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Just before serving, add onion and mozzarella. Grind black pepper over, to taste. Serve.