Kale is in season right now with the common curly kind leading the pack. But there's also a darker, more unique variety that hails from Italy. Tuscan kale is darker in color, more delicate in flavor, and tender to eat. It's especially great in salads and it holds up to many bold flavors. If you're craving a salad this winter, Tuscan kale should be your green of choice.
Most people only think of kale as a cooked vegetable, but kale is great raw. Not only do you benefit from all its vitamins when it's raw, you also get a great texture and fresh taste. It's great as a slaw, or as an appetizer or main course salad. For this hearty recipe, I combine kale with sautéed mushrooms, croutons, and a richly flavored brown butter vinaigrette. I top it off with Parmesan and a poached egg. Serve it for lunch or a light dinner with a glass of wine.
Tuscan kale, also called Lacinato kale or cavolo nero in Italian, is a vegetable that's been grown in Italy since the 1800s. There it's used in salads, pasta dishes and soups like minestrone. It has a sweeter, more delicate taste than curly kale. The leaves are long and slender and almost blistery looking. But you don't have to all the way to Italy to get it. Find Tuscan kale at the farmers' market now.
Tuscan Kale and Sautéed Oyster Mushroom Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette and Poached Egg
for the salad:
1 pound Tuscan kale
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 loaf ciabatta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
fine sea salt
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces oyster mushrooms
for the dressing:
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Wash kale in hot water to tenderize it. Shock with cold water. Spin in a salad spinner and dry thoroughly. Remove thick stems and tear into pieces or slice into ribbons.
On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt. Toast until lightly golden, tossing once, about 10 minutes.
Warm a sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Once melted, add mushrooms and sauté until liquid releases and mushrooms are lightly brown, about 8 minutes. Season with salt. Keep warm.
To make the dressing, start by melting butter in a small saucepan on low heat. Turn off the heat once it starts to turn brown. Whisk in vinegar and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Bring a shallow saucepan with 3 inches of water and white vinegar to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Once large bubbles have subsided and only small bubbles remain, carefully slide each egg into pan with ramekin placed close to the surface of the water. Poach 2 eggs at a time for 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs to ice water.
Whisk the vinaigrette to reincorporate. In a large bowl, toss together kale, sautéed mushrooms, and croutons with vinaigrette. Season salad with salt and pepper. Divide salad among plates. Top with Parmesan shavings and a poached egg on each. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.