In my family, all food falls into one of two categories, food that unites or food that divides. Topping the uniting list includes kale, broccoli, beef, fish, and spaghetti. On the dividing side, there is egg, cheese, chicken, curry, tomato and peanut butter. He eats this but not that. She eats that but not this. Our overlaps are few, so I like to take advantage of them whenever I can. Thankfully, with kale on all of our palates, we have a robust lacinato plant in one of our raised beds and it is a staple in our weekly CSA box. We all love cooked kale, whether in stews or roasted into chips or smoky and blistered from the grill. However, with the heat and humidity of summer in full swing, I have been experimenting with raw preparations. I tried a raw kale salad with an almond dressing that despite having an intriguing ingredient list (almonds, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, Dijon) tasted flat to my palate. Having recently discovered Amanda’s Chicken Salad (http://food52.com/recipes...), I thought smoked almonds in a dressing might be the punch of flavor I was looking for. I decided to use lime because I had them on hand, and anyway, why should lemon get all the dressing attention?
Since this salad needs to be refrigerated for at least 4 hours prior to serving, make sure to use lacinato (also known as Toscano or dinosaur kale) for its earthy flavor and ability to hold up to the dressing. Thinly slicing lacinato is easily accomplished by stacking de-ribbed leaves and using a sharp knife. If using baby lacinato kale, de-ribbing is not necessary. Simply wash, dry and slice.
4-6 as a side
cups thinly sliced ribbons lacinato kale (washed and thoroughly dried, thick ribs removed)
In a blender, combine smoked almonds and water. Puree until almonds are pulverized and you have a thin paste, stopping to scrape down sides with a spatula as needed.
Add mayonnaise and puree until combined. Scrape down sides of blender and add lime juice and then vinegar in two additions, pureeing and scraping between each. Add Aleppo pepper and puree one last time. Taste for salt (since the smoked almonds add a good amount of salt, I’ve never had to add additional salt) and add if desired.
Pour dressing over mixture, scraping out the blender to get every drop. Using your spatula, carefully fold the dressing into the kale. Stir slaw a few times, cloaking the greens in dressing. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate, at least four hours and up to overnight. Be sure to take the chill off slaw before serving. When ready to serve, toast almonds until fragrant in a dry pan over medium heat. Make sure to stir mixture continuously to prevent burning. Transfer to a plate and let almonds cool. Rough slice almonds and scatter over salad. Serve and enjoy.
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.